Treasures In Our Backyard
When we think about Quebec/Canadian food, everyone immediately talks about poutine, beavertails, maple syrup, and ketchup chips of course. While these are definitely some household favorites, no one ever seems to think of what is growing in their own backyard as being part of those Canadian culinary delicacies. There is an abundance of wild edible roots, shoots, and berries in Canada. But why don’t we?...
It’s pretty simple actually. Our ancestors took full advantage of the diverse flora but as society evolved and industrialized, grocery stores made providing for one’s family much easier. With time, foraging even became a sign of poverty. Today, this view seems to be slowly changing. Consuming more natural, sustainable, and organic products has become a sign of wealth. While this is a fantastic shift in societal belief, it can be challenging for those who want to consume a more sustainable diet but cannot afford the high prices that often come with it. (Boucher, 2016; Semenal, 2020)
Fortunately, there are more than 350 different species of wild plants around the great North that you can fully take advantage of. (Johnston, 2011) It’s likely you’ve encountered at least one of the plants in your own yard!
Here is a small list of what you could start foraging. These can often be added to soups, salads, wraps, etc. There is just one important rule to follow: never pick a plant you are not 100% certain you know what it is! (Boucher, 2016)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
Chicory (Cichorium Intybus)
Packed with prebiotic fiber
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
Full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
Wild Mint (Mentha app.)
Can help with cold symptoms
Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum)
Contains a variety of phytochemicals
(Northern Bushcra, n.d.)
These are just a few examples of what grows in our region! For more information on how to start foraging safely and consciously, there are luckily tons of resources online. An excellent cross-reference for both edible and medicinal uses of common wild plants can be found at Plants For A Future (www.pfaf.org). Let food be thy medicine as they say!
Happy trails everyone ;)
Boucher, T. (2016). Starting a wild foods business: Farmer discovers that edible weeds complement his cultivated crops. Small Farm Canada. Retrieved from https://www.smallfarmcanada.ca/gardens-crops/starting-a-wild-foods-business-farmer-discovers-that-edible-/
Johnston, N. (2011). 15 wild plants you can eat. Outdoor Canada. Retrieved from https://www.outdoorcanada.ca/15-wild-plants-you-can-eat/
Northern Bushcra. (n.d.). Wild Edible Plants of Quebec. Retrieved from (https://northernbushcraft.com/guide.php?ctgy=edible_plants®ion=qc
Semenal, S. (2020). Wild edibles: Chefs forage in the country and the city for hundreds of delicious plants and berries. Montreal Gazette. Retrieved from https://montrealgazette.com/life/food/wild-edibles-chefs-forage-in-the-country-and-the-city-for-hundreds-of-delicious-plants-and-berries