Monday, May 18, 2009

Foraging for wild, medicinal plants and herbs

Foraging for wild food is not a "I just happened to see it" activity anymore. More and more websites are sprouting up with tips about what and how to forage native plants in your local neighborhood. So, what does "forage" mean? Generally, to forage for wild food is to search for and identify natural food sources safe for eating.

Whether in the country or an urban setting, wild foraging is a good way to incorporate local foods, including medicinal plants and herbs, into your everyday diet. For example, dandelion is a common weed found in many backyards. Medicinally, dandelion has a long history of use as a diuretic, tonic, and aperient. The tops can be eaten fresh in salads and the root, when dried, makes an excellent coffee substitute. (Before eating from the wild, make sure you have correctly identified the plant. For this, you may want to go foraging with a local expert or reference a reputable guidebook. Also, avoid plants that may have absorbed harmful toxins, such as plants growing by the roadside.)

In Portland, Oregon, where ACHS is based, some of the most commonly foraged foods include, pears, berries, walnuts, lavender, mint, and rosemary. (The ACHS Botanical Teaching Garden, for example, invites locals to cut fresh herbs. such as rosemary and chives, for personal use, and will host a U-Pick Lavender event in July.)

For information about wild foraging in Portland, check out the Urban Edibles website, and for foraging wild and edible plants in your area, check out

Click here for more information about upcoming ACHS community classes and to download free information about growing, harvesting, and using medicinal plants to support your health.

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