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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Eat Wild Berries Even in September!



Believe it or not, here in the mid-Atlantic state of Maryland we enjoy eating fresh, raw, wild berries for much of the growing season, April to October. We enjoy wild growing Blueberries, Dewberries, Raspberries, and Blackberries. And wild growing berries are some of the healthiest and tastiest local wild foods that one can find for free. For instance, last weekend my family went bicycling on a local rail trail and there along the trail in one area were many Japanese Silverberry (Elaeagnus umbellata) shrubs. These shrubs are from China and Japan and are naturalized in the US; may be invasive in certain areas. Regardless of their status, I was grateful to see them full of fruit during our bike ride, so we had to stop and eat them. I have eaten them in past years so I know they are edible and quite tasty. The Silverberry berries were tart this time, but they will become sweeter as they mature. The berries are easy to eat as the seed inside is very chewable. The berries grow in clumps which makes them easy to pick; just grab a handful! So, my son and I enjoyed eating the Silverberry berries for about 30 minutes and I packed a bag full of the branches laden with fruit to eat later at home. We like to put some berries into our green smoothie which we make every day.
And there appears to be health benefits of this particular berry too! I think all wild food has health benefits but it may take a while for western science to study these wild foods and detail the actual health benefits. Anyways, according to Wikipedia, the Japanese Silverberry berries “have from 7 to 17 times the amount of the antioxidant lycopene than tomatoes have.” Do you remember all of the reports of how one has to cook tomatoes to get more lycopene? Well, now we know that one can forget that and just enjoy the fine wild berries of Japanese Silverberry found growing in a clearing or field near you. I invite you to go out on a hike or bike ride to find them now. The berries are ripe from September to November. Enjoy!
Links:
Wikipedia Article on Japanese Silverberry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elaeagnus_umbellata
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