Foraging for Spring Greens
Plough to Pantry
If you’ve never tasted wild dandelion or chickweed or picked creasy greens in the mountains, you are in for a treat.
“What is a weed,” asks Ralph Waldo Emerson, “but a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered?” Before you root out those pesky interlopers, take a plant walk with a local forager and learn to identify the delicious edible treasures underneath your feet.
Wild foods educator and philosoforager Alan Muskat of Asheville’s No Taste Like Home has led local wild food tours in Western North Carolina since 1995. He views foraging as living “land to mouth,” trusting nature to provide everything we need.
Muskat advises first time foragers to spend time with someone who knows the plants in your area. “It can be frustrating and scary to decide on your own if a plant is the same plant pictured in your guidebook.”
He is quick to dispel the common myths about foraging: that it’s too much work or too dangerous. On the contrary, people of all ages and abilities can forage, and the best foragers are children because they live closer to the earth.
Muskat believes that feeding oneself from nature is as much a basic life skill as math and literacy. No Taste Like Home teaches children in the public schools to forage through The Afikomen Project. This project is funded in part by The Asheville Wild Foods Market, which sells foraged seasonal edibles at the River Arts District Farmers Market from April to October.
The wild foods market also offers a free “accidentification prevention service.” Show them your foraged greens and they will help you make a positive identification!
The best time to forage for wild edible greens is right now, when they are at their tender best. Your eyes will never look at a weed the same way again. “Find dining” is all the rage, so get outside and forage ahead.