Last night I was experimenting with shelling and eating the seeds out of my green beans gone to see. Yes, I will save seed, but there is more than enough of that. I cooked the green bean seeds in salted water and added a touch of butter and it was really good. Mrs. Neighbor stopped by in time to comment that next we'll be finding a use for tomato leaves.
As challenge winds down, I thought a good topic would be food foraging. This is not my strongest area, and so much is location dependent that I hope you all will chime in on the subject.
Picture that the time has come when you have eaten and shared or lost all your stored food. You have made the switch to being committed to a truly simple lifestyle or perhaps TS really has HTF. Either way, you are looking to supply some of your calorie needs without spending any money.
Currently one can ask the produce manager if you can take the vegetable trimmings to feed to chickens or pigs. Often what you get is a lot of usable produce that you can sort out and use yourself before headed out to the animals. Some stores now have rules against such a thing, but often times employees set discarded produce by the dumpsters. Yesterday's MSNBC had an updated article on frugalists or regular employed persons who are stretching their dollars by eating out of the garbage cans. I'm not thinking I'll go there anytime soon but I have been known to happily pick things up from the curb with a 'free' sign - the precursor to freecycle.
In order to get my liberal arts degree in social sciences in college, I had to pass a certain amount of hard sciences. One way I got the credits was to take a really weird biology class called 'survival biology'. In this class we had to show proficiency in foraging, shelter making, orienteering and other things. We learned that bugs like grasshoppers are edible and nutritious but that they have to be cooked because they carry parasites. The test was then to eat baked grasshoppers - I suggest removing their scratchy legs first. Vermin are also quite nutritious - there's a lot of meat on a rat, and pigeons are all dark meat. Yes, we had to kill, cook and eat lab rats. (Luckily we were allowed a partner and my partner was a hunter - phew). Unfortunately city pigeons can also carry up to 65 diseases harmful to the human as well as toxins from pollution - so handle them carefully and don't eat them from a really dirty area. I'm thinking the pigeons who litter my rural church are pretty clean, and there are actual recipes for squab. Dog is still on the menu of many people in different cultures.
If that's too hard core for you, as you get out on foot and bicycle more, you will notice that down many a neighborhood alley way are fruit trees that grow over the fences, as well as herbs and perhaps strawberries that have left their yards. Few will object to your picking the fruit that grows into public space. You may even notice trees that are going unpicked and may ask to pick or to pick for the owner in trade for some of the crop. The same for the end of season gardens. If you have seen a large lovely garden, the owners may be done and would let you glean the last vegetables from the garden before winter. I mentioned in the comments of Shasha's blog that I had people gleaning in my garden this last week (and this is not the first time) but that while I have plenty to share, I would have liked to have been asked first.
I know a young man who grew up quite poor whose childhood play included gleefully gathering honey from a wild comb and picking edibles with his mother. And when I was a child I would get up very early in the morning with my cousins and my Uncle would send us out into Denver neighborhoods picking mushrooms. My Uncle was however thepresident of the mycological society at the time and so knew his shrooms.
The gathering of wild plants is so individual to your area. I have grown up knowing little by litte about the edible plants in my area: wild turnips, garlic, sego Lilly roots, tiger lilly roots, apples, currents, pinyon nuts, walnuts, paintbrush, lambsquarters, nasturtium, dandelion, Acorn (flour), prickly pear fruit, rose hips, purslane and cattail hearts to name a few available in the southwest. I lived for a short time in Tennessee and while I LOVED the green growth everywhere, I just didn't know it.
The plants I've mentioned are all pretty easy to spot - you probably can picture them in your mind and they don't have close poisonous look alikes - and so could use them in a pinch. However, if you are going to start in on wild harvesting, learn about all your plants - that way you will know the poisonous ones when you meet them, too. If a bit of jimsome weed were to accidentally get mixed in with edibles it would really wreak havoc with your health and mind. Avoid gathering beside busy roads as traffic pollution will gather in the plant, and know if the yard where you gather has been sprayed!
Do you have foraging stories? Do you have a favorite food that you forage? Could you identify enough plants to get a meal in good season where you live?