Summer is upon us, and it’s around this time of year that my daily dog walks take a turn from admiring bountiful blooms to exploring nutritious and delicious outdoor edibles. A few years back, I realized that I could take my discovery to the next level and began foraging. The result has been joyful: Not only do I get in an hour of exercise, but I’m able to find amazing nutritious, organic —and free!— foods nestled in suburban New York.
Fruits and herbs are at the forefront of my findings, many of which are not only Super Foods, but are easy to prepare and scrumptious in every way.
And the fact that these delicious, nutrient-rich foods are free is truly worth every step. For example, at my local health food store dried mulberries are sold for $11 a bag, while, by exploring the outdoors, I’ve discovered them falling off the trees that border my back yard. The uses of mulberries, both white and black, are diverse and varied, as they can be dried, tossed into a smoothie, added to salad or just eaten plain, as a fruit. This Super Food has been widely used for centuries in Chinese medicine, as it contains significant amounts of vitamins, is packed with fiber, boasts a low glycemic index rating, beneficial for those conscious of their sugar intake, and has proven useful in treating various health conditions.
Aronia Berries, also known as Choke Cherries, are another find native to our area. Typically more expensive than organic blueberries, they are filled with nutrients and are one of the highest sources of antioxidants. I also find Bramble Berries and cherries along my trek, and happily help myself to a handful, immediately envisioning them used to make sweet jams and dessert compotes.
Vegetables are plentiful this time of year as well, such as Morrel Mushrooms, Wild Ramps, which are a variety of onion, and Fiddlehead Ferns, a gourmet wild veggie that is prepared and eaten similarly to asparagus. Amazing herbs are also found along the way, including Dandelion, Stinging Nettles and All Heal, all of which contain properties helpful in healing and health.
Motivated to begin foraging?
If you’re motivated to begin foraging, avoiding sprayed areas is a must, but there’s more to keep in mind. It’s important to ask permission before picking, to harvest on the edge of the plant and take just a small amount of the offering, perhaps 10-15 percent, so the plant’s supply isn’t depleted. After all, once you’ve experienced the fulfillment of foraging and the recipes that result, you’ll certainly want to come back for more.