There’s free, edible food all around. Believe it or not, edible plants are abundant around the world. In North America, many of these plants go unnoticed because we’re so used to going to the supermarket for everything we put on our plates. Foraging edible plants is not only fun, it’s also inexpensive. Who doesn’t want to save on their grocery bill?
There are hundreds of edible plants species widely found in North America. Check out some that are commonly found across North America, often in cities and suburbs.
Mulberries – Ever walked over the sidewalk and wondered why it was covered in berries and stained purple from people stepping all over them? They’re actually edible, although you probably want to get to them before the joggers have run over them. These are mulberries, the fruit of the mulberry tree that’s the sole diet of silkworms. Don’t worry, though, silk worms eat the leaves of this tree, not the delicious summer snack that are the berries. Mulberries in North America are often bought imported. Unfortunately, that means that they have to be dehydrated because of their short lifespan. Instead, why not look around the neighborhood and pack them up in a basket or beeswax cloth to take home?
Dandelions – Dandelions grow just about everywhere and every part is edible, including the flowers, leaves, and roots. They’re one of the most common edible plants in North America, as anyone who’s ever mowed a lawn can tell you. They sprout up everywhere. Dandelion greens bring a mild bitterness to a salad that pairs well with simple salad dressings made from wild garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and just a bit of sugar to cut through the bitterness. You can easily wrap up greens like dandelions in Abeego beeswax food wraps. These are beeswax food wraps that will stick to themselves and keep greens fresh and breathing.
Wood Sorrel – This wild plant can be identified by its white, yellow, orange, or red flowers and leaves that resemble a shamrock. Wood sorrel can also be found in most of North America and South America. The edible parts include the leaves, flowers, and seed pods. They can be used in salads or to make a tea. Thanks to wood sorrel’s high water content, it’s a thirst-quenching plant and ranks highly for survivalists.
Garlic Mustard – Another edible plant commonly considered to be a weed in North America, garlic mustard is considered an invasive species on most of the continent. Garlic mustard can often be found along fences, roadsides, along railways, and in wooded regions. Garlic mustard thrives where the soil has been disturbed. The flowers, leaves, seeds, and roots are all edible. It has a spicy flavor similar to horseradish that will enliven any salad.
Elderberry – Elderberry bushes are often used in gardens and grow wildly. They can be identified by its smooth, gray-brown bark with bumps and a sponge-like material inside the branches, or by its snow-white flowers in the spring. In the later summer, they also produce elderberries, a black or purple fruit that grows in clusters. Both the berries and the fruit are edible. Throw the flowers in salads and prepare the berries rather than eating raw.
If you’re going foraging to pick wild edible plants try beeswax food wrap to bring them home and keep them fresh. There’s so much to explore and eat right in your own backyard, whether you live in the city or the country. Try out wild edible foods for dinner this weekend.