local food wild food

edible plantain

I went to the Regenerative Design Institute (RDI) a few weeks ago to hang out with my friend Matt Berry. Here’s a video clip I shot of us discussing the nuances of fine wild edible cuisine. In this particular clip, Matt teaches us about the virtues and characteristics of plantain (Plantago species).

I was familiar with this plant (specifically the broadleaf plantain) very early in my naturalist career. I was using plantain that grew in my mother’s yard to help relieve the pain from cuts that my cousins received while playing. This was before I had even heard of permaculture and was just beginning to think about what weeds in the yard I could eat. An introduced European species, broadleaf plantain was called “white man’s footprint” by Native peoples in America (Turtle Island) as it was a weed that followed white men wherever they went. Of course, the Native Americans that encountered plantain instantly recognized its virtues and used it readily.
When talking about this plant with the general public, it often leads to a declaration of nerdiness as most people think plantain is of course a banana that you must cook. When explaining that you mean a common edible weed instead, you pretty much instantly label yourself as a “nerd” (as anyone who explains or adds nuance must be).