Finding food and eating it can be a great pleasure in life, as well beneficial for your health and wealth. There are over 300 edible wild plants in New Zealand, with close to 200 of those being native. Then there are many plants which can be foraged in the wild, although they may be ‘escapees’ from cultivated gardens. It is not the lack of wild food that is the challenge for most of us. Not knowing what is edible and how to use or prepare the edible plants that is the challenge for many people.
Identifying and preparing locally, naturally grown wild food is a learning process that requires time and dedication. But it is a journey that is good for the body, good for the soul and good for the planet. It is a about the journey, not the destination. Follow the seasons, eat locally and reconnect with your innate ability to know what is good for you. If it seems overwhelming just remember that Lao Tzu said, “The Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”.
Why not begin with looking what it in your own backyard? Almost all of us can find some dandelion leaves. These are available throughout the year and full of minerals and so very easy to use! Just gather some of the younger leaves and add them to the next salad you make. They could even be the main ingredient in your salad, trim them and add lemon juice; olive oil and a hint of garlic (add some carrot and beetroot if you have children to appease). The entire plant is edible so you can’t go wrong.
Feeling a little under the weather? Go and collect some pine needles. Again, you can’t go wrong as all pine needles are edible (although the tastes do vary). Pine needles are packed with vitamins (especially C) and can be added to pizza and roasts. For a great bit of immunity support when feeling run down simply gather a handful of pine needles, cover with boiling water and simmer. Honey and lemon can be a nice addition. Drink this sweet and refreshing tea often and your body will thank you.
Welcome to your journey of incorporating wild foods into your life. If you feel inspired to, or already do, make wild food a part of your life we would love to hear your stories. Bon appètit.