Like many who research wild foods, I have read in some sources or heard through the “grapevine” that some wild peas are poisonous so I have stayed away from them until recently. Then I took a hike up into one of my favorite spots in the high Uintas and noticed some of these beautiful plants and I wanted to try them. I had recently researched and found reports of them being edible and in fact had a couple books with me that indicated that this particular plant was edible.
Now if only I could teach you how I use my intuition to decide about some of this. Unfortunately, I feel that most would scream loudly at the idea, so I’ll keep that to myself but let’s just say that this plant turns out to be very much edible and was in fact quite tasty.
The concern about this wild edible comes from the disease named Lathyrism based on the name of the plant. This disease is rare in those that it does effect and has only been seen when the peas are used as the majority of the diet. If you eat them as less than 30% of your total diet (long term) then you are OK. So, here is a little exercise for you, draw a picture (or think of it in your mind) of a plate. Now divide that plate in 3 equal parts. In this picture, fill one third of that plate with these wild peas and ONLY the other two parts of the plate with other food. If you have even that many of these wild peas consistently for weeks or months at a time, you are OK and very unlikely to develop this disease. So, the moral of the story, is don’t eat 1 thing as 100% of your diet. It’s not what our bodies were meant to do.
Here are some resources to back me up on this one: