This Week At Cornercopia: Wild Cooking Greens

This week at Cornercopia, we did something a little odd. Instead of just looking in our beds of vegetables for the vegetables you've come to expect at our farmers market stands, we looked for weeds as well. This doesn't sound too weird until you realize that we were looking for them to harvest, not weed. To say that you're eating weeds seems rather uncivilized, so we like to call this abundance of foraged food "wild cooking greens. There's tons of them out in our fields that the interns have been learning about this week. Amaranth (often called pigweed), purslane, and lambsquarters are the three most common.

Palmer Amaranth

There's many who seem to agree with us when we talk about eating foraged greens. Yesterday, the same day we were selling amaranth at our farmers market stands, an article came out called "This weed is taking over the planet. On the upside, it's delicious!" Palmer amaranth, a relative of the plant that is used to grow amaranth as a grain, is one of the many "weeds" we find in our gardens that can actually be eaten. Lynn Sosnoskie, a weed scientist at UC Davis has an awesome quote about the mindset we have about weeds. "We call these plants weeds because of the way we interact with them. They're in our gardens, they're in our lawns, and they're competing with plants that we prefer to eat. But a lot of the plants that are weeds here in the United States were brought here purposefully - to be eaten." Ms. Sosnoskie has done some reasearch with our friend, the amaranth as well. She and others in the Horticulture department at UC Davis think that these weeds are underutilized and could be utilized as a real food source. Over at Purdue University's indigenous vegetables project, they're looking at the popularity of amaranth in eastern Africa and how this green might have a jump in popularity as the United States gets more immigrants from that region of the world.

Challenging the "weed mindset" is not terribly difficult once you actually try eating some of these greens. Amaranth, for example, can be cooked like spinach, lambsquarters tastes like spinach as well and the young shoots are excellent in salads, and purslane, another common weed, can be eaten like a sprout. My favorite discovery so far is purslane and cottage cheese. Yum. Many of these greens keep well in your fridge as well. Purslane is a succulent green so it stays fresh for longer than a flat leaf green. Amaranth has an impressive taproot that is fairly easy to pull up, so when harvesting, pulling out the whole plant and wrapping the taproot in wet paper towel keeps the plants fresh longer.

So now that you've made the amazing discovery that all of these things are indeed edible, go out and grab some, if you know what they are. ALWAYS be sure of identification before eating. If you're unsure about the weeds you're pulling from your garden or yard, check with someone who can identify the plant for you. Better yet, hop on over to the farm and we can teach you what it is you're looking for. We've got TONS of amaranth that you can come out and pick for free that we can send you home with as well. You've got it right: Free U-Pick Amaranth.

If that doesn't persuade you, we've got some adorable baby animals on the farm right now. Graham, one of our interns, is doing a research project with baby bunnies that just arrived at the farm this week. We also got our second flock of broiler chickens in. Nothing like hundreds of peeping fluffballs (two hundred to be exact) to brighten up your day! If you're interested in coming out to the farm to help us pick amaranth or help with any of our other farm jobs, you can contact us at the email listed in our info section on the right hand side of the page!

You could meet this little guy!

Or these cuties and 170 of their closest friends!

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