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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Toler

Wildly Nutritious Foraged Foods

Hello Friends :)

I have been full of Springtime excitement as I've been feeling nurtured by the land and I wanted to share. Just this week, I made wild violet lemonade, have gathered wild spring onions and dandelion greens for our dinner soups and sautés, and I'm dreaming of soon-to-come wild nettle pesto and pretty sorrel garnishes on my salads and toast. Thank you, Mother Nature!

Wild violets make a blue tea. Once lemon is added, it becomes this beautifully vibrant violet lemonade. A touch of honey and voila!

It has taken me a couple of years of living here in the wild Blue Ridge Mountains to gain the confidence to forage these few varieties I mentioned above. As time passes, I learn more and more about herbalism and foraging and I feel grateful for this ancient knowledge that we've been largely divorced from. It's ironic this feels so novel when these practices are as old as we are.

For the most part, I was raised on conventional processed foods and in apartments! I was called to Asheville nearly five years ago with no real knowledge of the area but now I am realizing all the tools this region has gifted to help me attain my desire of living a healthy and holistic lifestyle, in harmony with nature. I'm committed to unlearning the ways of our modern culture that have led us into poor health while I increase the diversity and nutrition in my diet.

Dosa topped with wild nettle pesto and sorrels.

Did you know that wild edibles contain more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than farmed foods? They're even more nutrient-dense than organic. I use them as a garnish or an accent when making meals as they do tend to have strong flavor and I don't want to over-pick growing areas. Whenever I harvest something new, I search the internet for tips on timing or cutting to be sure that I'm harvesting sustainably. I also have a couple of plant ID books for this region. Furthermore, there are plant ID apps that I use when tuning into new and interesting plants on our property.

Dandelion greens and spring onions are delicious in soups and sautés.

It's super important not to forage in areas where vehicles pass or that are sprayed with pesticides or are high in other pollutants. And also, if you're not 1000% sure of what something is, don't eat it. Even though at least half of wild plants are edible, many are poisonous and it's important to know what you are consuming. When in doubt, don't eat it.

Do you ever forage? What are your favorite plants or mushrooms? Can you recommend a wild edible cookbook? I'd love to learn more.

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