Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nutritional nibbles from the wild

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Wood sorrel, for Vitamin C
  • Wood sorrel, for Vitamin C
Meredith Martin-Moats went on the Wild Plant Walk and Edible Foraging event on March 17 and reports on the Elevate Arkansas event, where she got lots of tips on rich-in-nutrient plants:

On a record-breaking warm day for central Arkansas, Elevate Arkansas hosted their first Wild Plant Walk and Edible Foraging Series in Allsop Park in Little Rock. Advertised as a way to locate free and healthy food in your own backyard, at least 15 adults and a few children showed up for the walk, many with notebooks and iphones in hand ready to document information about each of the plants. We began the walk by looking through a few different books Elevate had on hand. Because so many plants share similar shapes and go through a series of budding and flowering stages, our guide noted, these guidebooks are an essential resource for both the inexperienced or veteran forager.

Led by Jeff Dempsey, director of Elevate Arkansas, the walk began near a stream that cuts through the park where we identified backyard stables like clover, the flowers and leaves of which can be thrown into smoothies or salads. Like dandelion, he explained, clover is nutrient-rich and abundant, and the flowers can be dipped into a batter and made into tasty, crunchy fritters. He then pointed out what most people consider a weed, a plant called henbit, a mushroom-tasting member of the mint family, which grows profusely in most yards. Like many of the plants identified on the walk, henbit can be thrown into a smoothie for a dose of powerful anti-oxidants. As we continued our walk, Jeff pointed out the steamable green curly dock, had us sample the edible flowers of the redbud tree (a mildly sweet flavor), and called attention to the veiny leaves of plantain grass. “Get a good handful of it and blend it with fruit,” he said, and you’ll have an instant “power smoothie.”

We continued up the rocky trail into more wooded areas of the park where we nibbled on peppergrass and greenbrier, and then sampled my personal favorite, the delightfully tart wood sorrel. With flavor like a fresh raspberry and high vitamin C content, I’ll certainly be foraging for sorrel to add to smoothies and salads. Dempsey was sure to point out the best way to identify edible plants is to first ID them during their flowering season. “When in doubt,” he said, “don’t try it.”

The walk focused primarily on ways to add some free and local nutrients to your diet. The topic of survival eating also surfaced a few times. Dempsey noted that during survival situation the insides of pine bark can be ground and made into flour and, in the most dire of situations, the majority of native grasses in Arkansas are edible.

The walk was slow-paced, informative, and loaded with unexpected flavors, definably worth your time if you have an interest in whole and local food. And you don’t need to be a hiker for this event to be worth your time. The majority of the plants probably already grow somewhere in your neighborhood.

The walk was the first of several taking place throughout Little Rock in upcoming months. The walks take about an hour and admission is by donation. Be sure and wear comfortable shoes and bring a long a camera for future reference. The next walk will be 2-3 p.m. May 5. For more information visit

Tags: , , ,


Speaking of...


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • UALR joins LRU in dead acronyms file

    Chancellor Andrew Rogerson has announced to staff that UALR will be known henceforth as UA Little Rock.
    • Jan 24, 2017
  • Hey, all you gays out there! Head up to Bentonville and become hetero!

    You know, Bentonville has a lot going for it. A good museum, an art hotel, great places to eat and, yes, you can now get a drink there.But it has its right-wing magical thinkers, too. The "Word of Life Fellowship" is holding a conference, "Loved2Truth," Jan. 28 in Bentonville to help poor misguided homosexuals who want to get on the "Road to Freedom from Same Sex Attraction" with the help of pastors and "church leaders."
    • Jan 23, 2017
  • Ready your muffin tins: Soup Sunday is this weekend

    Soup Sunday, the annual jam-packed benefit for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, celebrates its 36th anniversary on Sunday, Jan. 29, with the largest number of soup venders ever (more than 40 restaurants are participating), sides and desserts, and silent and live auctions.
    • Jan 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • In defense of Planned Parenthood and abortion rights

    An op-ed in today's New York Time by Katha Pollitt says what I've been struggling to say about the reaction to the attack on women's reproductive rights launched by means of the undercover videos made by anti-abortion activists.
    • Aug 5, 2015
  • Maddie's Place makes a believer out of a skeptic

    After a long hiatus, I return to Maddie's Place in Riverdale and find the food is a lot tastier than I remembered.
    • Aug 19, 2015
  • The Lemon Cakery is pure bliss

    In the eternal and often epic battle between "cake" and "pie," I normally come down on the pie side of things. The Lemon Cakery puts that rule to the test—deliciously.
    • Oct 1, 2015

Most Shared

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation