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Foraging for Food in Colorado Springs

Carrie Rasak

Posted on May 26, 2019 00:40

3 users

The Bear Creek Nature Center in Colorado Springs has a variety of summer educational programs, including a two hour wild food foraging class. I attended and it was absolutely fascinating.

Bear Creek Park is a large park on the west side of Colorado Springs, comprised of a huge dog park that I frequent, the Nature Center, archery range, and various walking trails, picnic areas, and playgrounds. It's a great spot to spend an afternoon. 

It turns out the Nature Center has tons of interesting summer programs, one of which was a wild food foraging class led by the Wild Food Girl. So I spent my Saturday morning at the Nature Center learning about edible plants to forage and how to do so sustainably. 

Class began inside the visitor's center, where we sat in a circle and discussed our previous experience with edible herbs and flowers. Most of us were new to the foraging idea but eager to learn. After going over general safety precautions, we were off to explore.

First, we learned what not to eat, namely poison hemlock, which is similar in appearance to Queen Anne's Lace. Our guide explained how the leaves were different and how it grew taller than Queen Anne's Lace which is a generally more low lying plant.

Then we dove into the edibles (no, not those edibles). First up was dock, part of the buckwheat family. It has a slightly lemony flavor to it raw, and it was delicious sauteed in olive oil.

We also discovered tumble mustard, which had a pungent taste you would expect from a mustard green.

Then there was salsify - the buds and roots are edible, and tasty boiled, but it's best before they flower.

 

Then, we picked lamb's quarter, which is similar to spinach, and dandelion flowers, which provided a nice sweet taste. As we harvested, our guide explained how the leaves formed, their taste, when the ideal picking time was, how to pick the good ones, and how she prepared them.

Every plant we foraged is an invasive species and some are considered "noxious weeds" by the state of Colorado. This makes it acceptable to forage them...especially on private land if you are the owner / you have their permission. You won't be harming the ecosystem by foraging the plants, and in fact, in some cases picking part of the plant can encourage more growth. She said, if she was on public land, she would generally call ahead and ask for permission, but it was usually best to stick with private land you owned, or a friend's property.

After we foraged, we moved to a covered picnic area where she had a camp stove set up and we washed, chopped, and cooked the herbs. Everyone got to try a bit and they were delicious! I would absolutely put lamb's quarters in a salad, or dock on a white pizza or in pasta. She mentioned using them for pesto and making other sauces and salads out of them. You can really get creative with your preparations.

I love the concept of eating wild herbs and knowing what to avoid as well, so I'm very glad I attended the class!

Carrie Rasak

Posted on May 26, 2019 00:40

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Source: HuffPost

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