A growing community of people make a regular practice of eating the wild plants of the East Bay.

As you know, just over 100 years ago, large groups of people lived in the East Bay and ate only locally. As density, homelessness and political instability rise, it is in everyone’s best interest to get to know our particular piece of earth in more depth. What would you do if you couldn’t get your groceries?

Very few residents of the East Bay without native plant knowledge would know what to do. Those who grow their own food would be no more valuable than those who can identify food sources already flourishing on public land.

NASTURTIUM

Photo courtesy of  Alice Sabo.

They are spicy, especially in the stems, and good in salads with a vinaigrette.

FENNEL

Fennel

Dark fennel is the secret to a great roast lamb. But if you’re a vegetarian, boil some, add honey, and drink it, and it will keep your immune system robust. Or put it in your nasturtium salad with greens.

NODDING ONION

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Try them in pasta salad or a hearty, low-heat dish. They are intense and taste like garlic.

Some of the best plants are to be found far from car exhaust, in the hills of Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond, San Leandro and Hayward.

However, some really great plants are in the flats, including West and North Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond, because the marsh climate is more moist, and places with the least human “development” often have a greater kind of ecological development. There are a few developers, however, like Diller, Scofidio, and Renfro, who are at least conscious of ecological flows.

The best place to find out more about the wildlife of California is from native tribes who have been studying the land for thousands of years. You can also check out the work of local publisher and author Malcolm Margolin, whose imprint Heyday Books has been sharing information on the Ohlone and other tribes for several decades.

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