Not enough money for a stomach implant yet? No problem. The Edible Weed Eaters Society (EWES), a grassroots organisation which promotes eating edible weeds, estimates that we are currently wasting—yes, wasting—91% of the edible vegetation in our yards and gardens. If we realised the benefits of these perfectly digestible delights of nature, we could supply much more of our dietary needs before even getting the new digestive surgery mentioned in Vim’s article.
Pedro Gardner, master gardener and spokesman of EWES, suggests that before you mow the lawn next time, you gather a few of every kind of weed you can find. “Feel them for texture, break a few leaves or stems, sniff them, and chew a mouthful,” he advises. “If it tastes good and goes down the tube, serve it in a salad. If it tastes like poison, just spit it out. But if it tastes really poisonous, it’s probably medicinal. Of course, if you fall down dead, it probably is poisonous, and you should stop eating immediately.”
Mushrooms can be a bit trickier for Americans, as most are taught to avoid wild mushrooms as potentially poisonous. In Europe, though, mushrooming is a well-loved family pastime. So if you are unsure of how to identify mushrooms in your yard, find a European friend and invite him over. Watch him closely as he selects the mushrooms from your lawn. Pay attention to the size, shape, and colour of the ones he chooses, and see whether he keels over within a few minutes of eating one. According to the USDA, if he’s still alive, it’s probably safe.
Once you have surveyed your yard and begun harvesting your edible weeds, add harvesting to your daily chores, or at least do it weekly before mowing the lawn. Thus you will have your own maintenance-free vegetable garden. EWES also likes to advertise that the lawn will be almost as well-kept as if you had your own goats to graze on it.
Weeds bring huge dietary benefits. One nutritionist, Tina Sinamilk, posits that we would be twelve to thirteen percent healthier on average if we ate all the weeds in our yard. First Lady Michelle Obama, known for her deep, abiding concern for the physical health of America, is quoted as saying, “Edible weeds have been around for eons, growing right under our noses, just totally forgotten. This is the best thing since sliced bread.” “And sliced cheese!” added her husband, the president.
Some edible weeds which may be growing in your backyard:
- Purslane: some people even pay money for this weed.
- Violets: feed them to your significant other for a candlelight dinner.
- Woodsorrel: tastes a bit like wood, a bit like sorrel.
- Chickweed: tastes like baby chickens.
- Aloe (in certain climates): drink the juice if you are prone to internal sunburn.
For a more extensive list and even some recipes, go to www.ediblewildfood.com. They do note that “Some wild plants are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects.” The Flying News suggests not eating the poisonous ones, unless you are the sort of person we don’t like.