Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Many Parts of a Pine Tree Are Edible"

They just don't taste good, or have much nutritional value...

Feasts are afoot in area forests
Walk down any nature trail, field or patch of woods in the Fredericksburg area, and you pass by a veritable feast of edible plants.

But most people don’t know the difference between the edible and tasty false nettle, and poison hemlock—both of which grow along the Rappahannock River.

So, Hal Wiggins, a local environmental scientist, and Lytton J. Musselman, a botanist and professor at Old Dominion University, spent three years researching not only which common plants along the East Coast are good—and safe—to eat, but also where to find them, and how to identify and cook them.

The result is their new book, “The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants,” (Johns Hopkins University Press, $18).

“It’s just the essentials for people who want to go out and forage,” said Wiggins, who has spent much of his career prowling area forests and waterways as a scientist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ field office in Fredericksburg.

The book includes more than 50 edible plants, separated by category: greens, starches, grains, flowers and sweets. There are pictures for easy reference and recipes.
The title quote, of course, refers to the old 1970s Grape Nuts advertisements by Ewell Gibbons, a "natural food expert".  I wasn't able to find the "pine tree" quote ad, but here's another favorite,  "reminds me of wild hickory nuts".  Having several wild hickory trees in my yard, I am reminded that it's virtually impossible for anyone other than an Eastern Gray Squirrel to open a wild hickory nut, and actually gain energy from the encounter.  And they don't taste like much (although the pecan is a cultivated, thin skinned hickory).

I was told by a white guy in Australia that he went for a walk with an aborigine in the outback, one of the most desolate areas I've ever seen, and came back fuller than when he left. People can eat and digest a lot, and with a little work, a many apparently poisonous plants can be made into useful food sources (Indians Native Americans in California consumed many acorns, which would be toxic if consumed unprepared.

One song for the road:

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