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Edible Weeds

If you’ve ever grown a garden (or have been to one of our volunteer days) you may be well acquainted with what are known as weeds. But really, the plants we call weeds often serve many purposes. The cultivated crops aren’t the only ones in our garden beds that can feed us. The many weeds that grow in between can pack a real nutritional and medicinal punch. So the next time you see new weeds in your freshly weeded garden, you may want to look them up to see if they provide other benefits, like the three I wanted to mention today.

1. Lamb’s Quarters: These guys pop up everywhere. They follow human habitation quite closely and thrive on freshly disturbed soil used for cultivation. Lamb’s quarters is also called “wild spinach” and can actually outcompete domestic spinach in vitamin and mineral content. It has higher iron, calcium, zinc and potassium content than spinach, while also being a great source of the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. Keep in mind though that lamb’s quarters does contain higher levels of oxalates. But that’s less likely to be of great concern due to the high calcium content of this wild green. Calcium binds to oxalic acid, causing it to be non-absorbable. Lamb’s quarters’ leaves are diamond-shaped with a coarsely toothed edge and tend to bear a grayish powdery coating with spots of fuchsia on their undersides, especially at the leaf joint. As a “wild spinach,” lamb’s quarters can be substituted into any recipe that calls for spinach or Swiss chard - soups, omelets, lasagna, pesto, etc.