Here, Ingrid Button, 31, tells the story in her own words.
T￼ucking into the tasty salad for dinner, I asked my partner Michael, 35, what he thought.
‘It’s great,’ he said. That’s when I told him my secret. ‘I picked it,’ I told him. ‘From the woods!’
At first, Michael wasn’t exactly thrilled about eating weeds for dinner. But once I explained my new-found hobby – foraging
– he came around.
A new mum to Oscar, I was keen to get out of the house. We’d moved to the country from Melbourne while I was pregnant, so I didn’t know many people.
Instead of sitting at home, I’d decided to explore.
Spotting a plant with white flowers one day, I wondered what it was.
Soon, I was curious about all the plants around me.
Using books at the library, and looking online, I found out more. It’s chickweed, I realised, seeing a picture of the plant I’d spotted. And, it was edible! In fact, it had so much vitamin C that European settlers grew it on ships to ward off scurvy. Why don’t we eat this nowadays? I wondered. It’s a waste to just call it a weed.
Amazed, I saw that stinging nettles lost their sting when they were cooked and they’re packed with nutrients. And a weed called miner’s lettuce, which has tasty leaves, had been a favourite for miners in the gold rush.
Heading out with Oscar, I took a checklist to be sure I knew what I was picking. Back home, I washed the plants and put them in a pumpkin salad.‘It’s such a shame,’ I said to Michael. ‘All this usually goes to waste.’
Excited, I explained how nettles reduce inflammation, elderberries are good for cold and flu, and purslane, known as pigweed, is full of omega-3. ‘Stop going on about weeds!’ Michael joked one day. ‘I won’t!’ I laughed. ‘In fact, I bet people would pay to hear me talk about them.’
So I decided to spread the word. Setting up a website, I began to host workshops to share my knowledge.
I explained how many of our weeds are actually on the menu in other countries, and showed people how to safely identify edible plants. I saved money too.
Instead of buying expensive salads, I foraged for tasty leaves. I made herbal teas and baked plants into muffins and pies.
By eating weeds, and swapping what I find with other people for home-grown veg or homemade yoghurt, I’ve cut our grocery bills in half – to $100 a week. But as well as the budget boost, foraging is also fun!
Oscar, now five, gets to run outdoors every day and has a whale of time. Like a sponge, he’s absorbed it all.
‘Mummy, look at this!’ he grins, spotting something for dinner. He even knows the Latin names!
And I never have trouble getting him to eat his greens. Give it a try, you never know what may be right under your feet!
Visit Free Food Foragers on Facebook to find out more.
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