A few years ago I considered vegetarianism extreme, veganism crazy and I hadn’t even heard of a raw food diet. And now – as a fully convinced yet try-hard raw foodist – the bar has again been raised. Today I was guided on a walk through Stave Hill Ecological Park in the centre of metropolis London by ‘wild raw’ foodist, Rob from Funky Raw.
‘There’s no way I can go back. If I eat a cooked meal – the next day, I know it – cooked food is not for me,’ said Rob, who hasn’t been sick for the seven years he has been raw. Rob runs Funky Raw, an online raw food shop, publishes Raw magazine and is no less than a raw food guru who very generously allowed eight of us into his secret world of wild raw greens.
Walking from Canada Water tube towards the Eco Park, Rob explained that this is the first raw wild walk of the year. ‘Last winter there were wild greens everywhere but this winter these’s been almost none. But in the last three weeks, it’s all blossomed.’
And wow! Blossoming it is indeed. Less than a metre into the park, we were chewing delicious hawthorn, a few steps later I ate the bitter and natural diuretic dandelion leaf (‘piss de lit’ in French), followed by a ‘slice’ of dock. Rob was hesitant to point out the nettles, but lost the battle considering that was the only plant we all recognised. A few brave team members closely followed his instructions, rolled up the nettle leaf and popped it in their mouths! I have to admit I was curious to see what would happen to someone’s tongue if they were stung half chew, but am also glad to report that my perverse curiosity was not satisfied.
Rob also gave us a strict health warning. ‘Some plants are poisonous, and because flowers are similar across plants, you mustn’t use them as the only identification.’ He told us that hemlock can kill and for the above reason, he doesn’t go near wild carrot or wild parsley as the leaves are fairly alike.
Because wild greens grow when they grow best and where they grow best, their nutrients are maximised. That means they are a super-rich and natural source of essential proteins and vitamins as well as enzymes and invaluable chlorophyll. The two hour walk was a raw food adventure that has completely changed my narrow, superficial and commercial view of greens. As much as I love lettuce and spinach, I can’t believe that’s been the limit of my leafy green experience until now.
Here are some the wild raw greens we came across in the centre of London today:
Edible thistle – a slightly bitter taste, but delicious and as with dandelion and milk thistle – good for the liver.
Dandelion is a well known diuretic and liver tonic. The flower heads and leaves are great in salads and the leaves make a great tea.
Wild leek is amazing and delicious. Looking a bit like out-of-control grass, it is a definite must in my future vegetable patch.
Wild Garlic – these leaves were stunningly garlicky flavoured. I am hooked.
Nettles – great steeped to make tea, juiced or added to smoothies.
We also saw and ate chick weed, green alkanet, mallow, plantain, which is good for de-toxing heavy metals, and sweet violet. My salads will be a whole lot more interesting from now on. Although Rob reiterated one important rule of ‘harvesting’ wild greens; ‘If you see a plant and pick it, only pick a little and move on to make sure that particular plant will continue to thrive.’
Rob isn’t sure if he will be doing more of these walks but I suggest you keep an eye on the events section of his website www.funkyraw.com.