Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Purslane - the weed that may be the best food on earth

How's that for a title to draw you in?

A weed - that constant source of annoyance to gardeners and homeowners alike - is, if claims are to be believed, possibly the most nutritious food on the planet.

But let me backtrack -

Last weekend I was at the farmer's market. I knew I was going to have to unexpectedly head out of town for a few days (which is why you're not getting beets and kale this week either), so there wasn't much I needed. I was just wandering as my daughter shopped.

I was scanning the greens on the table when I overheard a conversation behind me. A woman was asking her friends if they'd ever eaten purslane. She said she had learned about it from some cooking show and that it was one of the healthiest foods in the world. It looked to me like a mini Jade plant.

I took a closer look. The label said it was the richest plant source of omegas. So I bought some.

Now, I think reading Shakespeare may be the only other time I've heard of purslane. Or it may have been in a Shakespeare garden I visited.

Since I'd be at my mother's house and not really able to cook, I thought I'd explore a little more for today's post. 

The first thing I did when I got home was Google Purslane.
The results gave me words like "Exceptionally nutritious," "Edible supergreen," 


Yes, purslane is a common weed.

But somewhere in my researching I came across a discussion about how most research done on weeds is how to eradicate them, but the best way to do that is to simply eat them!

Why would you want to eat a weed? 

Well, according to Nutrition and You
"Soft, succulent purslane leaves have more omega-3 fatty acids than in some of the fish oils."
According to Mother Earth News:
Purslane may be a common plant, but it is uncommonly good for you. It tops the list of plants high in vitamin E and an essential omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Purslane provides six times more vitamin E than spinach and seven times more beta carotene than carrots. It’s also rich in vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorus. 

An interesting quote from the site Heal With Food:
Studies investigating the remarkable longevity and low rate of cardiovascular diseases among people living on the Greek island of Crete suggest that the high dietary intake of ALA from foods like purslane, walnuts, figs, and stamnagathi might be a key contributor to Cretans' exceptionally good health.
(If you're wondering, stamnagathi is a wild green that grows on Crete.)

I love this video because he's playing ball with the dog while he talks about purslane.

I found this video that I thought was fascinating  – especially for us as writers wanting to understand different lives people choose

The Woman who eats weeds

She also has a website:  Julia's Edible Weeds 

I loved this video - part of a series called Eat the Weeds:

I don't really recommend picking purslane in the wild because there is a look-alike that's actually poisonous. This video does a really good job of showing the difference between the two.

So, how do you feel about eating weeds?  Are you ready to give purlane a try? Or do you already eat it?

Let's talk about weeds. :)


  1. Purslane grows wild here and in a very short period of my life where I actually tried to be "Green Mama", I tried it.

    Am I terrible person if I admit to liking iceberg lettuce? Nice and crunchy? And I know it has no redeeming qualities at all, but do you guys remember when a "wedge" salad was a big thing on the magazine circuit? A wedge of iceberg, topped with other veggies or on its own and served with dressing... Mmmm

    But I do try to behave now, somewhat, and while I prefer peach pie and vanilla ice cream, I eat a lot of salad-style foods because they're good for us!

    I'm glad you brought this up... I'm still doing the 12 hour night fast and eating what I want during the day, and it's working. Who knew timing was so important, Cate?

    So I'm probably not going to eat purslane again any time soon, but then again... I just might!

    And I remembered to get over here today, Cate!!! I REMEMBERED!!!!!

  2. Thank you for remembering, Ruthy. My weeds and I appreciate it. As I was writing about buying this at the Farmer's Market, I wondered if any of you non-urban folk had it growing on your property.

    According to one of those videos, the Greeks do it as sort of a stir fry with feta. That sounds interesting.

    I found the texture disconcerting.

  3. I'll eat weeds - but I usually want to mix them in with something. Dandelion greens are pretty bitter, I think, but I'll cook them, much like cooking lettuce greens with a vinegar dressing and bacon.

    Everything is better with bacon, isn't it?

    My problem here is that we're so arid that the weeds tend to be things like thistles and wild lettuce. I haven't seen purslane in years...probably since we lived in Kentucky.

    So yes to weeds, as long as they're tasty!

    Thanks for the info!

  4. The first thing I thought of as I watched that last video was we now have all the elements for a good murder mystery. How to poison someone with a salad. Bwahahahaha! You should put it in a book.

    I'm still not sure if I have purslane or not. I do have a succulent looking plant that is growing on the edge of my garden and the driveway. It has thick leaves and a red stem but I'm not brave enough to try it.

    I'll eat weeds and flowers in a nice salad. Fiddleheads are divine in the spring. I've seen people picking them and dandelion greens at the side of the road in the city. Not a good idea because of the exhaust from the cars. So I'd stick with getting it from an organic grower.

    Oh and I loved the dog fetching video and the fact that the guy was casually chatting growing tip in the rain because what gardener doesn't enjoy a good, steady rain?

  5. I've never tried it. But I will now! I had no idea. Thanks for enlightening me!

    1. I'm betting your life will never be the same, Missy. LOLOL

  6. Thanks for watching the videos, Kav. I loved the guy with the dog. It was just such a slice of life.

    I've never had a fiddlehead. Hmmmm. Next spring?