Saturday, February 20, 2010

I love my classroom...

...because it's the world.

I've lost count of how many edible wild plant classes I taught lately, though two stand out. Last week I did an urban foraging class out of an independent bookstore in downtown Houston.

Someone there made these awesome flyers for the event and posted them all over town.

Nineteen people showed up for that class. We spent several hours exploring the three-block radius around the bookstore and found twenty-nine different types of wild edibles! It's amazing how much food grows in the sidewalk cracks and empty lots of the city.

The second notable class was today at the Houston Arboretum. What made it so special (other than the huge turnout) was I finally found some stinging nettles. These plants are a powerhouse of nutrition, being loaded with vitamins, minerals, protein, and assorted medicinal molecules. It's an amazingly good plant though one has to handle it carefully. The stem and leaves of the stinging nettle are covered with tiny needles filled with formic acid which makes even the slightest touch with bare skin very painful. Growing up we used to call these "Burn Thistles" as they caused a wicked burning sensation. My hand still tingles from touching the plant over eight hours ago. I have to admit though that pain of stinging nettles is kind of like the oral burn of hot peppers and it can be similarly addicting.

Stinging nettles. Those "hairs" are filled with yummy formic acid!

Along with the discovery of stinging nettles it turned out one of the people in the class is a finalist in the auditions for second season of The Colony. She took my class to prepare for the show. I may be teaching her a bunch more survival-related stuff in the few weeks before she ships out.

Some of today's students. I'm the giant, the (hopefully) future star of The Colony is the lady next to me.

Some of you may have noticed I'm not wearing my hat in the picture above. This is because some mo-*%$#@&^*!!! rat bastard stole my hat! I bought that hat several years ago with the money from my first journal article. It was the perfect hat: huge-brimmed, weatherproof, breathable, infinitely shapable, and dang sharp looking. I am furious at whoever stole it!!

Adventure! Excitement! Stinging!


Richard said...

What kind of bag are you carrying?

Izzy G. said...

That is an EPIC poster someone drew up for you. I hope you kept that.

PS: Yes, what bag is that? Looks like...Orvis or Duluth brand.

Merriwether said...

The bag is a Kakadu Utility Bag.

I like it but the quality isn't as high as I thought it'd be. The leather straps on front pockets both fell off within a few weeks of getting it.

Bramble said...

OK, hat theft pitches me over the edge...we're talking WAY above "criminal" here.

J-Ro said...


Jimsonweed Poisoning Associated with a Homemade Stew --- Maryland, 2008

CDC website.

Just an object lesson for your classes! :-)