Wild Food Walks with ForageSF

by Celeste Noche, Epicuring

In a region as metropolitan as the Bay Area, it’s easy to think that our only resources for produce are markets, farms, and gardens. ForageSF has set out to correct this misconception by leading educational Wild Food Walks and working to “rediscover a forgotten food source.”

While foraging is only legal by permission on private land, these Wild Food Walks offer more than a morning of searching for plants. This past Sunday, I joined Kevin Feinstein as he led a group of 16 people through Golden Gate Park. Having grown up in the Bay Area myself, I never imagined that edible plants were in such abundance in our own big-city park. Kevin noted how to properly identify each edible we stumbled upon while also sharing its nutritional value and ways to eat or use the plants.

Here are some of our interesting finds and ways to incorporate them into everyday uses:

1. Stinging Nettles, blend into a pesto or cook down and eat like any other green
2. Broad Leaf Plantains, helps assuage burns
3. Pine Needles, chop and steep to make tea
4. Common Mallow, dry leaves then use as a natural thickener
5. Nasturtium, add the leaves (spicy) and/or the flowers (sweet & spicy) to salads

Throughout this two-hour walk, the importance of safety and discretion was always heavily emphasized. Finding and identifying wild plants can be exhilarating, but Kevin cautions to never eat something with less than 110% certainty of what it is– or with someone else who can provide the certainty for you.

Although I, personally, will need more practice before feeling comfortable with plant identification, I felt the Wild Food Walk was most valuable because it opened up an entirely new world of food to me. Not only is foraging sustainable, but it encourages us to be more creative in the kitchen while being more connected to our land.

stinging nettlesbroad leaf plantainnew zealand spinachnew zealand spinachnew zealand spinachlooking at new zealand spinach
black night shadetalking about pine pollen kevinnasturtiumnasturtiumevening primrose seeds
nasturtiumcommon mallowdiscussing sour grassyarrowkevinnasturtium

forageSF, a set on Flickr.

ForageSF hosts Wild Food Walks several times a month in San Francisco, the Easy Bay, and the North Bay; as well as Wild Mushrooms sessions and San Francisco Fishing Tours.
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