What is it about wild edible plants that draws us in, grabs us by the nape of the soul? Plants are a doorway to wellbeing. The art of foraging, of gathering wild plants requires a slow, attentive and grounded presence in the moment.
Foraging is a dialogue between forager and plant, encouraging a relational way of being in the world. This act, this dynamic process is soul food of a kind.
Perhaps we nibble as we gather strolling past springing hedgerow greens. Perhaps we gather to take home to prepare deliciously curious wild dishes. However we eat our foraged fare we are loading up with a serious dose of vitamins, minerals and protein.
Have you seen the news about how much fruit and veg we’re now being advised to eat? 10 portions daily to cut our chances of developing serious health conditions and to live longer. That’s a tough ask for most people, practically and financially.
Why not turn to wild edible alternatives? We’re literally surrounded by wild superfoods. And what’s extra super about them is how super common they are. Let’s get at the humble Stinging Nettle.
Nettle is packed full of vitamins and minerals with a whopping 400mg potassium per 100g weight and an overall mineral content of 1250 mg per 100g weight*. For comparison spinach has an overall mineral content of 900mg and broccoli has 450mg per 100g weight*. Nettle also has more than 4 times as much calcium as spinach and broccoli*; calcium is essential to help to build and maintain healthy bones and teeth. Nettles are also packed full of Magnesium, Vitamin C, Beta Carotene, Vitamin A, Iron and high quality protein.
Spinach also contains much higher quantities of Oxalic acid** compared to nettles, which binds with iron (along with calcium, magnesium and potassium) decreasing the absorption of these nutrients***, and can be harmful to folk with kidney problems.
What does this all mean? Well, in short nettles have a much higher nutritional content than spinach & broccoli, so you get more nutrition with less plant weight – you’ll be fuller with less and well on your way to a wild contribution to your supercharged 5 or 10 a day.
Nettle stings are immediately neutralised by cooking or heating, and really very very delicious sautéed with a little butter or oil.
You might be able to tell, I have a love affair with nettles, and I can't recommend enough for you to make their aquaintence.
Nettles are freely available, and this is the perfect time to gather the top new growth (this allows the plants to continue growing and is the yummiest part)
If you’re still on the fence, check out some great Nettle recipes at www.eatweeds.co.uk and come for a wild food walk to learn much much more. Click here for wild food walk dates
Happy gathering, foragers.
*Nutrition USDA National Nutrient Database http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl
**Spinach contains 750 milligrams Oxalic acid per 100g weight