Foraging Safely

How to Forage Safely. If I don’t have a field guide with me, how can I tell if a plant is safe to eat? Plan B is a song and dance we call the Universal Edibility Test. If you’re an impatient eater, beware: this is not a quick process. First rule out known baddies like poison ivy, then wildcards like mushrooms, many of which can kill you in just one bite. If there’s still no reaction, ingest a small piece and wait eight hours. Feel good after eight more hours? Can I achieve the same effect using sunlight? - Shelby Terraza, via email All UV rays destroy pathogen DNA, but unlike an easy-to-use Steripen, sunlight takes some coaxing. A new PET water or soda bottle works best.
wild raspberry
kkmarais

If I don’t have a field guide with me, how can I tell if a plant is safe to eat?

– Caleb Gordon, via email

Plan A: Stick with what you know. Odds are, you’re familiar with yard plants—clover, dandelions, and chickweed—and other common edibles.

Plan B is a song and dance we call the Universal Edibility Test. If you’re an impatient eater, beware: this is not a quick process.

First rule out known baddies like poison ivy, then wildcards like mushrooms, many of which can kill you in just one bite. About 95 percent of all other plants are at least partially edible, according to North Carolina foraging instructor and author Alan Muskat. Even so, don’t go munching willy-nilly without expert supervision unless you’re really starving.

Divide a plant into leaves, stems,…

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