Eating the Weeds: Red Rooted Pigweed

So I’ve become an accidental pigweed farmer.

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Where my beans used to live, pigweed has taken over, while ironically acting as trellising for the beans in some Twilight Zone threeursula sisters abomination. Also known as Amaranthus retroflexus, this bastard of the Amaranth family never quite managed to make it to domestication and decided to take that fact out on all of us by GROWING EVERYWHERE OUT OF REVENGE. It’s like the Ursula of weeds.

You can spot it by its almost amaranth appearance, as well as its distinctive magenta root. The new leaves grow in small rosettes (which are also the best to harvest).

The seeds are also edible (up to 10,000 per plant). Once the plant dies in the fall, snip off the seed spikes at the top and loosely place in a paper bag. Allow to dry for a week, then gently thresh and winnow the seeds like you would normal amaranth. They can be added to hot cereals, flours, etc.

A word of caution: in agricultural areas, they can store up an overabundance of nitrates from the soil so it is not recommended to eat this plant if it’s grown inorganically. This plant isn’t suggested for livestock but moderate human consumption from low nitrogen areas should be fine. Cooking and discarding the water should help reduce the levels of nitrates.  It’s also claimed pigweed has high oxalic acid levels, but many common foods do as well and aren’t given a warning (parsley, black pepper, chocolate, broccoli, etc.); this is normally reserved for wild plants for some reason. Basically unless you’re eating pounds of this shit every day you’re fine.

And as always, if you have a health condition, ask a doctor before you start yanking shit out of the ground and eating it.

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