Urban Foraging Experiment #1

Lamb's QuartersI’ve been doing some research on edible weeds around Ottawa, and one lovely little plant that is spreading its delicate new leaves right now is Lamb’s Quarters.  It’s so cute right now with its light green frosting on the youngest smallest leaves, and it’s abundant in unkept areas around lawns, driveways, and in untended gardens.

I decided last night would be my first urban foraging experiment of the year, and I picked a bunch of Lamb’s Quarters to toss into a salad.  I easily found enough to add to a salad for two (and could have had much more!) within a block from my house, and picked it.  

When I took it out of my bag it smelled so fresh and grassy but with a savoury asparagus-like edge to it.  I triple washed it, including one wash with vinegar, in case of canine sprinklings, dried it in my salad spinner, and added it to our salad.  

Before dressing the salad, I tried a leaf, and . . . while it tasted edible, I can’t say it tasted “good”, but I forged ahead nonetheless.

With dressing and everything mixed together, the salad tasted pretty good.  But I think that was because it was a good salad with good dressing . . .  I wouldn’t say the Lamb’s Quarters “added” anything except a sense of pride in my foraging abilities and the knowledge that it took absolutely no input from any person to grow it: no fossil fuels, no extra water, no labour even. However, on the basis on taste, I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat it, is what I’m saying.

So Experiment #1 is basically a Fail, though not a terrible one.  No one got sick, and the food was definitely edible.  So if you want to eat something foraged just because you can, go ahead and sample your local Lamb’s Quarters.  But if you want a new tasty local delicacy . . . I wouldn’t recommend starting here.

Coming up in future experiments I’m planning to try Plantain Leaves, Rose Hips, Burdock, and a repeat of my exciting big Win from last year: Cherries from the tree down the street!  Yummmmmm.  I’ll keep you posted!

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