Southeast, NY

This Mom Saves Money on Groceries By Finding Edible Plants Near Her Home


Wild edibles add variety to your diet and take nothing out of your wallet.
Identifying wild plants for foodPhoto byphotoAC on Pixabay

Mom Donna Michaels lives in the small town of Southeast, New York with her husband and two daughters who remain at home, one in college and one a senior in high school. Like most mothers, she looks for ways to save money on her groceries.

Donna has discovered that wild edibles on her property fit right into her budget. There are a variety of wild berries that grow in her yard, and she finds them with the help of a plant-identification app.*

"I cleaned the raspberries, wineberries, and blackberries and stored them in my freezer for future use," she says. "I also make my own jelly. It's an easy task...

Finding wild edibles is called foraging. Donna goes on to share an exciting find:

"As an experiment, we let some grass grow freely just to see what we have in our yard that we didn't know about. It turns out we had wild garlic, which was amazing. I chopped it up and have it ready to use."

Another mom says she was inspired to begin foraging when she moved to a new neighborhood, but admits nearby neighbors also like to forage and share what they find. She says her family saves hundreds every year by foraging. She enjoys collecting edible plants while bike riding in the countryside with her family. Some of the plants she's found?

...nettles, dandelions, sloe berries, hawthorn berries, wild garlic, elderflower...‘We just go out on our bikes and enjoy the countryside and it’s things we notice’. 

Scientists estimate there are over 400,000 species of plants on earth, and at least half of those are edible. Yet, humans eat from about 200 species only, and 3 of those (wheat, rice and maize) make up most of the normal human vegetable intake. This is primarily due to convenience and availability, so foraging provides variety to a family's diet as well as being a great family activity.

Wild plants contain vitamins and minerals as well as being full of unique flavors. Scientists have put forth hypotheses about why so few species are consumed, but their suggestions do not cover all 400,000 species. As the cost of food continues to rise, more people may find it's worth branching out to try new wild edibles.

For those wishing to learn plant identification, Udemy has a course in wild edibles, and many University Extension Centers offer seasonal courses on a local level for beginners.

*Do not forage without a mentor or guide. If ever in doubt about how edible a plant may be, do not consume it.

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Disclaimer: This article is only for educational and informational purposes.

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Judy Derby has worked in the surrounding communities as a social worker and advocate. providing resources and information to help local families meet their basic needs. She's been writing about social issues and related topics for over 10 years.

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