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Can we eat it?

Updated on: 12 December,2021 09:07 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Nidhi Lodaya |

These urban ‘hunter gatherers’ are taking the plant-based diet to another level by foraging and consuming edible wild plants. Follow them to go truly green

Can we eat it?

Subhashini Annamalai

Subhashini Annamalai

Bangalore-based Subhashini Annamalai started a small kitchen garden a few years ago and during her gardening sessions, developed an interest in the world of edible plants. “During these gardening sessions, I began introducing children to these edible plants and I also started learning and researching more about them,” she says. She connected with like-minded people on social media and paired their insights with her childhood knowledge and everything else she learnt through the internet. She says most of what she knows has been passed down to her orally. 
Follow: @greensofkanakapura,Instagram

Deepa Reddy

Cultural anthropologist, college professor, researcher and a mother of two, Deepa Reddy loves food and cooking. Relocating to India from the US meant adjusting to different roots and reconnecting with native foods. “It was like walking into a treasure lane,” she says about looking for wild edible plants. She was inspired by her botanist mother and fascinated by the way a lot of these plants live in the folk and literary traditions and scriptures of India. “When you research, you end up connecting with how other people live,” she says. Reddy has incorporated the usage of these plants into her everyday family diet. She documents her journey  and her recipes on this whimsical exploration on her blog.
Follow: @paticheri, Instagram

Shrey Gupta

A microbiologist by profession, Shrey Gupta left his corporate job almost 10 years ago and now helps people identify different types of fungi and mushrooms and teaches them how to grow mushrooms at home. “There are many types of mushrooms that the rural and tribal communities have been consuming for years, but the edible status is unknown in the scientific community. I work on bridging this gap,” says Gupta. He also has a mushroom support group that he has been running for the past five years where people share pictures of different species and he guides them on whether they are edible. 
Follow: @zoomintomicrobes, Instagram

Shruti Tharayil

Kerala-based self taught herbalist and founder of Forgotten Greens, Shruti Tharayil shares her experiential knowledge through her platform. After her postgraduate degree, Tharayil, as part of an NGO, started working with the pastoral adivasi community in Andhra Pradesh and noticed that they would consume something that, “I had always considered a weed and was told that it is dangerous, poisonous and not edible.” She really liked the taste and started documenting it. “I got most of my knowledge from rural people who are not formally educated, but have included such plants in their day to day life,” she says. She uses these plants in soups, dal and sambhar. One thing she ensures staying away from is mushrooms and does thorough research before consuming a new wild plant. 
Follow: @forgottengreens,  Instagram

Dr Maryanne Lobo

Dr Maryanne Lobo has been an Ayurvedic practitioner for 18 years. “I grew up with a father who taught us farming, and other organic principles right from the age of four,” says Lobo. She also recalls how she learnt a fair bit about plants and mushrooms from her grand-aunt who would forage for wild mushrooms. Not only are these plants seasonal, each also requires a specific method of cooking. “My grand-aunt would always cook mushrooms in a mud pot and never in aluminium steel.” Lobo hosts a variety of walks, namely urban, forest, foraging and medicinal trails, along with online workshops. She suggests that a novice should start by consuming wild edible plants in smaller quantities to avoid an upset stomach. “Consider putting a few leaves in your dal, omelette or make pakodas with them.”
Follow: @dr.maryannelobo, Instagram

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