Urban foragers feast on sidewalk salads

Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:51pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Lisa Shumaker

CHICAGO (Reuters Life!) - Armed with pruning shears and a paper bag, Nance Klehm walks along a Chicago sidewalk, pointing out plants and weeds that can make a tasty salad or stir-fry.

She snips stalks from a weed with downy leaves and white powder commonly called goosefoot or lamb's quarters.

"I collect a lot of this," said Klehm, 43. "It's indistinguishable from spinach when you cook it. I never, never grow spinach or other greens except kale. Everything else I forage."

Klehm is among a small group of urban foragers across the United States who collect weeds and plants from city streets and gardens to use in meals and medicines. Some are survivalists while others are environmentalists or even gourmands seeking new flavors for cooking.

Klehm leads small groups of about 20 people a few times a year on urban forages in Chicago. In New York, Steve Brill's walks in Central Park attract 50 or more people every weekend.

"People have a lot of different reasons," said Brill, who wrote a book on edible plants and posts information on foraging at www.wildmanstevebrill.com.

"They're freegans, vegans, foodies, environmentalists," he said. "It's definitely more middle class than working class."


<p>Stacy Peterson (C) takes a swig from a jar of freshly brewed tea with mint and mullein, while her sister Lisa Peterson (R) watches at a community garden in Chicago July 12, 2009. REUTERS/Lisa Shumaker</p>