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Edible Wild Plants in Utah, Wild Grasses

I have been foraging and learning about wild edibles for several years now and focusing on the plants available to me in the Utah desert primarily simply because that is where I live and I enjoy finding edibility in an apparent hostile environment. While out looking for the wild edibles I have learned how to step carefully to avoid getting my socks full of those prickly irritating pieces of grass. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. The grasses get dry and then you end up with all the sharp seeds in your socks as you walk through them. What I wasn’t thinking about for the longest time is the edibility of these annoying seeds. All grass seed is edible and it is abundant in the west utah desert. There are many varieties and some are easier than others to collect mostly because of the size of the seed.


Identification

One of the hardest parts of learning about wild edibles is identification of the plants. many think that it is dangerous to forage wild edibles. I think this is a silly idea that comes from our cultivated civilization. We are so disconnected from nature we don’t even know where our food comes from. I certainly agree that you should not just go out and start eating any plat you find in the wild without proper identification but I think we should definitely work to learn all we can about those plants that grow in our area and work to add them to our diet. With some, identification takes a lot of research and time. I think the time is worth spending personally and can be very helpful but with grasses identification is not as big a worry. At least you know you are not going to poison yourself by eating the seeds you find, that is as long as they are far enough away from mans chemicals that we seem to think we can’t live without. If it is a grass and it has seeds you can harvest you can eat it.


Preparation

the next thing we need to understand then is preparation. This again is a lost art to many. Even when we eat grains as part of our diet we generally buy it all cleaned and sterilized and we are not involved with the process of taking it from plant to table. So here are some ideas of ways to eat grass seed.

Boil or steam it like rice and serve as a side dish.

Toast it like Quinoa and then use it in bread, boil it or make a flour

Grind it and eat it like breakfast cereal such as cracked wheat

There are hundreds of different grasses available to us and seeds are the most important part of our diet so the grasses we see as we are foraging should not be ignored but rather we should find a way to make them part of our diet. Come see some that I have identified and found in my area at www.WildUtahEdibles.com/


Jointed goatgrass

According to Wikipedia out of the edible plants available to man the most important part of the plant is the seeds followed by the roots. As we are out foraging this is an important part of the plant that we need to pay attention to. If the seeds are so valuable for us then this is a huge resource we need to recognize while we are out foraging.


Seeds can be eaten in different ways too. The most common ways we eat seeds are as cereals and bread. By cereals I don’t mean cheerios and other similar processed foods. I’m talking about the way we originally ate cereals before we started ruining all our grains. Think 6 grain cereal mix, oatmeal, grits and cracked wheat. That is what I am talking about when I mention cereals. Incidentally, rice also falls into this category. Many grass seeds if not all can be eaten after being boiled like you would with rice.


The other way we eat cereals or grass grains is as flour. We dry and grind these seeds into flour and then mix them to make bread. This has also been done since the beginning of man.