5 Reasons to Teach Your Kids Wild Edible Plants

    1. My kids started learning what to eat from the forest as soon as they could walk. At the same time, I taught them what NOT to eat.
    2. Luckily, in our yard, there was only one poisonous plant – pokeweed. You can eat pokeweed only if you boil the shoots in 3 changes of water, which we would do in the spring. I told my kids not to eat the pokeberries – they were yucky. I also took out my field guide, pointed to mushrooms, and mimicked being unable to breathe and falling over dead to get my point across to stay away from all mushrooms. I told them not to touch mushrooms either. I was cautious and kept my eye on them, but not overly paranoid.
    3. The surprising thing was, they never made a mistake! They would always ask me if they weren’t sure if they could eat a plant I hadn’t taught them. My older daughter then helped teach and watch my younger one!
    4. Why did I teach them what could be eaten outside so young, you may ask? Wasn’t I afraid they’d eat the wrong plant? Well, here are the 5 perks to teaching toddlers wild edible plants that made it worth the inherent risks to me:
          1. It Encourages Kids to Eat Their Veggies

      All toddlers will have food riots from time to time. If my kids are rebelling against their veggies, all I have to do is get them back outside, eating delicious wild greens such as greenbrier, sassafras, violets (in photo above), shepherd’s purse, or sheep sorrel. Most of these veggies are available year yard in our yards and particularly palatable to young kids as well as grown-ups.

          1. It’s Free!    

      Gardening takes work. Buying organic greens also takes time and money. Wild edible plants, on the other hand, often can be eaten raw on the spot, or simply washed and eaten in a salad.

          1. It Motivates More Outside Time

      Kids love running around, gathering plants. It’s something humans are wired to do as a carry-over from our ancestors. Putting a handful of wild greens or flowers in their mouths to eat just makes sense to kids – much more fun than trying to force them to sit and eat a salad at a table.

          1. It’s Easy!

      Buying, washing, cooking, or munching on a salad takes time. Why not forage outside while you’re on a walk, playing, or reading a book outside?

          1. A Varied Diet is a Healthy Diet

      Hunter-gatherer diets used to be incredibly varied with hundreds of plants eaten each year. Although hunter-gatherer people had to experience many hardships, such as war, weather pattern changes, and disease, most agree their diet was healthier and studies suggest they had fewer rates of colds and allergies, were physically stronger and faster and had better vision. Striving to move closer (although, without the hardships) to a natural, human diet and lifestyle is better for everyone and grows stronger kids!

       

    5. Obviously, you might be wondering HOW you can teach them wild edible plants when you don’t know them yourself! Well, please check out my free guide to wild edible plants in Central Virginia or attend my next Wild Edible Plant Course in Forest Hill Park in Richmond, Virginia. 

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