From Organice Gardening Magazine
One person’s weed-filled lawn is another person’s salad bar!
If you think everything in your yard that isn’t grass must be a nuisance, you’re missing out—on a free lunch. Those pesky weeds invading your lush green patch of paradise are actually valuable foods, loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and protein, sometimes even more nutritious than what you’ll find at the grocery store. Things like dandelions and clovers are starting to make their way into American lawns, and if you pick them early, you’ll get an incredibly sweet, nutritious addition to your next meal.
Just remember to ID them with a credible source if you’re not plant-savvy—there’s even an app for that! If you’ve got a smart phone, download the Wild Edibles app created by Steve Brill, a botanist known for giving edible-plant tours of New York City’s Central Park. Also, wash your harvest thoroughly before consuming, and steer clear of areas that may have been treated with chemicals or pesticides.
Perhaps the most familiar lawn weed of them all, the dandelion may also be the weed that’s most known to be edible. In fact, the reason it exists in the U.S. is that European settlers introduced it as a salad green. They have a slightly bitter taste when they mature, so harvest the tender leaves that appear in early spring and in late fall, when they’re sweetest. The flowers are edible too and have a mildly bittersweet flavor. And eat them up! Dandelions have more beta-carotene than carrots
This familiar plant, made into everything from floorboards to pajamas, is actually a type of grass.Bamboo shoots are full of fiber, and are sometimes described as tasting like corn. Should any pop up in your vicinity, harvest shoots that are less than two weeks old and under 1 foot tall. Bamboo shoots have to be cooked before you eat them. Click here for instructions on how to prepare them.
This weed might be harder to find if you don’t live in the Northeast or Midwest, where invasive populations have taken root. But if you do see some, harvest the green and red shoots when the weeds are 6 to 8 inches tall, before they turn woody. Remove any tough leaves or rind and steam or simmer for a tart, rhubarb-like taste.
You can pay $3 for a bunch of watercress—an antioxidant powerhouse—at your local grocery store…or you can find a stream and stock up for free. An increasingly popular ingredient in gourmet salads, many people don’t realize that watercress is actually a weed. It grows alongside streams and riverbanks in nearly every U.S. state. The most popular way to eat watercress is to add it to salads raw.
Another weed you’ll see all over the U.S., red clover has been used for ages as a folk remedy for cancer. If you have some growing in your yard, an occasional meal of red clover flowers sprinkled over rice or cooked in soy sauce is a good way to clean up your yard. In addition to being potential cancer-fighters, clover flowers are high in protein. You can also eat white clover, but it’s not as nutritious or flavorful as red.
Source: Organic Gardening Magazine