In the Weeds: A Beginner's Guide to Foraging


Foraging. It’s a buzzword you'll soon start hearing everywhere, if you haven't already (foraged fiddleheads or ramps are on all the hip spring menus). It's also an ancient way of gathering food.

“Foraging is not associated with Dumpster diving,” laughs Ava Chin, urban forager and author of "Eating Wildly," addressing a common misconception. "Yes, is it a kind of 'freeganism,' but no, I do not eat roadkill. Foraging is a way of learning about the edible plants that are all around us, whether in a city, a suburban yard, or a state park.”

Nowhere near the wilderness? Ava wants you to know that the "concrete jungle" actually hides many wild edibles. “You can find a variety and abundance of wild foods in a city or in the suburbs.”

A number of edible plants and mushrooms can be found throughout the country, in fact. Ava cites the wild plant lambsquarters -- a relative to spinach, quinoa, and beets, and one of most nutritious plants, she says. “It’s prized in Greek, Persian, and Bangladeshi cuisines, but here it’s a weed, hard to find to buy in even a farmers’ market." Yet lambsquarters grows “everywhere from semi-arid L.A. to busy avenues in Brooklyn.” Ava has found it on “college campuses, in friends' backyards, parks -- almost everywhere.”

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