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Few of the American and Canadian Indians had gardens when Columbus rediscovered the New World, instead regularly supplementing their meat and fish with wild fruits, nuts, roots, tubers, greens, seeds, beverages, and the like which they gathered free from the land. We can have the satisfaction of doing the same thing today, for these edible wild plants still grow everywhere.
You needn’t be any kind of an expert, even in this day of space travel and split atoms, to begin eating what remains unspoiled and free. If you will positively identify everything before you gather it-made easy at long last by this field guide with its detailed descriptions and its illustrations in full color-you will never have any trouble.
Wild foods have long been important on this young continent. Acorns probably rated the top position on the long list of edible wild vegetation depended upon by the Indians, acorn soup or mush being the chief daily food of more than three-fourths of the native Californians. Too, when Cortez and his conquistadors advanced through the dry, open Southwest, they found the Indians of the region using the tiny brown, grey, and white seeds of the chia for food, a teaspoonful of them being regarded as sufficient to sustain a brave for a day on a forced march.
Indians long used the seeds of the lamb’s quarter, 75,000 of which have been counted on a single plant, for cereal and for grinding into meal. Although the purslane that today grows wild from one coast to the other does not become large, 52,300 seeds have been found on a single plant, and the Indians in our Southwest used these for making bread and mush. They made a nutritious meal from the roasted seeds of the shepherd’s purse. Incidentally, the green leaves of all three of these plants are delectable.
If you’ve ever sat down to a well prepared meal that included wild vegetables, maybe you’ve noticed that many of them seem to taste better than domesticated varieties from the store. I’ll let you in on a trade secret. They are better.
Learn about all the edible wild plants that are in your area and how to cook them.
There are over 2003 edible wild plants noted in this guide
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