Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
Wild Wanderings Blog – June 14, 2012
Hello once again my fellow farm-dreamers! I sincerely hope all of you are experiencing much Love and prosperity in your lives. Summer is right around the corner and aside from the numerous wild edibles (A.K.A. weeds) I’ve been eating…I am eagerly awaiting berry season! Yay!! Wineberries, blueberries, raspberries, elderberries and blackberries seem to be quite thick this year and will soon become not only a welcomed trailside treat, but an important component to my overall health and well-being also.
In the meantime, many abundant wild greens are quite available. One of my favorites, lamb’s quarters, is quite common and extremely nutritious. Easily identified by most and literally profuse on many farms, lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album) in particular, warrants special attention. It is truly an incredible edible! The young leaves can be eaten raw and added to salads, or cook the top 4 (or so) inches of the plant and large leaves, like spinach or collards. The taste is absolutely delicious even without seasoning or butter! “Move over spinach!”:))
I know the thought of eating weeds is foreign to most of us, but the facts may surprise you. Lambs quarters greens boast almost as much vitamin A as carrots and are richer in vitamin C than fresh spinach. This wonderful plant also contains significant amounts of calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. In addition…it has B-complex vitamins, numerous trace minerals and is a source of protein, iron and fiber. Not bad for a weed huh? Sadly, I’ve witnessed fields that have contained literally hundreds of pounds of lambs quarters go completely ignored and even destroyed through ignorance. It was free food that could have sustained and nourished many a hungry soul.
From a wilderness survival standpoint, it’s not a plant you’re likely to find in the middle of the woods. In fact, it does not like shade and prefers lots of Sun. It pulls many nutrients from the soil, but various sources claim it does well with cultivated crops like corn, potatoes and cucumbers. As a caution!!...I’ve read that it can contain heavy amounts of nitrogen (which can make you ill) if collected from soils laden with such from livestock. Personally, I’ve never encountered this, but it’s certainly worth mentioning.
The shiny black tiny seeds are easily collected when mature. These should not be ignored for they are rich in fat and albumen and can be collected in quantity. Many of us are aware of its close cousin Chenopodium quinoa. That’s right…lambs quarters is related to quinoa, an ancient grain that’s finding its way to more and more dinner tables each year. Historically, is has been used to make bread and fatten up domestic fowl…hence… earning one of its common names, “fat hen.” Others include…goosefoot, pigweed and wild spinach among numerous others.
Interestingly, several farmers I’ve spoken with are very aware of this plant and have eaten it, but really don’t utilize it to their full advantage. This is the case with many “so-called” weeds. Last night I enjoyed the taste and texture of the leaves added to a wildly jazzed up spaghetti sauce, served over rice noodles. Lamb’s quarters are truly an abundant gift to be enjoyed by all.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and input. Please consider joining a group I started called “Traditional / Primitive Living Skills” and I do encourage you to ask questions and contribute.
Richard Cleveland lives in Asheville, NC. He is the founder and director of Earth School. A self-trained Naturalist, fishing and nature guide, he has taught traditional native skills to thousands of people, of all ages. For info about his programs visit www.LoveTheEarth.com
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