Is rent taking up all the money that you’d set aside for groceries? Some large cities across the United States are embracing urban foraging as a means of finding free sustenance in unlikely places. Nature lovers are even offering tours to show public park-goers where they can find edible, wild plants in the city.

For health reasons, please make sure to consult a professional before consuming any plants from an open, public place; forage at your own risk.

WHAT IS URBAN FORAGING?

“Foraging is a simple way of gathering your own food, whether it’s mushrooms or plants that are edible, and urban foraging is just doing that in a center like New York City,” Ava Chin, author of “Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal,” told The Wall Street Journal.

Urban foragers search out public places — like parks, sidewalks, alleys, and college campuses — to find naturally-grown vegetables and edible plants for their meals.

IS IT LEGAL?

Well, sort of. It depends on local jurisdiction.

For example, according to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, it is against the rules to “mutilate, kill or remove” vegetation. Violators are subject to fines of $250 for each infraction.

WHICH PLANTS SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR?

  1. Garlic mustard, which has horseradish-flavored leaves, is nutritious and can be a great way to add flavor to a salad, according to NYC’s “Wildman” Steve Brill. The plant can be identified by its unique smell, small white flowers, and wide, grainy leaves.

  2. Wild blackberries typically grow in thickets within parks, not on trees on the street like Mulberries. Many city dwellers love to make fresh blackberry jam after foraging for these berries.

  3. Ramps are in-demand leaves and bulbs, also called wild leeks, and have a powerful, onion-like flavor. According to Brill, people should only pick a small fraction of ramp leaves because they’re frequently overpicked.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Want more information on urban foraging or a bring-along visual guide? Check the app store on your phone or tablet, or your local bookstore.

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