I like to share inspiring blogs from other people. This one especially caught my eye.
Eating Wild Foods in the City
Perhaps due to being raised in the country I have a propensity for eating random wild plants. Only when I moved into a urban setting did I begin realizing how fortunate I was to grow up in an environment where I wasn’t taught to be afraid of the living things around me. It was also then that I realized that people were often completely unaware of the amazing resources for free food surrounding them.
One common example I can think of is the dandelion. In the city, Dandelions are usually regarded as annoying weeds that must be exterminated at all costs. However, dandelions have multiple other uses, such as winemaking with the heads and/or roots, tea, and salad greens (the young leaves are extremely tasty, but once they get older they turn very bitter). Along with dandelions, violets, roses, clover and vetch all have edible flowers and can be used fresh in salads or whatever else you like.
Of course it’s important to consider the pollution factor with this. Picking plants to eat from next to a highway, for example, might not be all that advisable. And planting a garden in the city is a bit more complicated what with the need for soil tests etc. But my general feeling is that the amount of chemicals, hormones and radiation that most grocery store food is subjected makes eating it not a lot better than eating wild foods from the city, or food grown in city soils. There was a lot of debate over this in the Permaculture group I’m part of…people seem to feel much less comfortable with toxins they are immediately aware of. So it’s up to you where your comfort zone is.
Something else you might want to take notice of is if your city is actually planting edibles. In a city in Illinois where I was living the local University had hundreds of Aronia bushes growing around their buildings- Aronia happens to make lovely wine! In Montreal where I now live the city has started using chard and dill, among other leafy greens and herbs, in their planters city wide! Keep your eyes open.
A great project could be taking on the creation of a fruit/bush map for your city. This would involve going around and finding all the hidden apple trees and raspberry bushes which have been built around and squashed into alleyways and bike paths that could be a source of free food for you and other animals. You will undoubtedly find a plethora of resources at your fingertips! For some helpful tips and examples of fallen fruit maps, go to Fallen Fruit.org.