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Thousands of pounds of food … wasted?

Were people to truly understand that tens if not hundreds or thousands of pounds of food were being wasted each year in communities across the nation, there would probably be some sort of outcry. Indignation at least. Perhaps a call to action, a call to reform.

wild edibles in Howard County, MD - violets

Violets, both the flowers and leaves, are in your yard, delicate and delicious, nutritious and free.

I can tell you this food waste is true, though I doubt such indignation and calls to reform will happen for it is in the eyes of the beholder to see this food and call it such. And such perspective requires a shift in thinking and perspective. Given my own challenges with change and watching/experiencing others deal with paradigm shifts, I’d gander my claims will seem extreme. For now, that is.

I offer that tens/hundreds of thousands of pounds of food are, indeed, being wasted each year simply for the lack of willingness to expand our individual and collective thinking to include wild edibles as food. Particularly now, particularly in the months of spring, the bounty of food that is edible in most people’s lawns, in open fields and along pathways, at the edges of woods, and along highways and roads is robust and plentiful.

In each generational season, attitudes toward pretty much everything make a huge shift. Each “cultural season” is approx 20 years long and the cultural attitude of the times matches what one would associate with a season in nature. We’re in Winter now. A time of making do with what one has. A time of conserving resources. A time of being creative with what’s available and on hand because the nights are long, the days are cold and and it may yet be some time before the ground thaws let alone the plants set fruit and vegetables. And so we make do in Winter. That’s the cultural undertone. We find ways to DIY. (Anyone else notice the profound spike in DIY energy, craft and maker orientation, people’s pride in “I made it myself,” a surge in the desire to can vegetables, homestead, live off the land, garden, make do … ?) That’s the energy of Winter, and it’s appropriate to the season.

So how have I opened my own eyes to see resources where perhaps I hadn’t seen them before? In my own yard and community —

  • violet flowers and leaves are exquisite, delicate and nutritious,
  • redbud flowers are pretty and tasty; they’re kind of nutty flavored,
  • dandelion flowers made in to tea are seasonally appropriate to what our bodies need in spring after a long winter,
  • chicory makes for a great salad leaf, and
  • tender wild grape leaves can be harvested and cooked in many dishes.

These are just a few examples of what is available, free, healthy, local and seasonal. While it may seem extreme today and while many people may say, “I’m not going to eat any weeds!” I offer that local wild edibles is the next big trend in food. And the beauty of it all? You needn’t go to an upscale “health food” store and spend $87 on one bag of groceries to eat this way. The food is all available, around and, literally, there for the taking.

I want to learn more about wild edibles, and I’m interested in connecting with others who are knowledgable and/or curious. I’ve created a Pinterest board of wild edibles in Howard County, Md., and I’m open to having others pin relevant wild edibles.

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