Defeat weeding by eating – Part 3: Lambsquarters and nutrition

Struggling to get the kids to weed the garden? Turn weeding into harvesting by teaching youth how some weeds are nutritious to eat, like common lambsquarters.

common lambsquarters
Common lambsquarters. Photo by Lynn Sosnoskie, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org.

Getting kids, and adults, to weed can be a chore. By turning weeding into harvesting, we can get good nutritious food while helping our plants grow.

Ask the young people you are working with why weeding is important. You could do an experiment in your garden where you weed one patch around a plant and leave another patch with the same plant unweeded and see which thrives better or gives you more tasty vegetables.

The weed we are going to look at in this article is common lambsquarters (Chenopodium album), also known as pigweed or goosefoot. Some pictures and a description can be found at University of California’s key to turf weeds.

My family and I built six 4-feet by 8-feet raised bed gardens this spring. We planted the gardens in late May and soon we were overrun with lambsquarters. We decided to try eating the lambsquarters and to cook it in different ways. It tastes like spinach, both in its raw and cooked forms. Lambsquarters can be easily substituted in any recipe that uses spinach. Our family had them sautéed with a little Worcestershire sauce, put into quiche, omelets and casseroles, cooked with onions and peanut butter and many other ways.

Most people know that eating a wide variety of foods is important, but why? Foods are high in different vitamins and minerals. Different plants use those vitamins and minerals to help them grow in their environment. A 1 ounce serving of raw lambsquarters has 65% of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin A and 37% for vitamin C (more vitamin C than oranges for the weight). Vitamin A helps support our immune system and vision.

A word of caution: Whenever trying a new food, it is best to try only a small amount and wait for a few days to test for allergic reactions before trying more.

Happy weeding!

This is Part 3 in a series of Michigan State University Extension articles on edible weeds in the garden and using them to teach science lessons. These activities can be done in a family, in a daycare or school activities, or with any group working with children and gardens. See Parts 1 and 2:


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