Wild Spinach


Lamb's Quarters (Chenopodium album), also called "pigweed" is one of my favorite wild foods! We used to harvest Lamb's Quarters both as a green for salads (mixed with chickweed) and to put on pizzas! It grows everywhere - generally on waste land (it's the kind of weed that you likely pull out of your garden!). The reason it grows on "wasteland" is that it helps to restore minerals to the soil. Rich in magnesium and potassium, it also has more vitamin A & C, calcium, riboflavin and zinc than domestic spinach. Domestic spinach, however, is higher in folic acid and iron. American Indians used a tea from this plant to treat stomach aches and scurvy. All parts of the plant can be used. The leaves can be used just as you would use domestic spinach - eaten raw, as a topping on pizza, in smoothies or juices, or steamed or boiled. Like spinach, Lamb's quarters does contain oxalic acid. Cooking the leaves destroys the acid. Leaves are best when young. They may appear to have a whitish powdery coating (which is harmless) as they mature. According to Peterson's Field Guides, "Edible Wild Plants", the highly nutritious seeds of Lamb's quarters can also be ground into a flour or boiled to make a breakfast gruel. However, seeds are also high in saponins and should not be consumed in excess. Check out this garlicky greens recipe from traditionalroots.org: http://traditionalroots.org/backyard-medicine-eating-wild-spinach/ *Please note that if you live in the southern U.S., South or Central America, do not confuse this plant with Chenopodium abrosioides, or Mexican tea. Mexican tea is used medicinally - mainly to treat parasitic worms like tapeworm, but the leaves of this plant are covered with oil glands and smell of varnish or turpentine. The essential oil from this plant can be toxic and even lethal in large doses. It is not edible, but only has medicinal value and should not be taken unless under supervision of a doctor or trained herbalist. More about Mexican tea here: http://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/2011/mccarthy_mega/Medicinal_uses.htm

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