DandelionFor most folks, dinner comes neatly packaged from the grocery store. But before it reaches the shelves, all of our food comes from the land in one way or another. And did you know that some foods that aren’t farmed at all, but are found only in nature? Late spring is a great time to connect with natural world by trying some of these wild edibles!

The flowers of these sunny lawn weeds can be made into a tasty drink called dandelion wine and the greens make an excellent salad green. In fact, all parts of this plant are edible and are chock full of nutrients. Buy them in the grocery store – or simply harvest them from your own herbicide-free yard.

The scrumptious, earthy flavor of wild morel mushrooms is legendary.  They only grow in the wild and morel hunters across the country are in the woods in full force looking for these delectable fungi.

Garlic Mustard
This invasive exotic weed crowds out native woodland plants and the wildlife that depend on them.  Why let the weeds win when you can pull them and turn them into a tasty garlic mustard pesto? You’ll be doing a favor for the forest — your taste buds too!

New, unopened fern fronds are known as fiddleheads, and those of some fern species are not only edible, they’re downright delicious!

Insects and Spiders
That’s not a typo. All sorts of arthropods from crickets to cicadas to spiders are edible and surprisingly nutritious.

Wild Edibles Tips

1. NEVER eat anything that you cannot identify with 100 percent confidence.
2. Don’t harvest from areas sprayed with pesticides.
3. Search local farmers markets and natural grocery stores first before collecting from the wild.
4. Search online for local foragers groups or wild food experts who can help you identify potential foods and coordinate foraging trips.
5. If you do collect from the wild, don’t be greedy.  Leave plenty to provide for wildlife and to ensure the next generation.

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Published: June 4, 2008