Dear America, we need to step up our game when it comes to building a strong immune system. If you’ve read my some of my past posts here on The Hot Mess Press, you know that wellness and boosting immune system health are frequent topics of mine. Today, I’d like to share helpful information about forageable plants.
I clearly remember the initial reaction my immediate family members had when I first began my journey into researching and using forageable plants in our daily lives. One or the other of them would look at my bowl and ask, “You’re going to eat a bowl of weeds?” Fast forward to 2020, and most of them have come on-board in my quest to improve immune system health by eating wild plants that grow on our property.
Forageable plants disclaimer
I typically add a disclaimer to the end of a post any time I write about health issues or natural remedies and such. I want to add the disclaimer up front regarding forageable plants because it is a top priority. I do not have a medical or science degree of any kind. I do not intend this post to be medical advice. I am merely sharing what I have learned through several decades of research and life experience.
Also, location is important. I do not recommend foraging plants from a city park, for instance, where greenery and weeds have undoubtedly been heavily sprayed with pesticides. There are also state laws prohibiting the picking of plants in some areas.
Make sure your identification is 100% certain
Forageable plants often have look-alikes growing in the wilderness, which may be highly toxic. Such plants can have severe, adverse health consequences. This is why, if you want to learn how to forage food to boost your immune system, you need to do your homework first! If I’m not 100% certain that I have correctly identified a forageable plant, I do not pick it. This practice likely saved the life of one of my children.
I was about six months pregnant and had recently moved to our home in the woods. I kept smelling this pungent, wintergreen aroma in the air, and eventually traced it to a patch of plants that were growing at the edge of the forest. It was a “mint” I had never encountered, and I was hoping to dry some and make tea. Still, I was hesitant because I was not 100% certain what it was, and understood the importance of making sure it was safe before consuming it. I was greatly relieved that I insisted on learning more before trying my newly found herb when a friend was able to identify the plant for me. It turns out it was American Pennyroyal, which can be fatal to infants in the womb!
Scary stuff aside, forageable plants are healthy
There are numerous forageable plants growing in the fields and woods where I live. The following list includes some of the ones we eat most often:
- Dandelions: These delicate yellow flowers, like many forageable plants, bloom in spring time. Every part of the dandelion plant is edible, and this informative video explains the tremendous health benefits you can gain by incorporating it into your diet.
- Wild garlic: That potent onion-like aroma that wafts through the air after you mow the lawn is likely coming from the wild garlic you just cut down. You might consider harvesting it first next time, because this is a natural, quick and easy way to add “chives” to your salads, soups or stews!
- Purslane: A succulent vine that grows prolifically in my garden every year, purslane has a crunchy, citrus-like flavor that adds a tasty touch to a salad. It’s a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids and is a powerful antioxidant as well. NOTE: This is one of the foreageable plants that has a toxic look-alike, so make sure you learn how to tell the difference! (It’s easy to do, once you know how.)
- Violets: Who doesn’t feel happy when they see a spring time field of violets blooming? Both the leaves and flowers of this tiny plant are edible and rich in vitamins A and C.
- Plantain: You can use plantain leaves to make a poultice that helps relieve itch, inflammation, swelling and discomfort from bee stings or insect bites. It is also edible, and is high in vitamins A and C, as well as calcium. Hint: Older leaves tend to be stringy and tough, so harvest them before they reach full maturity.
This list included the forageable plants I find most abundant where I live. There are many others, such as morel mushrooms, which, to my great disappointment, I’ve been unable to find on my property. I know they grow in my region because I have many friends who harvest them every year. Morel mushrooms also have a toxic look-alike, so proceed with caution. I hear they’re quite tasty, and in some places, sell for a hefty price!
Forageable plants are like manna from heaven
My son and I were recently enjoying a walk in our woods and were chatting about forageable plants. It occurred to us how we humans often try to rid the earth of the very things God placed here to help us stay healthy. Think about it. People typically see the plants I’ve listed here today as weeds that should be destroyed. Here is a photo of an actual salad I recently foraged from our yard for lunch! I made a dressing using balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic salt, a spoonful of chia seeds and oregano, and my salad was delicious!
These “weeds” grow in abundance without a need to tend them! They are rich in vitamins and minerals, and have many health benefits if we eat them! Isn’t it logical that God provided this food for us, and delighted in filling the earth with forageable plants we can easily harvest? Yet, we rip it out, mow it down and discard it, wasting FREE food that can help us build strong immune systems! As this post goes live, most states are still in quarantine, which means you might have time to learn more about foraging, and I hope you will!