19 July 2006

Wild Foraging: A Healthy Exercise

Every now and then I like to go on a wild food foraging adventure.
Perhaps, spend a few hours during a morning or afternoon,
roaming about the woods and fields looking for tasty treats,
or plants that can be used as foods in an emergency situation.
It's a fun adventure and always a learning experience.

My last adventure took me into a mixed forest environment,
consisting mostly of maple, birch, spruce, pine, and the
occasional hemlock tree. This is a nice mixture and usually
occurs in soils that allow for a good variety of small plant cover
on the forest floor.

Among the first group of plants I look for, in terms of wild edibles,
are the wood sorrels (Oxalis L.). The leaves of those plants are
somewhat sour tasting, with a sweet accent. They make an
excellent addition to a salad, and are also useful for an herb
tea. Wood sorrels aren't related to the sorrels and docks of the
genus Rumex L., although they do have a similar flavour. Both
sorrels are best enjoyed raw.

Aside from the wood sorrel, I was also able to find and taste
blue violets, Indian cucumber, and sweet fern, among other

Both the leaves and flowers of blue violet are high in vitamins A
and C. For instance, a half-cup serving of the leaves contain as
much vitamin C as approximately three average size oranges.
The flowers have been used in making jams and syrups. As
well, blue violet was considered a powerful medicine plant in
traditional British and European herbalism.

The Indian cucumber root is a wonderful treat! It should not be
collected, as it is endangered in many areas. However, if you
find a location where there are a number of plants growing, it
is okay to dig out the root from a single plant. It is a crisp
tasting, white root. The taste reminds one of potato, but also
has added flavour that resembles a cucumber. I enjoy it a
great deal.

The leaves of sweet fern may be dried or used in a green state
to make a pleasant tasting tea. I don't think it's a tea that
should be used on a daily basis, especially if you are taking
prescription medications. Before drinking it regularly, I would want
to research the chemical nature of the plant more fully. However,
it's certainly a unique and pleasant tea to serve on occasion.

As I say, spending a few hours in the forest, finding wild edibles,
is an adventure and learning experience. It's relaxing and
therapeutic to our body, mind, and spirit. It's also a great way
to grow a friendship or relationship with another person. This is
something I hadn't considered until quite recently, probably
because I'm only now learning to live more fully from the heart.
I wish I had started earlier for a number of reasons. But that's
another story.

So, go for it. I challenge each of you to try at least one wild
edible between now and the next newsletter. But, remember,
try only a sample. Never, never, contribute to the over-collecting
or over-harvesting of wild plants. Finally, if you like, send me a
short note explaining what you've sampled. If I receive some
responses, I'll comment on them in the next newsletter.

Good medicine always!

Note: This is an article that appeared in the latest issue of the
Natural Healing Talk newsletter. You can subscribe to this
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