When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do during indoor recess in 4th grade was to play Oregon Trail. You know the one—though it was designed to teach children about American history, all us 90’s kids know that we spent the majority of the game naming our wagon mates stupid names (so that we could hear the distinctive, descending sound of impending doom announcing that “Stinky Butthead has died of dysentery”) and hunting fields of pixilated bison as much as our limited supply of bullets would allow us.
There was, to my mind, an arresting feature, however: the ability to forage for wild fruit. The idea that Food Was Out There was fascinating to my young mind, and combined with voracious reading of books like Little House on the Prairie, a fledgling interest in wild edibles was formed. To my mother’s great chagrin, this was not originally backed up with a whole lot of research, and she started to find me in the back yard, experimentally chewing on a tree leaf or clutching a handful of foraged berries of indeterminate origin. It’s a wonder I didn’t make a stomach-pump worthy mistake.
With some much-needed parental redirection, I soon discovered how delicious wild blackberries and wild black cherries could be. Summer camp brought knowledge of sour “Indian chewing gum” and delightfully lemony wood sorrel. My cousins and I puckered over crab apples (though they more often became projectiles than food...) and picked elderberries from the side of the road.
I am so thankful that I was not completely discouraged from exploring, because the fascination never left me. The desire to understand my region’s plants kept growing through experiences working in a National Park, nature centers, and hikes with older, more knowledgeable foragers. When Andrew and I began dating, one of the many things we shared was a mutual interest in wild food. He introduced me to one of our favorite authors on the subject, Samuel Thayer, and his excellent books on edible plants. Once we got engaged, my parents finally resigned themselves to the fact that we were doomed to be the weird couple geeking out over a plant and then eating it off the ground. There was no fixing it this time.
For us, wild edibles aren't just an interest--they are often dinner! There is bountiful, free, nutritious food everywhere, if you know how and where to look. We have shared this bounty with family and friends, and we want to also share these experiences and recipes with you. We promise that every plant we introduce is one we've actually found, eaten, and not died from.
Andrew and I know that our Father has designed the world well, and we take the words of Genesis 1:29 to heart. "And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food." Once upon a time, the wisdom of how to find and eat plants was well-known...now, with GMO craziness, seriously overpriced organic stores, and a general lack of understanding, it sometimes seems that we've never been farther from eating the way we were actually designed. It's time to rediscover just how delicious weeds can be.
So come along with us and tune in soon for our first wild food spotlight: Wild Spinach!
We are a husband and wife who are trying to live simply. We are learning much as we transition from life in the city to life in the country. Come along with us, and maybe you can also learn a thing or two as well.
We love writing for these fine folks as well!
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Simple Life Homestead