What is veldkos? The direct translation from Afrikaans is veld meaning bush and kos meaning food.
Its Indigenous edible plants. A rich and under-utilized food source that grows naturally in South Africa. Far more water wise than normal veg and herbs. You probably have some growing in your garden right now.
There are various indigenous edible leaves, roots, shoots and berries that can contribute to our every day diet. Read up about it,speak to people involved in the plant world, go to talks and demonstrations, chat to people in your community and those with Indigenous plant knowledge. Experiment with recipes and share the information you find with others. We should preserve this fading knowledge and spread around it for everyone to learn, re-discover and enjoy in our modern world.
Just make sure you can positively identify the plant before eating as there are also a lot of very toxic plants out there. Also be sure to get permission to harvest plants off the land if it is not your property and harvest sustainably – underground corms, roots and bulbs are not sustainable to harvest unless you are happy to do so in your own garden or they are seriously prolific and seen as a weed in many areas. So many species have become extinct or are rare and endangered because of over harvesting in the wild.
If you think that wild food would taste bland and bitter – think again! Yes, some of them like Aloe and Tsama melons and Orbea are incredibly (indelibly?) bitter – but these just need to go through a process. Some need leaching, some to be soaked in a slaked lime solution, and others to be roasted over hot coals. All could become amazing additions to our meals. The following should always be taken into consideration: What parts of the plant may be used, when to harvest, how to prepare them and if you should be cautious in the amounts you eat.
Two great books to start with would be Renata Coetzee‘s Koekemakranka and Food from the Veld by F.W Fox and M.E Norwood Young.
Here is a wonderful display of Indigenous edible plants by Zayaan Khan at a recent IKSDC event at Joule City in Cape Town.
Forage Harvest Feast were catering with Fynbos flavours to enhance the food.
Start planting indigenous edible into your garden to literally star reaping the benefits.
We have started a Veldkos garden here at the nursery – its baby steps all the way, and will be a long labour of love for many years – but promises to be a delicious journey. View the planting progress in photos here.
This weekend at the Kirstenbosch Annual Indigenous Plant Fair we had a stall selling our plants from Good Hope Gardens Nursery.
We also promoted Indigenous edible plants and had some Fynbos Flavour tasters from the Forage Harvest Feast range. See what we got up to here.
For some local Indigenous food inspiration, visit these guys:
How fascinating to imagine that man used plants for food, medicine and for poisons. How sad it would be to lose this knowledge. Lets try to revive the way we connect to our natural surrounds and learn to use the plants growing naturally in our area as food. I hope this post has made you hungry for Indigenous edible plant knowledge!