Wild Edible Plants . . .

This site is a database for wild edible plants of North America. I encourage any users to leave comments reflecting their experiences with a certain plant. Much of our knowledge of edible plants is either lost, superstitious or incorrect. There's a lot of hype about how dangerous wild plants can be, when in reality most are not only safe they're critical for your health.

My perspective is somewhat unique in that my family and I have camped as a lifestyle for over a decade - essentially lived with edible plants and used them on a daily basis. We have also been raw fooders for a very long period. Becoming 100% raw vegan sparked my interest in edible plants like nothing else. Every day I was out hiking the trails barefoot, eating grass, eating flowers, trying parts of the many plants I came across with a clean palate . . .

Using wild edible plants is the best way we can defy the system, maintain our health, and get our independence back.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dandelions and Roadside Pollution

. Today is my second day eating 100% raw and I gathered dandelion flowers for my green smoothie. I picked about 40 to 50 of them. You just pluck the flower and pinch off the green base, so that there is no white sap left on the flower (the sap is very bitter). It's important to do this before they go in the bag, or sap leaking out of the green stems will get on the flowers and make them bitter. Process them on the spot, then place them in your gathering bag or basket.

For the smoothie I used 2 bananas, 1 mango, 1 cup of water, and the flowers. It was excellent. Sweet and rich (dandelion flowers are sweet), with a great texture. I felt so balanced after this meal I didn't eat anything else the rest of the evening - even though there was a tempting durian in the fridge.

Though 'going raw' is psychologically brutal in the beginning (especially the first 2 weeks - like breaking free of any other addiction), I feel like I'm doing okay and stable. Making sure I focus on greens and minerals more than anything else (rather than sugars and fats) has balanced me very well.

There are inevitably moments of course where you pity yourself, and dwell on things you can't have anymore. But you can't have it all in life. No you can't have those big comforting meals anymore that you lived your whole life around, going from meal to meal. But for giving it up you get perfect health, a perfect body, and happiness. I think it's a good trade.

Most of the weeds nearby are roadside weeds, so I thought I should fully research the effects of auto emissions on roadside plants, before I make them a staple in my diet. The facts are not good. Not only are there gaseous emissions in exhaust, there is also particulate matter that comes out the tailpipe, as well as off the tires. The particulate matter is things like heavy metals, as well as other pollutants.

But edible weeds often thrive by the side of the road. Look at this patch of henbit, with its understory of chickweed:

There are varying levels of pollutant exposure for roadside plants. One factor is whether the plant is perrenial or annual. Perrenials get it the worst, because they're there year after year, soaking it up. Another factor is whether the soil is downhill or uphill from the road. If it's downhill contaminants from the road wash into it over and over, and are absorbed in the roots. Typically it is flowers and fruits that are the least affected, especially flowers considering how short-lived they are. And in general the poisons in the roots don't migrate up into the flowers and fruits. The leaves are so-so. They often get quite a bit of particulate matter dumped on them. Washing them in water tends to only remove 1/3 of the pollution.

The biggest factors are how much use the road gets - something with only a car an hour, upslope from the road . . . these plants are probably fine. A closed road would be best. But a road with heavy traffic - the plants are probably affected badly. But the particulate matter tends to only cover the immediate roadside. The level of pollution drops rapidly as you move away from the road.

The dandelion flowers I gathered were uphill from a busy road. The flowers are extremely short-lived, so not exposed to pollution for very long. Hopefully I can find some nearby (walking distance) sources for wild food that are far from roads.

1 comment:

  1. Could cite your sources for the contamination ? Considering phytodegradation, and phytostabilization, and phytoaccumulation, I'm curious what pollutants are present as a result of road use. I've just begun to research it, and any sources you have looked at already would be of interest to me. Thanks! Julie