Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Urban Forager

A few weeks ago, one of my friends from the Master Composter group - a pack of loving dirtbags, if ever there was one - invited me over to her place for some "urban foraging." Now, this was no ordinary social call, this was an opportunity NOT to be missed.

My friend is Kate Armstrong, known 'round these parts as The Urban Forager and keeper of infinite knowledge on all plant life. (Our local NPR station recently did a story on her which you can listen to here.) Kate is one of those women that is a sheer force of nature with a multitude of identities and past lives to pull from. Mother of five grown children and grandmother to several, she is tenacious, funny and passionate about healthy food. I'd like to be Kate when I grow up.

 When I arrived at Kate's house, another fellow composter was there too, Nina Faust, a lean, gorgeous blonde who runs her own catering company. For the next couple of hours, we all discussed edible weeds, organic gardening, the evils of GMOs and the proven benefits of talking encourgingly to one's plants. (Vindicated at last!) But mostly, we trolled the alley ways and sidewalk cracks of Denver in search of our lunch as Kate educated us along the way. 

This is sorrel, I believe.
We certainly didn't have to go very far to find yummy edibles forcing their way up through the concrete. Kate showed us the difference between sorrel, dock, marrow and dandelion. She explained how to tell where evil pesticides had already been sprayed - a circle of brown death.

At some point, a friendly grey alley cat joined us as we worked our way around Kate's neighborhood. When Nina asked, with some concern, "What about dog and cat pee?"

Kate just shrugged, "You're going to wash everything anyway, besides it is still less harmful than all the pesticides from produce at the store." Too true.

Then, we went back to Kate's and made a gorgeous yummy salad from our green bounty, mixed in with some garden lettuce, tomatoes and parmesan too. It was unbelievably delicious - it tasted so clean, so pure and like nothing I'd ever eaten before.

Made me think about all these people going hungry, resorting to junk food and dealing with a multitude of health problems, when the best stuff is right under our feet, for free.


Maria C said...

Did you eat the dandelion greens in the salad? I've always loved the idea of eating them but have never been able to get past their extreme bitterness

ClizBiz said...

Yup, the dandelion greens are amazing. Best to be mixed in with others. Also, we'd been warned that the pureness of these greens would have a 'flushing' affect on our digestive systems.

Boy, she wasn't kidding.