2. Never forage under power lines, near railroad tracks, alongside cultivated crop fields, on busy road sides, near any oil and gas tanks, wells or holding ponds, or near old buildings that you suspect might have lead paint.
3. Pay attention to water shed. Consider what is upstream from where you are foraging. For example, the watershed of Grand Lake of the Cherokees is toxic due to former mining operations.
4. Take precautions to protect yourself from ticks, chiggers and snakes. Wear long sleeves and pants. You may want to tuck your socks up under the cuff of your pants. Choose good comfortable close toe shoes or boots. I recommend wearing a bug repellent. There are many good herbal ones available. It is also important to be mindful of where you are walking to avoid obvious dangers, snakes, gopher holes, etc.
5. When trying an edible wild food for the very first time it is wise to test for possible allergic reactions. A simple test can be done by rubbing a small amount of the plant on your wrist. If that area turns red or becomes irritated, avoid that plant. If there is no reaction, you may consider putting a small piece in your mouth and chewing it a few times before spitting it out. Notice if your mouth becomes irritated or if you experience a tingling sensation of sorts. If you are still reaction free, you may want to eat a very small bite. These steps will help you figure out if you are allergic to the plant. I encourage my students to only eat a very small amount of any plant or fruit, etc, that is new to them. I then advise them to wait 24 hours before eating any more to make sure they do not have any unwanted reactions. Again, better safe than sorry.
6. Here in Oklahoma, as well as in other parts of the country, we have an abundance of poison oak and ivy. There are also some lesser known plants such as "Snow on the Mountain'' that contain tiny crystals in the sap that can burn your skin just by touching or rubbing up against it causing dermatitis and blisters. Again, be mindful, present and respectful while in nature. Mother Nature is powerful...
7. Always ask permission to be on private land. Some federal, state and city parks do not allow foraging. Neither do many wildlife preserves.
8. Wear proper clothing such as long sleeves, closed toe shoes and a hat. Sun screen and drinking water are very important. Gloves can be very helpful when harvesting certain plants and berries.
9. Better safe than sorry. Always tell someone where you are going and when you will return. It is wise to go walking with a partner and carry a cell phone if you can.
10. Never base your ID on just a picture in a book or on the web. Many pictures on the web have been identified incorrectly. If at all possible walk with someone who has vast experience when it comes to wildcrafting.
Note from Jenny: Jackie Dill is my dear mentor and a woman who has taught so many so much about wildcrafting and respect for the earth. To learn more about her and to purchase her books, please visit: http://www.oklahomawildcrafting.com/