Goosefoot and ground elder

Earlier today I posted the following tweet:

Annotation 2019-12-26 154232

in response to an article on Phys.org that suggested that goosefoot could form an important food source.

Well, if you’ve had amaranth in an Indian meal, or eaten quinoa, you’ve eaten Chenopodium. Goosefoot is not these, but a wild form that used to be foraged by early farmers in Europe.

We know they ate it because we’ve found the seed in their cess pits, mixed in storge pits and even preserved in the stomachs of bog bodies.

It’s not really on the menu these days, but about thirty years ago in a moment of archeobotanical experimentation a former girlfriend cooked some up much as you would use amaranth.

Let’s simply say it was uncompromisingly strong flavoured. You would eat it if you have to, but I wouldn’t cross the street for it. Spinach is definitely nicer.

On the subject of spinach, the same girlfriend also experimented on me by using ground elder in place of spinach.

Certainly it was nicer than goosefoot, but still pretty tough and chewy compared to the spinach you either grow at home or buy from the supermarket.

And I think that tells us something – there are a lot of foods out there which are good and nutritious, but need special handling, perhaps because like goosefoot and warrigal greens, they are high in oxalates, or other toxins, or like groundelder, simply havn’t been bred to be the most palatable, which means picking an processing them takes work.

Much much easier to get a bag of prewashed spinach from the supermarket …

About dgm

Former IT professional, previously a digital archiving and repository person, ex research psychologist, blogger, twitterer, and amateur classical medieval and nineteenth century historian ...
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