Wild Harvest

By Rowan McMullen Cheng on August 16, 2019 in Blog

Leaf through fresh forest litter to uncover a different kind of crop. From hazelnuts to morel mushrooms, you can forage for a variety of delicious, healthy and regionally historic foods in Iowa year-round.

Discover young stinging nettles, golden chanterelle mushrooms, purslane, lamb’s quarters and winter cress. Each plant produces a unique flavor to lead you down a path of new culinary opportunities.

Take note of the time of year to ensure your food is ripe enough to consume. It’s also a good idea to look for edible plants in the off-season - sometimes the plant will reveal itself after the edible season with showy flowers or a distinct smell. Also remember to check your environment before consuming raw foods. Plants near large farm fields, roads and even treated lawns may contain chemicals.

“Edible plants are a great place to begin seeing the integral value of our landscape,” said Drake University Professor of Biology Dr. Nanci Ross. “When looking for edibles, you can’t help but begin to notice the shape of the flowers, the timing of ripening fruits, the other species growing and living in the same areas. It’s a great way to see how we are part of our landscape.”

With groups like Edible Outdoors, Prairie States Mushroom Club, the annual Wild Food Summit and the Midwest Wild Edibles and Foragers Society, you can easily find a community of support and shared knowledge to start your foraging season, allowing you to see new places in Iowa without sacrificing your dinner schedule.

Please note: If your foraged food smells like fresh almonds, it may have toxic cyanide init and should not be consumed.