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Foraging is great, but be careful of the sorrel!

Sorrel can cause complications and, raw, should mostly be avoided


I was pleased to read the article "City diner" by Lezlie Lowe (The Lowe Files, September 24), as foraging for edible plants has always been a part of my life since I was very young. I agree completely with everything that Jen Stotland had to say. I think more people should embrace this practice and take from the earth whatever it has to offer in abundance.

The only part which worried me slightly was suggesting that raw wood sorrel is edible. I have tasted this plant several times---it has a pleasant, sour flavour that is quite enjoyable---but I learned early on that this plant should mostly be avoided. Parts of it are toxic due to oxalic acid, and when eaten raw in large quantities it can cause unpleasant problems---from calcium deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances, nervous symptoms and reduced blood coagulation, to formation of oxalate crystals in the kidney tubes and urinary tract.

Obviously it would take a substantial amount of the raw plant to cause any type of major detriment, but you can never be too safe when it comes to your body functioning as it should. (If you must eat wood sorrel, boil it for a few minutes with some baking soda to remove its toxicity.)

That said, I applaud Jen Stotland for helping to bring this topic to light and I still urge everyone to forage for edible plants---not only is it fun, but it's interesting and often quite delicious. —Jaimy Paulin, Halifax

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