Foraging Guidelines


Get back to your primitive roots--learn how to forage safely and sustainably.

Amaranth or pigweed plant

Mention "pigweed" in a south Georgia feed and seed and you're liable to hear a slew of words unfit for Sunday service. Pigweed has few friends in south Georgia or any of the farming communities that have been stricken by its glyphosate-resistant tenacity.

But mention "amaranth" in an Asheville co-op and you'll likely get an earful of evangalism for one of the oldest intentionally cultivated food crops that we know of.

And yet, they're the same plant.

Hairy bittercress basal rosette

Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) is a really unfortunate name for a wonderfully tasty edible weed. Bittercress is a mustard, so its bitterness is more spicy-hot than bitter, though it’s not nearly as hot as some other members of the Brassicaceae family.

The “hairy” in its name is derived from the tiny “hairs” on its leaves and stems. The hairs are more noticeable on young bittercress, but you still have to look pretty hard, like with a loupe or magnifying glass, to see them. A more appropriate name would be Not-so-hairy and pleasantly-mild spicycress.

Buck and doe grazing

Ever wanted to learn how to hunt deer but have no experience and really don't know where to look? Here's everything you need to know to get started.

Pawpaws hanging from branch

The wild pawpaw. Asimina triloba. Largest North American fruit. One with as many aliases as Billy the Kid — Bandango, Indiana Banana, Poor Man’s Banana, or simply Paw Paw.

An indescribable cross between banana, mango, pineapple, and whatever fruitarian delicacy you might not be able to imagine. The thing forager dreams are made of. My nemesis.

Pine needle tea

Pine needles purportedly have three to five times more vitamin C than an orange, depending on what source you read.

Regardless of the exact vitamin C content, we know that pine needle tea has enough to treat scurvy.

Chickweed, Stellaria Media

The term "chickweed" most notably describes Common Chickweed (Stellaria media), although there are several other chickweeds, all in the genus Stellaria

Common Chickweed is a cool weather plant native to Europe that has widely naturalized in the United States and throughout the world. It’s often found in lawns and other areas of shady, moist soil.

Depending on climate, chickweed normally appears during the cooler temperatures of fall and dies back in the late spring or early summer heat. It thrives between 53° and 68°F.

Pickerel Weed

Learning about edible wild plants has allowed me to see the natural world from different, unique perspective. I love meeting new plants and I've always held a deep appreciation for their beauty, but the context of "usefulness" makes them so much more fascinating. It's exciting for me to discover that a plant I've known for years -- Devil's walkingstick for instance -- happens to be edible. It's like getting a more intimate glimpse of an old friend.

Redbud flowers

Foraging edible wildflowers is probably one of the more fun aspects of eating wild food and it's a great introduction, especially for kids. Flowers are a lot easier to see than wild greens so foraging them can be a simpler task. Some are sweet, some spicy, and some almost tasteless, but wild edible flowers are perfect for adding color to salads and other foods.