why you should be eating weeds

Just yesterday, my mum dropped off a plate of greens to my house. I should get specific - these were weeds she had collected from my brother's overgrown backyard. And I ate them, slowly, with generous gushes of olive oil, and lemon, and salt, and I felt happy and satiated. In my horta-induced bliss, I forgot to take a photo of them.

someone else's horta, via skopelosnews

Eating weeds ain't a new thing, not to European folk anyhow. I grew up on the stuff, my mother grew up on the stuff, my mum's mother grew up on the stuff... you know, it's just the done thing in some parts of the world. But here in Australia, eating the very same weeds that you've spent hours on a Saturday afternoon meticulously removing from your lawn, well, that's kinda a novel and Really Rather Strange idea (actually, people all over used to eat things like nettle and dandelion flowers even in the 70s).

It's regaining popularity now though, this concept of eating wild greens. If you go to the latest and trendiest Greek dining haunts in Australia, you'll see horta on the menu. People are talking about eating weeds. Really, they are. Nasturtiums, dandelion flowers, nettle... they're featuring in green smoothies all over the place.

Why the heck would you want to eat a weed, hm? You eat weeds not just for the fact that they taste delicious, or the fact that they are free, or that they grow everywhere and anywhere in abundance, no, you eat them because they are indefinitely more nutritious than cultivated greens. We've bred the nutrition out of our greens because we've crossed them for growing ability, and pesticide resistance, and superficial good looks (no bumps or crooked bits) - not for vitamin content.

But wild greens, they're untouched by greedy corporate hands. They're clean, and naturally resilient, and ferociously nutrient-dense.

Dandelions, for instance, are higher in vitamins A, C, fibre, potassium, iron, antioxidants and other minerals than most other green veg we put in our gobs. They have, in fact, been ranked in the top 4 most nutritious green vegetables by the US Agriculture Department. Weeds are considered healing plants by many of the more ancient cultures.

Ergo I was positively chuffed to discover an entire website devoted to the love of edible weeds, Wild Plant Forager. This article on how healthy foraging for weeds really is, is particularly great.

Some other neat weed-loving websites:
Survival, tracking and awareness - includes a pictorial guide to edible weeds commonly found in Australia
Hello Little Weed - a few interesting facts and other important info like this note of caution.
Costa's Garden Odyssey - a list of Costa's favourite edible weeds and a recipe for horta (greek weed salad).

My faves?
Flatweed Hypochaeris (catsears)

via survival.org.au

Dandelion

via healthyhomegardening.com

Amaranth (vlita)

via panathinaeos

And my favourite way to eat them? Slowly, with generous gushes of olive oil, and lemon, and salt. So happy you forget to take a photo.

I'd love to know if you're into foraging for wild foods? And if you are, where do you go to do it?


2 comments:

  1. I'm a huge fan of foraging. i regularly forage purslane and warrigal greens - but wanted to discover more foods to forage - so am foraging something new each fortnigt. Today I wrote about foraging for Chickweed.

    I'm off to explore recipes for Horta. Thank you :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, just came across your blog and I like what I see:).
    I live in Ashburton , Melbourne, near Gardiners Creek ( a continuing trail of the yarra river). I often foragage for wild weeds and fruits in my neighbourhood:). This morning I picked some onion weed to go in an omelette. A number of years ago I did a Wild Weed Walk in Brunswick (www.veryediblegardens.com) and it really opened my eyes to the nutritious powerhouse of food available freely to us...if I had only known earlier!
    I tend to keep my foraging to myself as I seem to get strange reactions from others and I think they think me a bit odd. I just think I'm ahead of my time!
    Viva la edible weeds

    ReplyDelete

 

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