Weedy Greens the Latest in Gourmet Produce

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I recently wrote about the self-proclaimed "Wild Girl," a woman foraging for wild food (not just Dumpster-diving) in Portland, Ore. She made it to day six before succumbing to Thai food and energy bars -- turns out late May is slim pickings in Portland. But if her stint eating weeds cultivated a taste for dandelion greens and nettles, she won't necessarily have to go through the hassle of finding them herself anymore. It turns out many supermarkets are starting to carry weedy basics -- right next to the arugula and other high-end greens.

According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. supermarkets sold $2 million worth of dandelion greens in the year ending in March, a number up 9 percent from the previous year. The chain Earth Fare Inc., saw even steeper gains -- a 40 percent increase in dandelion-greens sales for the year.

The Journal speculates on a few of the potential explanations behind the numbers. Namely: a return to old-fashioned cooking and an interest in superfoods -- the darker and leafier, the better. One thing that can't explain the interest, though (at least in store-bought as opposed to wild harvested weeds) is new economic frugality: Dandelion greens in Washington, D.C., apparently go for $9 a pound. While that certainly out-prices a head of iceberg, romaine or even a bag of fancy mixed greens, it's good news for farmers who can sometimes charge the same amount for their weeds as for their cultivated crops. Who knows, maybe by next summer people will be carefully plucking their dandelion greens for market instead of dousing them in Roundup.

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