Wild Food for Busy People: Easy Ways To Include Wild Food In Your Diet

Walking into the field with a shovel. Cold hands on the smooth wooden handle. You are warmed by the smell of earth as you dig. Hands plunge into chill earth, searching with strong fingers. Finally, you clutch the wise burdock root, and you feel somehow compelled to bow.

Easy Ways to Add Wild Food to Your Diet
Salad of Romaine lettuce and wild Toothwort, Purple Dead Nettle and Redbud flowers. Photo by Jay Sturner.

There is something to be said for taking one’s time with plants. They offer so much more to our psyches than most of us living a modern lifestyle can comprehend. Watching a plant through all of its seasons, befriending the little star lady Chickweed and allying yourself with Burdock’s ancient wisdom. There is nothing to describe the joy. It is something like coming home.

But not everyone is up for harvesting burdock, or even devoting much of their busy lives to foraging. Those who work long hours during the week might want to include more wild foods in their diet than they have time to gather on the weekends. Those busy parenting might find a trip to the grocery store is the wildest jungle they can manage for a while (though children love foraging). I don’t always make time for foraging, but I do find immense value in eating wild plants every day. Thus: “Wild Food For Busy People.” Here are some easy ways that everyone can incorporate wild superfoods into their diet.

Get familiar with your backyard. If you have a backyard, you almost certainly have wild foods growing there. Start with a few simple foods like dandelions and purslane, and grab a handful while you’re waiting for the water to boil.

Keep dried wild foods by the stove. You can dry and keep just about any wild food, and add it to whatever dish you’re making. I like nettles, burdock, and seaweed. I end up with some very creative variations of meals that might not otherwise include these wild superfoods.

Ferment. I have burdock root pickles and wild sauerkraut with almost every meal. These dishes really don’t take long to make (shorter than many dinner recipes), can be easily made in large quantities, and nourish you for a long time.

Use perennial sides and seasonings. Gomasio is a prime example of a wild food seasoning you can use on just about anything. Play around with it, and add more wild ingredients when you can.

Hunt or buy wild meat. Though hunting is a skill that takes time to learn, one weekend in the woods can put a comparatively large amount of food in your freezer. If you don’t want to learn to hunt, consider asking a hunter if you can buy some of their meat.

Freezing. While it takes some time up-front, canning and (especially) freezing saves time in the long run. This is an especially useful technique if you can set aside a day to devote to wild food, but don’t want to worry about it for the rest of the week/month. Try freezing wild soup stock and stews or chopped vegetable medley with wild ingredients.

Get to know one plant. Try a plant you’re already familiar with–something that can be easily harvested and eaten. You’ll start seeing it everywhere. In places that aren’t polluted, go ahead and harvest it (leaving enough for it to continue growing). Keep it and throw it in the dinner pot or salad. Then get to know another plant. Even if you don’t have much time, you can still build relationships with plants this way, and experience the joy of the friendships they offer.

Nicholas Tippins

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