An Iowa woman teaches a course in all things edible that’s a far cry from Julia Child’s kitchen. Cindy McCoy is an expert in wild plants that you could not only eat, but use for medicine.The inner bark of willow gave us aspirin, and Jack-in-the-pulpit was once used as food. McCoy says she’s been interested in wild foods since childhood, and has taught nature-lovers, scouts, and even a class of the National Guard’s helicopter pilots how they could survive on wild plants. McCoy says it’s not just old wives’ tales.She says it’s information used by Native Americans and some is from journals of early explorers like Cartier and Lewis & Clark. McCoy says it’s not a good idea to just to out in the wild and begin picking and eating things, as you can be fooled. She says there are good wild grapes, but similar plants with grape-like fruit that are poisonous. Same for Wild garlic and onions: one lookalike is called “death camas.” McCoy says since she was a little girl she’s loved learning about wild food and medicinal plants.McCoy gives a course in wild edibles and medicinals Monday at Saylorville Visitor Center, a class that drew 90 participants last year. She recommends books by the Audubon Society and ISU Press on wild plants of the Midwest, for those who want to learn more.
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