Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Re-wild yourself Part I: list of wild edibles

As I read a little bit of Michael Pollan's book "In defense of food", his overall health advice was to eat the foods that grow wild around us in our own environment. His argument was that when we eat the foods around us that grow wild are those that help us adapt to the environment and prevent diseases. Pollan concludes from researching cultures that it's important to follow cultural practices in consuming food rather than food science. Additionally, the soil and plant in the wild is cleaner than that grown in the big-Ag industry with all of its spray chemicals. Because the soil in the woods has more nutrients for years of composting leaf matter and other natural fertilizing, the edible foods are more nutritious, and have a diverse range of nutrients whereas the typical store-bought food is the same mix of ingredients of wheat and sugar components in a very strict ratio with no nutrition left after processing. Although it does not have quite the vegan or ethical message as far as what I usually highlight on this blog, I do see merit in his argument. I highly recommend reading this book, so request a copy from your local library.

In considering this from Pollan's argument, I find that I also strive to eat this way considering I do a lot of foraging behind my house. My Family and people around Kentucky, especially where I live, hunt for food like deer, fish, squirrel, turkey, and so that's their way of eating life that is around them in their environment.
Because I eat vegan, the wild foods I have eaten are fruits, nuts, greens/herbs, and mushrooms. Apparently there is a App on iTunes for Vegan recipes of wild edibles here: The Wild Vegan.

In past posts on wild edibles, I have shown you that I forage for mushrooms in the woods, as well as berries and paw paw fruits. Typically the kinds of mushrooms that grow behind my house are Chanterelle mushrooms and Chicken of the Woods, in the pictures below.
chanterelles foraged in kentucky woods

chanterelle & chicken of the woods mushrooms forage
Foraging Chanterelle & Chicken of the woods mushrooms in July
For more pictures of the mushroom foraging in the past years, go to the links provided at the end of this post.

Another mushroom found in Kentucky is Morels. When I was a kid, my Dad and I foraged for these and later he fried them and ate them with ketchup. This how I ate them growing up. I haven't had Morels in a long time because they grow early in the season, and I haven't come across a patch of Morels around my house. Because Chanterelles and Chicken of the woods grow behind my house, those are what I forage the most. I eat these types of mushrooms by tearing them into strips and frying them with a little oil, salt and pepper, served over rice or noodles.

Other wild edibles of Kentucky, and perhaps around you too, are Paw paw fruit trees. Last fall I found one paw paw growing among a young, new patch of Paw paws behind my house. The paw paw fruit never grew to a proper size to eat, but when it was so ripe it turned brown and black, I ate a piece and found it to be very tasty, like caramel or something.

Of course other wild edible fruits in the woods are berries. They are very easy to identify unlike mushrooms, but some berries can be questionable, however, I have found that I can trust the look of wild black berries and wild raspberries in the woods. Because there is a lot of land behind my house that I explore, I always find blackberries and raspberries to forage and eat. One year I foraged so many berries that I was able to make 10 half pints of jam. Another berry I love and forage around my house is dewberries. They look like blackberries, except they grow on a small vine that crawls across the ground. Typically they are larger than a blackberry.
Autumn berry, wild edible:
autumn olive berry
Another berry I like to forage for is huckleberry. It looks like similar to a blueberry plant but the berries are darker and tiny. Of course, the huckleberries around you may be different, considering I'm listing wild edibles I eat in Kentucky.
Many people have heard of this fruit because of Huckleberry Finn, but many have not explored the woods to eat this berry. And it's certainly not a berry we find in the grocery store, much like other wild foods.

The berries listed are typically harvested around July and August. Whereas the Autumn Olive, which as the name implies, is harvested in the fall, around September. I have not tried the Autumn Olive, but realized I have many of these plants growing around my house.
Elderberry is easily identifiable, usually growing along the side of the road like Autumn Olive plants (from what I've noticed). Elderberry is bitter, and eating these may require a lot of sugar or some kind of processing.


 Persimmons is another wild native fruit that all animals, including me, love to eat. The persimmons around here are very small compared to California and Asian persimmons that are large. I have noticed two different varieties of persimmons I have foraged where I live: one being a flavor like pumpkin pie (which is a similar flavor to the Hachiya and Fuyu persimmons); and the second being a flavor like orange icy pops.
foraged persimmons from kentucky

black raspberry forage in kentucky

blackberry and dewberry (right) forage

There are so many wild greens that are edible as well like ramps, dandelions, and chickweed. This young gentlemen, Sergei in the photo below, has a book on wild edibles titled "Wild Edibles" and apparently it's quite popular, so it seems to be a worthy purchase for those that want to take on this challenge of eating wild edibles. What he does with his wild edibles, I'm not quite sure, but I thought that he and his family were raw vegans, so I can imagine a lot of the greens are used for salads, smoothies, and juices. I would eat the greens all these ways including frying them.

Of course nut trees are plentiful, typically around property lines, but some remain in the woods for the squirrels to eat. Some of the wild nut trees around here are hickory and beechnut. There are many others such as Walnuts and pecans that I harvest from on peoples' property lines.

Where I live, there is a lot of logging for nut trees, so the woods has become a place of destruction. I am afraid that some of these wild foods like Paw paws may become extinct the more logging that is done. Because of clear cutting, Paw paws and other trees may not survive the logging industry due to equipment/machinery completely killing any other tree that would not have been cut for the logging company. It seems nothing is safe in its path. We must demand an alternative to clear cutting woods and forests, and oil businesses that also clear cut, and shopping malls and other projects that devastate the landscape. We must demand a different path to protect ecosystems, wildlife, and protect wild native plants.

Other related posts are provided below to find more information and pictures of foraging wild edibles, including more pictures of BIG foraging hauls of Chanterelle and Chicken of the woods mushrooms:

Late July Garden harvests (Peaches ... 
Foraging Chanterelle & Chicken of the woods mushrooms in July
BIG Garden Harvest in late August ...
Heirloom Solar Flare & Gold Berries ... 
Chanterelle mushrooms from the woods!
Rain for weeks grows BIG mushrooms ...
Foraging for Wild Edibles (Fall & Winter)
Pawpaw flower & Fruit identification ...
Apple, Persimmon, & Nut Foraging in ...
10 remarkably useful plants you can find in the wild
List of Uncommon Cold Hardy Fruit ... 

Similar to what Michael Pollan was speaking about with diet, Markus Rothkranz, a health "guru", has created this short video I have posted below which discusses the healing properties of wild edibles further as Pollan had.


  1. New Diet Taps into Pioneering Idea to Help Dieters Get Rid Of 20 Pounds within Just 21 Days!

  2. New Diet Taps into Pioneering Concept to Help Dieters Get Rid Of 20 Pounds in Only 21 Days!