Pascal Baudar – the master of foraging for food in the wild.
If you don’t know who he is…put down your canning jars & run to the nearest computer. He’s my hero! He’s the man! The guru of grasses, the wizard of weeds, the godfather of wild grains.
I’m sure he has no idea I even exists, let alone idolize him something fierce, but I just can’t help myself. Even after a life-long love affair with the gifts of Mother Earth, he influences me to learn more, seek more, BE more in this delightful journey we’re on as foragers, wild foodies & lovers of the earth. In the words of Pascal himself –
‘What I like about my journey is the fact that it never ends, constantly learning and understanding that the more you know, the more you realize that you don’t know shit. It keeps you humble.’
Thanks, Pascal! Couldn’t have put it better myself.
Intro to Invasive Species
So why this sudden rave on Mr. Baudar? Well… I own everything he’s written and pour over each and every one of his social media posts like a fiend. And lately this ruthless devouring of his content has opened up a whole new world for me – do you have any idea how much nutritious delight awaits you in the hidden gems of species deemed ‘invasive’? Neither did I!?
There is a plethora of plant and animal life that has been deemed meddlesome. You can find ’em in the air, water & soil of every state. And some are actually quite detrimental to the landscape.
In Montana, the battle against leafy spurge and knapweed is real. These plants are robbing the earth of it’s grasslands, poisoning livestock in numbers & evading almost any type of control. Weed seed predators barely make an impact in stressing these plants. Biological weed control regimens are constantly being developed to deal with them, but even the dreaded glysophate is no match for the incredible rate at which these plants spread. Some of the seed banks that these truly noxious weeds have stored up are astronomical. And it doesn’t stop there. Our waterways are polluted with Eurasian watermilfoil & New Zealand mud snails hitching rides on the unsuspecting angler’s boat or bait bucket
Of course there’s the more common varietals of invasive plants we all know and love, like St John’s wort & dandelions, but lately Pascal has been on a truth mission. He’s committed to raising awareness for some of the most overlooked cuisine – invasivore cuisine. Wild seeds & grains. Figs. Feral olives. Watercress. Mustards. Le swoon! He is serving up some of the most ‘unwanted’ plants. And he’s doing it in style.
Nuture Mother Earth
Becoming aware of invasive flora & fauna makes it especially important for us as stewards of the land, to be able to recognize exactly what species in our areas are actually detrimental and which ones we can utilize to help & heal. If you forage for food in the wild, do yourself a favor and become familiar with each of the varied invasive species that are thriving in your area.
We can each act as a critical piece to help aid in the healing of our incredible planet through the choices we make about everything, including what we put in our mouths. There is nothing better than creating nourishing terroir that tastes great and benefits our planet. And it’s that much more powerful when we incorporate nature’s ‘invasive’ treats. Double whammy! How many of these useful plants can you name in your neck o’ the woods?
Toads & Seeds & Such…
I’ve been really enjoying immersing myself in foraging for what other’s deem roadside nuisances. While I’ve always been a huge fan of feeding the masses with every weed I can find, Pascal’s posts and the following research I’ve done on crafting cuisine with ‘invasive’ plant life has taken it to a whole new level. I used wild watercress in my chicken stock the other day & sprouted a handful of the wild clover that has been so rampant in our wet Montana summer.
I can’t tell you the number of folks I’ve heard complain about the explosion of clover this year. If only they knew that by foraging for food in the wild, they could have a year’s worth of delicious sprouts in an afternoon of combing a clean, luscious field for their goodness! This process could be repeated with mustard, alfalfa, non-native radish species & a whole lot more! It’s so inexpensive and incredibly simple.
I’ve included my process for sprouting below. Once you know how easy it is to sprout your own, even in the dead of winter, you may never buy sprouts from the grocery store again. Becoming proficient at sprouting seeds is a fantastic homesteading skill & can provide your family with a wide array of affordable nutrients during any season.
Seed Sprouting at Home
- Soak desired seeds or seed blend overnight in a glass jar of any type.
- Drain seeds by running through a cheese cloth, small screen or paper towel.
- Place the jar out of direct sunlight & lay the jar on it’s side so the air can circulate over your future sprouts.
- Rinse morning and evening until seeds start to grow!
- Enjoy your little sprouted beauties – it really is that easy.
The Invasivore’s Feast
I totally dug learning a new word -‘invasivore’. While the Webster’s dictionary doesn’t give this gem the recognition it deserves, there are entire blog posts & websites revolving around it. Check out http://invasivore.org/ for some extremely interesting recipes, like the one for ‘Bullfrog Leg Piccata’ that we made and adored. You can find a copy of the recipe HERE…try it if you dare!
I especially love the definition the Urban Dictionary provides –
An invasivore is someone who eats invasive species of plant and animal life(Caribbean lionfish, green mussels, Asian carp etc) both for culinary enjoyment and to help control outbreaks of invasive species in native environments.
John: I heard about this new restaurant that serves lionfish fillets. They’re delicious and I want to eat as many as I can to get them out of our bay.
Jill: Yeah, I’m becoming a total invasivore. I even ate a python steak the other day.
Now that’s what I call foraging for food in the wild!
Another fantastic site I found is http://eattheinvaders.org/. These folks are raising awareness about the invasivore revolution in a huge way! You can find all sorts of awesome information & super recipes from practicing invasivores who are embracing this new way of feasting.
See!? By knowing your stuff and incorporating lots of different species into your meals when you’re foraging for food in the wild, you’re actually helping Miss Mother Earth – win/win! 🌎😊🌿