Well, if TSHTF (for all you non-Peak-Oilers, that's "the shit hits the fan"), it might be useful to know a little about wild foods. And even if TSNHTF ("the shit never hits the fan"), it's still fun, useful, and nutritious to do a little foraging.
Lamb's-quarters is sometimes called wild spinach, because it's a tasty green you can use like spinach. According to an article in Mother Earth News, lamb's-quarters
is a relative of spinach and one of the most widely distributed plants on earth. In years gone by, both Europeans and American Indians cultivated this leafy annual for its abundant yield of seeds (seeds which—incidentally—contain an average of 16% protein, compared to wheat's 14%).
While we're not going to be growing this for seeds any time soon--the shit would really have to hit the fan for that to happen--
As a green . . . lamb's-quarters is delicious. And surprisingly nutritious . . . for the uncooked plant happens to be richer in iron, protein, and vitamin B2 than either raw cabbage or raw spinach.
I've eaten young leaves, or the small leaves at the top of the plant, raw in salads. As long as the plant isn't over about a foot tall, though, you can eat any of the leaves cooked, just as you would spinach or other greens. I promise you, it's very tasty--I've served it to guests and garnered compliments.
Purslane is notable for containing omega-3 fatty acid, an unusual attribute for plants. It's also rich in calcium and iron. When we first started our gardens, we didn't have any purslane. I actually grew a cultivated variety (available at Richters, if you're interested). Now wild purslane has spread all over the place in that creeping fashion it's noted for. The raw leaves are an excellent addition to salads, being slightly acidic. You can also cook it as a green. If you have an abundance of this in your garden, you might want to check out this page for some recipes, or visit my other blog for a potato salad recipe. I'm planning to try the recipe for pickled purslane--sounds intriguing.
There are lots of other wild plants that can be used for food. Some of them must be cooked in order to get rid of undesirable qualities; some even have to be cooked in two or three changes of water to rid them of bitterness. But purslane and lamb's-quarters are delicious, easy, and dependable, and usually grow in quantities greater than a vegetable gardener would like. The best way to deal with them is to harvest and eat them!