Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, reported that nutritious wild greens are growing abundantly in poor urban areas of San Francisco. The researchers, led by Philip Stark, foraged for edible wild greens in disadvantaged neighborhoods classified as “urban food deserts”. Six of the “weeds” were tested for nutrition content including chickweed (Stellaria media), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), dock (Rumex crispus), mallow (Malva sylvestris), nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) and oxalis (Oxalis pescaprae). Nutritionally speaking, all of these plants compare favorably to kale.
The wild greens boasted more dietary fibre, protein, vitamin A, sodium, calcium, iron and vitamin K, and provided more energy. Kale’s vitamin C content outshone the species tested, but the researchers suspect other greens such [as] wild mustard (Hirschfeldia incana) and wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum) might rival it.” – Cocmos Magazine
Researchers have documented 52 different species in San Francisco, most of which are drought tolerant. Other abundant edible weeds include cat’s ear (Hypochaeris radicata), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), plantain (Plantago lanceolate), sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus), wild lettuce (Lactuca ludoviciana) and wild onions (Allium spp).
Many of these edible weeds are available year-round. If you’re interested in free food including some that are much more nutritious than most store-bought produce start studying edible weeds in the videos below and also check out FallingFruit.org