Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wild foods

Was going to go out with my parents today, but decided today was too nice to let myself be stuck in stores. Stuck around at their place for a little bit afterward, their dog tagging along, and took a short walk along the creek there.

This was when I realized that, in addition to the fact that I spent more time outside when I was a kid and living with them, I have also been missing something from my diet since I moved out of there.

Wild foods.

Notice I didn't say natural foods. No, I'm not talking organic. I'm talking about honest to god, walk out into your backyard or the nearest forest where countless animals are bound to have peed on it kind of wild food. Best stuff in the world, I'm telling you.

See, it's not that the yard I share with my grandparents isn't nice, just for some reason between here and just 1/4 mile down the road the ecosystem is different. For one, up here I'd be more at risk of farm contaminants even if I did find something, since the fields right by me are crop fields. My parents live next to a cow pasture but that land is pretty much chemical-free. Yes, the creek also runs by my backyard too, but it doesn't have those low-slope banks, and just doesn't seem to have the same kind of soil. Here we have a few inedible weeds (okay, nettles are edible/make good teas after they dry, but are YOU going to pick them for me?). But there is a little spot right by my parents' creek that they never mow, that has wild onions, violets, and all sorts of things that are probably also edible if I cared to look them up.

And when I was a kid and spending so much time in the interesting diversity of my parents' yard, I would grab whatever plants were nearby and just munch on them, not even stopping to think of what kind they were. Various weeds I'd eat the shoots. Much to my mother's dismay I was fond of her daylily shoots too - didn't know at the time that daylily shoots and petals are, in fact, a perfectly edible food source. I just knew the little white bits tasted good.

So I wonder what nutrients are missing from my diet now that I don't just sit around outside and eat plants at random. Who knows what good I may have gotten from those? I certainly seemed healthy back then.

Of course, it was probably as much the sunlight as anything else.

Anyway, tonight I am planning to toss some chicken in the wok and stir fry it with some mushrooms, wild onions, and violets. Unfortunately the mushrooms are not wild - I forgot to ask my folks before they left if I could snatch some of the morels my other grandparents brought up from West Virginia. I'm not sure how many they have left anyway.

I suppose I'll give them a call and see if they want to do that for dinner and share with me.