Eat This Plant.

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Spring in the Catskills beings an incredible array of wildflowers, wildlife and the first trickle of visitors. This year is your opportunity for locals and visitors alike to favor the beauty, and biodiversity of these Mountains by being leaders in "Good for the Woods" foraging.
 
Hurricane Irene moved thousands of tons of soil and organic material. Roots rhizomes, seeds and other reproductive parts of invasive species are now sprouting in places that have been protected and threatening the beauty, biology and marketability of this unique place.
 
The long winter and late snow is forcing a condensed blooming season for one of the most easily identifiable and tasty invasive species.  Garlic Mustard. Take this rare opportunity to learn to identify and harvest this non-native, highly successful, invasive and tasty green. Be the first in your neighborhood to learn how to cook the hottest most socially and environmentally conscious vitamin packed vegetable.
 
Take a pass on ramps. Ramp Fests and Brooklyn Hay Markets destroy acres of public park land by fueling a $25 per pound poaching market. Once the hip rare "Food of Foodies" these seasonal leeks have become poster children for misguided rare food lovers. (You know being on the cutting edge of fine food food is over when you see the ingredient on a menu in Atlantic City.) Try instead this abundantly available, yet little utilized zesty, pungent, over the top guilt free forgeable green.
 
Here is a simple, time honored recipe for good greens and great habitat management delivered to me by my dear friend, long time Woodstock resident and fine artist Inyo Charbonneau.
 
Sautéed Garlic Mustard Greens
 
Pick young garlic mustard - careful to avoid areas near road sides, old homesteads, and gray fields.  
Pull young greens, roots and all - along foot trails in the woods. Pull lots! Consider making a huge batch to share with friends.
 
Rise, chop, (discarding the roots) and sauté the greens lightly with olive oil. Squeeze lime on top and add a dash of salt.
This amazing Spring Green dinner includes the beauty of knowing that your meal protects native plant habitat.
 
Westchester is a copy book for invasive species taking over tracts of land. Local parks have abundant Garlic Mustard where the Trillium, Solomon Seal, Jack In The Pulpit and Maiden Hair ferns used to grow. Groundwork Hudson Valley and The Saw Mill River Coalition sponsor invasive species removal volunteer days. Thousands of tons of bad plants are pulled and cut each year. Volunteer leaders from The Native Plant Center suggest that to beat back invasive species you've got to "hit them early, hit them hard." Luckily or unluckily we in the Catskills we are on the front line of invasive plant movement and we are blessed with the ability to thwart them with small efforts. We can literally eat our way to better more beautiful mountains.
 
Why should locals and visitors in the Catskills get this side dish on our radar? Property values, tourism, hunting, and because we love it here!
Most importantly because we can affect change now. These plants reproduce at an alarming rate. Snooze even one season and they will become logarithmically harder to control.
 
When you hike, bike, stroll, patrol, ride, play or skip in the Hudson Valley keep an eye out for Garlic Mustard.
Take a moment to really see it, how much of it is in your view way this year.  Come back to the same spot and compare how much is there next year. Forage and eat this healthful green and help us keep it in check!
 
Learn more:
 
Check out The National Park Service's great Garlic Mustard Fact Sheet