Get the Lead Out

HERD ABOUT IT?

by Ana Grarian

 This spring I am enjoying nibbling on wild Garlic-Mustard, and invasive species that was brought to the US as a food crop. Apparently the same is true of Dandelions. I know several people who love dandelion greens. They are a bit too bitter for my liking, but then I have never tried cooking them. My husband’s mother loved them, and they are very nutritious.

Garlic-Mustard was growing in the garden of our new place, and since I didn’t know what it was, I let it grow. When my landlord came by to drop off mulch, he told me it was a weed, and to pull it out, or it would take over.  I promptly did, and then investigated the plants that were growing wild in the woods across the street.

They are quite tasty. A bit bitter, and variably hot depending on soil and rainfall. I like the flowers and the tender, top leaves best.

When I shared this information with my neighborhood association, several people responded with warnings about harvesting plants within the city due to lead contamination in the soil. Many urban soils are contaminated from lead paint ,and from exhaust fumes from vehicles prior to the mid 1980’s when lead was removed from fuels.

Hmmmm. I’m even happier I decided to grow in containers this year. One fellow shared this link to UCDavis: Home Gardens and Lead: What you should know about growing plants in lead contaminated soil. Lead is taken up diferently by different types, and parts of plants, but don’t despair, there are steps you can take for safe gardening and eating. And you might just be making your neighborhood healthier while you’re at it.

On our walk last Friday I found that garlic-mustard is growing in my daughter’s woods, far from any past or present structure, so I will continue my nibbling.