Yellow Bird: Be careful shopping in the wild

"Does a bowl full of wild lamb's quarter leaves and milkweed blooms with a dribbling of dressing sound good? How about pancakes made from cattail pollen? Do the mental pictures make your mouth water?

Probably not, but here are some reasons why these plants could become favorites for you. First, let me say that my understanding of the "prairie and woodland pantries" has grown considerably since my early years in western North Dakota. When I was young, we ate many things from the prairie because we were far away from the grocery store and knew what was available in the wild.

Back then, I picked lamb's quarter or a similar plant called pig weed with my grandmother. I remember her pointing out what to pick and helping her fill a bowl. She added salt pork (which everybody in the neighborhood had available) to these greens, and it was quite good.

Later, I found out from some of my friends at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks that lamb's quarter plants are very nutritious. Who knew we were eating something healthy back then?

At the Sullys Hill Birding Festival near Devils Lake a few weeks ago, I attended a session about eating wild plants. Patsy Crooke, natural resources specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Bismarck, presented the session.

It was there that I sampled the pancakes she'd made from cattail pollen. They were excellent and had a drizzle of chokecherry syrup on top. You also can make muffins, pound cake, cattail pollen bread and several other items with cattail pollen. The pollen isn't easy to gather, Crooke suggested. But it's certainly worth trying."

Get the Story:
COLUMNIST DORREEN YELLOW BIRD: 'Shop' for wild foods carefully (The Grand Forks Herald 7/7)

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