Dandelions, possibly the best known weed, grows prolifically around the country, including in Wisconsin. The dandelion is fully edible, but the young leaves are most commonly eaten in salads. Leaves that are harvested after blooming may be slightly tough and bitter so they are better cooked in a stir fry or wilted. Dandelion leaves contain iron and vitamins A and C.
A weed is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a plant that is not valued where it growing..." They are invasive and considered by many to be a nuisance. Surprisingly, many of these are a free source of delicious food for your family. Wisconsin is home to many edible garden weeds that you can add to your meals for a healthy dose of vegetables.
This prolific plant belongs to the same family as spinach. It can be used in salads, soups or more. It contains a wealth of nutritional properties including antioxidants, Omega 3 fatty acids, beta carotene and vitamins A and E. Raw, it has a slightly sour taste and is an excellent addition to a spinach salad.
This common Midwest weed is another plant that can be used in place of spinach or included with it. It may have been grown as an agricultural crop in the past. The young leaves are edible, but discard older leaves and stems. The seeds are sometimes cooked as a cereal.
According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, burdock may have potential in treating skin problems and diabetic nephropathy. It has been reported to treat a number of other disorders as well including cancer, though no clinical studies have been done to confirm those claims. The root can be scrubbed and cooked or made into tea. The leaves may be harvested and cooked before the plant flowers.
Though weeds are generally wild and found nearly anywhere, only weeds from your own yard should ever be harvested for consummation. Only in your own yard can you know what kind of chemicals the plants have been exposed to. Be sure to correctly identify any plant used in the kitchen. Use organic practices in any area where you intend to eat the plants.
- Good Oak Ecological Services: Native Plants for Edible Landscaping
- Organic Nature News: Edible Weeds
- Washington State University; Edible Weeds; Bobbi Gustafson and Corrina Marote
- Merriam-Webster: Weed definition
- USDA; Weeds of Wisconsin; R. Hoffman and K. Kearns
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: About Herbs: Burdock
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images
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