Talk About Dirt Cheap: 3 Extreme Foods Found for Free in the Ground

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So you want to save money on food? It may be time to readjust your taste buds, get your hands dirty, and eat something you might normally want to shoo out of your house or rip out of your pristine lawn.

Here are three suggested food sources that most Americans wouldn’t even think to consider as food:

A TreeHugger post highlights the idea of dining on grasshoppers, crickets, and other insects as sustainable sources of protein:

… the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) thinks it is time for an end to the “Eewww!” response to the thought of eating insects. The FAO reports that there are more than 1000 edible insect species. Insects can provide protein in the diet at a much lower environmental cost than traditional livestock, such as cows, pigs, or sheep.

Presumably, if you’re gathering the critters yourself, a meal comes at a lower financial cost as well. You may have to round up quite a few crickets to fill your belly, though.

Plenty of Americans eat mushrooms. Far fewer go into the woods to forage for theirs. USA Today talks to Connie Green, who leads groups into the wilderness to do just that, and who co-authored a book on the topic, The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes. Before gobbling down just any fungi found in the woods or somebody’s lawn, consider some advice:

For mushrooms, which require a certain amount of expertise to distinguish the dangerous from the sublime, [Green] suggests finding your local mushroom club. These offer frequent “forays,” as organized mushroom-hunting trips are called. To find the nearest one, check out the North American Mycological Association’s website or do search for “mushroom-hunting club” and your town, she says.

Christopher Nyerges is another food forager, though his specialty is guiding groups into the woods on the hunt for weeds that’ll serve as lunch. An NPR writer also discusses the joys of rounding up and cooking with dandelions, nettle, and other weeds from her yard:

Starting in the spring, there’s a veritable parade of weeds to eat. If you ask true foragers, they’ll reel off a list, hedging their enthusiasm with caveats: There’s the pest Japanese knotweed (only good when young) and the toxic-’til-boiled pokeweed (only good when mature) and that infamous encroacher, garlic mustard (best picked before flowering).

And if there’s one thing we know about weeds, it’s that there’s no shortage of them. They grow like weeds!

Meet the Guru of Edible Landscaping