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Would you eat a weed growing on the sidewalk? That’s what Mark Bittman did recently while on a tour of Oakland with two U.C. Berkeley urban foragers.
Phil Stark and Tom Carlson want to boost awareness about the nutritional and local value of edible weeds in underserved populations. Their work includes testing the soil and developing a website that lets the public find, identify and share where to forage these plants.
So what do they find? They pluck greens right off the lawns of houses, just feet away from empty paint cans and abandoned bicycle wheels.
“There’s a lot of resistance to the idea of picking your food out of the ground. There’s a stigmatism associated to it. And so people’s response is ‘Ick a dog might have peed on it… And a dog might have peed on it, but I can wash that off,” Stark said.
Bittman also goes to Petaluma where Mark meets Bob Cannard, a trailblazing farmer who teaches students who are aspiring farmers and gardeners how to cultivate weeds to build good soil, and shares his bounty regularly with restaurants like Chez Panisse in Berkeley.