I was chatting with a corn farmer in Montana looking for advice. He has a rather persistent ‘weed’ issue of Amaranthus species (Waterhemp/Marestail) in his fields.
I went out on a limb and told him he could try to find a market for it. It is edible.
I found the following in a quick search of edible plant databases for all amaranthus species like waterhemp/marestail: Young leaves are very rich in iron, a good source of vitamins A and C. They are eaten raw or cooked as a spinach and have a mild flavor so are often mixed with stronger flavored leaves. Seed – raw or cooked. Ground into a powder and used as a cereal substitute, it can also be sprouted and added to salads. The seed is very small, about 1mm in diameter, but easy to harvest and very nutritious. The flavor is greatly improved by roasting the seed before grinding it. It is often added to cornmeal. The whole plant can also be used as a dye.
Of course he might need to reconsider some of his (now roundup based) pest management strategies if he wants to access the wild foods market.
Might be worth it though.
Here is a poem about one of these ‘weed’ species.
by Cory Childs
Why does attention so fondly take hold
whenever new moonflower buds
on lonely land cleared of the last’s marigolds
that long masqueraded as love?
Will arum give way to hydrangea?
Will heartsease yield lavender’s bite?
I cling to mad dreams of hibiscus
conceived in the moonflower’s light.