A “Sidewalk-to-Table” project on edible weeds. We do cooking demonstrations, share recipes, offer tastings, participate in art exhibitions, host dinners, produce cooking videos, and make informational planters.
Weeds are found everywhere – your aunt’s backyard, by the sidewalk, parking lots, or climbing up a telephone pole. In spite of hostilities and herbicides, they grow wild and strong. So much so that they often take over the growth of what some call ‘superior vegetation’ – meaning those you buy at garden stores and supermarkets, or those deemed to rightly ‘belong’.
Weeds do not refer to specific plants. Instead, ‘weeds’ is a concept that is driven by political ideologies about belonging. Whether at a golf course, commercial farm, or spaces claimed by ‘nations,’ weeds are plants labeled as interlopers, ones we are taught to disdain…. then eradicate.
This project aims to upend the bad reputation of weeds. Many are edible, nutritious, and delicious. Many are medicinal, attract pollinators, and replenish depleted soil. We are rarely informed about this because the one thing that all weeds have in common is that they are FREE. Being able to get stuff for FREE is bad for capitalism.
Knowledge about edible weeds is timely for our current moment. Climate catastrophe, COVID-19, and intensifying nationalisms have made us more aware of our vulnerabilities than ever before. As the gross mishandling of the ongoing global pandemic COVID-19 shows us, capitalism and nation-states pit us against each other, allowing resources to always go to the highest bidder. This has long included unequal access to food.
This moment, however, can also be a wake-up call to recognize that our collective survival depends on our cooperation, rather than competition, with each other.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
BASIC RULES ABOUT FORAGING
1. Never harvest more than you need. Leave some for fellow creatures and for the plants to regrow.
2. Observe if the area has been treated with pesticides and herbicides. Talk with those who maintain the area. Even if plants are sprayed it does not impact new growth after the spraying. Roots are more of a concern since toxicity can remain in the soil.
3. Tend the area like it is your garden to ensure continued availability.
+ A Hiker’s Guide to Trailside Plants in Hawaii (2008). John Hall
+ Edible Wild Plants: Eastern/Central North America (1999). Lee Allen Peterson and Roger Tory Peterson
+ Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places (1994). Steve Brill and Evelyn Dean
+ Natty by Nature
+ Wild Food Plants of Hawai‘i (2015). Sunny Savage