We wanted to share our article about foraging for wild edibles in Central Ohio from last year's spring issue. For those of you looking to forage this season, it offers some wise tips and a list of wild edibles that grow in the area, including ramps, violets and dandelions. —Colleen Leonardi
As spring rolls out her fresh, tender young leaves of green, local forager Julie Huff can't wait to get outside and start harvesting some hardy purslane or delicate rose petals. Early in the season, claims Julie, wild edibles "just taste a little bit better. To get the young leaves that are so good, like dandelion greens. The young ones are just so tender and fresh. As the season goes on they get more bitter, but nothing beats the first springtime."
Julie has been foraging all of her life—while she was growing up at her family's home and now in her backyard in Clintonville. "I remember being a little kid and finding violets and eating those," she says. "And chives."
Julie's community of friends trade foraging secrets and forage in each other's backyards. "It's definitely a community thing," she says. Backyards are best, she claims, because foraging in Columbus' Metro Parks, Ohio State Parks and on private property is illegal. And it's important to be aware of additional toxins in the soil and on the plants where you choose to forage.
When it comes to healthy eating, Green BEAN Delivery has been an innovator since 2007, using their online platform to deliver mostly local and organic produce and goods to homes across the Midwest. They've expanded that mission with a new wellness program that partners with Columbus businesses to improve the health and wellness of employees. Green BEAN Delivery now drops off employees' orders at participating businesses, sets up opportunities to talk to employees about healthy food options and provides recipes to help employees use the healthy produce they've purchased. Green BEAN Delivery also offers Break Room Bins, in which they provide healthy alternatives to vending machines in the office. Find out more in the following Q&A interview between our student writer Rita Skaff and Green BEAN Delivery's Vice President, John Freeland. —Leah Wolf
Rita Skaff: Why was Green BEAN Delivery started?
John Freeland: Our goal is to make healthy and sustainably grown foods affordable, accessible and convenient to the Midwest communities we serve. By working with a network of local farmers and artisans that have both urban and rural roots, Green BEAN Delivery builds food systems and businesses that address communities' greatest food challenges.
Sarah Fairchild's paintings capture the detail and allure of vegetables in an uncommon way. An Ohio native, Sarah came by painting vegetables honestly—she spent her childhood in the garden, growing and canning food with her mother and grandmother. Yet her technique brings common staples like corn and cauliflower to life with one of the most joyful and unexpected colors—fluorescent pink. Standing in front of one Sarah's works, I'm swallowed up by the brightness of cabbages and how they call to me from the wall like sunlight through an open door. And that made me want to interview her to find out why vegetables, farming and art are so meaningful to her. —CL
Q: What inspired you to start painting vegetables?
A: I grew up following my mother and grandmother through vegetable and flower gardens. It was a true "farm to table" experience. I helped them pull weeds, plant seeds, harvest as well as can and freeze vegetables for the winter. As an adult, I rediscovered my love for plants by noticing the amazing produce at farmers market, walking through my neighborhood alleys and visiting community gardens. I found the vegetables beautiful, alluring and more interesting than the flowers. I knew I wanted to explore these forms in my painting.
Beans are an essential part of the delicious Indian, Provençal and Middle Eastern cuisines, but many home cooks in the United States are hesitant to use them. Eliza Sproat of HnL Enterprises wants to change that. Eliza and her husband developed the Quick-Cook Bean Pot that allows cooks to quickly and easily cook nutritious dried black beans, chickpeas, fava beans and more over the stovetop without overnight soaking. A native of Columbus, Eliza came across the inspiration for the pot in her husband's hometown of Cairo, where bean pots are an essential kitchen item.—Leah Wolf
Leah Wolf: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Eliza Sproat: I gravitate toward good food. In high school, an Indian restaurant opened nearby; as soon as I saw the sign go up, I was determined to work there. I ate Saag Paneer every night. Some time later I ate in a Slavic restaurant. The food was so good that I secured a job there that night. Then, before college, I worked in a Chinese restaurant both to enjoy the cuisine and to practice Chinese. Since 1993 I have pined for the tofu that tasted exactly like the smoked Gouda I learned about in a noodle shop while studying Chinese in Beijing.
When my husband and I were dating while students at OSU, he made a concoction I'd never tried before. It consisted of chopped lettuce and parsley, chopped veggies (the beautiful thing is most any raw vegetable works), oil, lemon, cumin, salt, pepper and fava beans. I was hooked. That was more than twenty years ago. When my husband was invited to share a bit about his culture at a local Boys & Girls Club here in Columbus, he took the same dish and the crowd there was as enthusiastic about it as I was.