Urban Foraging: Secret Wild Food in Australia’s Cities

If you are in Australia’s big cities like Sydney, you must have heard something about food foraging. Do you know that some of the wild plants you clear as bushes could be food? Well, that’s true. Unfortunately, apart from the traditional vegetables and herbs, most people have not gone ahead to discover new edible plants in their surroundings. That is why food foraging is a big thing in most of Australia’s cities. If you are a forager or an aspiring one, then you need to learn a few things from professional forager and naturist Diego Bonetto. As a professional and experienced forager, he has discovered numerous wild plants that today feature in the menus of many prestigious restaurants across the world. In one of his recent visits to Western Sydney, he uncovered a number of wild weeds. Today, most of these plants are a delicacy and popular with diners in Australia.  

Scorned Dandelion

White dandelion While participating in the famous Crave Sydney International Food Festival, Western Sydney, Bonetto discovered several wild plants. He hosted a two-hour ‘Foraging in the City’ event along the Cooks River, which was a great success. During the walk, he pointed out several wild plants not only for their edibility and nutrient density but also for medicinal value.  One of the wild plants uncovered during this West Sydney foraging is the scorned dandelion. Not many people knew that the weed could be used as a salad. You might also be shocked to learn that scorned dandelion flowers are excellent fritters. Additionally, the wild plant roots make a excellent parsnip substitute. Older roots from this plant can be ground into a caffeine-free coffee to improve its flavour. Bonetto also mentioned that scorned dandelion makes the most amazing honey. Apart from food, the oil from this plant great for skin and lips. These are numerous benefits for a typical weed that has been growing in your backyard. Wild mustard is another wild plant that Bonetto pointed during the two-hour walk. It is a wild plant that makes a good vegetable. If you have never tried this food, it tastes like a peppery rocket. He also picked the pig face plants and mallow plants as some of the plants that can be taken as food in various forms. Most of them work great as a salad while others are excellent herbs for making various spices. In fact, if you look at some of the restaurant's menus in Sydney, you will notice that these plants either feature as vegetable or salads.  

Amaranth

Amaranth Amaranth is another common wild weed in Australia, but most of us have no idea how healthy this plant is. If you are foraging, you need to look for this plant. Amaranth is a nutrient-rich vegetable that you cook the same as spinach. It is also highly nutritious and contains numerous medicinal benefits. That is why in Central American, it is one of the powerful herbs. Do you know that amaranth has anti-inflammatory effects on your body? Well, that is one of the medicinal benefits of this wild weed. So if you are planning to forage, have it on your list. However, it is important to note that there are more than 60 different species of amaranth with a number of them in Sydney. Other edible plant species that Bonetto foraged during the two-hour event along the Cooks River include wood sorrel, nasturtium, and warrigal greens. These are all weed plants that are common in our back yard. In fact, if you look around our home compounds, roadsides and along paths, you are likely to find these weeds. But most of us treat them as weeds, yet they are highly nutritious vegetables and herbs.  

Samphire and Sea Blight

Samphire Before the forage was over, he pointed out yet another set of wild plants, samphire, and sea blight. Today, just ask how much a punnet of these vegetables cost. You will be surprised by how expensive they are in the market. Both plants have numerous nutritional and medicinal value. Samphire and sea blight are also some of the powerful herbs that can be found in West Sydney. There are just a few of the plants that were foraged in just two hours. Imagine what you can get if you forage for a day or a week? There are a lot of secrets in Australia cities that you can uncover. However, start from your back yard before you think of venturing outside your compound.  

How Can You Start Foraging?

To be an expert forager, Diego Bonetto has this advice for you. "Do a lot of research and learn more about plants.’ That is because you need to know what you are picking. You need to learn how to use botanical drawings and take good photographs to help you identify various plants. If you don’t know what you are doing, please don’t do it." Those were his closing remarks after completing the two-hour ‘Foraging in the City’ event along Cooks River.

Post Author: Enoch T. Semon

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