The Tricky Business of Eating Found Foods
Nasturtiums are lovely, easy to grow and delicious on a salad — but don’t eat them unless you’re certain they are nasturtiums and not a toxic twin. Photo courtesy University of Connecticut​

The Tricky Business of Eating Found Foods

In spring 2020, as COVID-19 was sending city folks up here full-time to live in the country, The Lakeville Journal published its annual short article talking about the delights of finding, cooking and eating the wild leeks that are also known as “ramps.” 

This did not end well. Several people unfamiliar with the dangers of eating found foods without a guide ended up with severe gastric distress that took them to the emergency room at Sharon Hospital. Our goal at this newspaper company is not ever to poison our readers. However, spring is here again and the ramps are beginning to mature on the sides of roads and under bushes in swampy parts of our region. 

We would like to strongly encourage anyone who is interested in going out to forage for found foods in the woods, which is super fun, to please find a competent guide to take you, someone who has found and cooked and eaten wild ramps many times and has never ended up in the emergency room because of it.

The same caution applies to another unconventional food that the University of Connecticut sent an email about this week. Kaelin Smith from the university’s Home & Garden Education Center writes in this week’s nature column that gardeners might want to think about edible flowers as they prepare to plant their gardens.

Three flowers Smith recommends as beautiful and as edible are calendula, nasturtiums and squash blossoms. I’ve never tasted calendula but I can vouch for the delicious delight of eating nasturtiums and squash blossoms (usually from zucchini). These plants are also fairly easy to grow in a decent-sized garden plot. 

And an advantage you have here is that, if you buy and plant a nasturtium plant, you can feel pretty confident that you are actually eating nasturtium blossoms.

Enjoy some edible flowers this summer; but make sure you know what they are. 

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