Eat Your Weeds

Is your backyard overrun with weeds?

Well, organic gardener/forager types have a few suggestions about how to get rid of those pesky weeds in your yard: Bite back.

Several organic gardening websites suggest edible weeds are a brilliant way to get five daily servings of fruits and veggies. The websites are loaded with advice on how to forage and eat the unwanted plants that may be thriving in your yard. Eating weeds, they argue, is free, healthy and better than trying to kill them off with pesticides.

The idea comes a shock to someone who, until now, thought foraging meant eating off of friends’ plates if their food happens to look tastier than mine.

But these websites would provide any brave, wannabe weed-eaters with some basic information on the topic. For instance:

At You Grow Girl, there’s an Edible Weeds Guide, complete with recipes and gardening suggestions. (Though, if you grow certain weed on purpose, are they still called weeds?) According to the guide, amaranth, purslane, chickweed and dandelion are all common garden nuisances that have the potential to become salads.

Veggie Gardening Tips offers a handy primer on the Do’s and Don’ts of foraging for your supper. Some simple Don’ts: Don't eat any plants that you can't ID, that are growing by the side of a road, that have been sprayed by pesticides, or that have grown in polluted areas.

New York naturalist Steve Brill — who has a long and colorful history scavenging food in Central Park — offers plentiful suggestions on his site about foraging for wild plants, greens, herbs, mushrooms and more. He argues that wild plants and weeds are packed with nutrients and will help people live a longer, healthier life.

Personally, I’m happy if I actually manage to eat five servings fruits and veggies from produce bought at the grocery store, or I’m particularly organized that week, from the farmers’ market. Somehow, I can’t imagine myself ever scavenging around the backyward for dinner, when the option exists to call in for some spring rolls.

But from now on, I plan to pay closer attention to any unfamiliar greens I see in a home-grown salad made by my super-healthy friends.

I'll leave foraging to the brave... and if something happens to look like a weed, they're welcome to forage it right off my plate.

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