View Full Version : Elderberries by the roadside.
Everything i've read (food for free etc) says don't forage by the roadside because of contamination from car exhausts... i found a particularly good row full of elderberries beside a reasonable quiet road on my jog today - with all this rain about would anyone advise against harvesting them? do the contaminants get inside the fruit or just settle on the outside?
Can't remember to be honest, either Jumbalaya or Greg2935 will be able to tell you for certain, but I have a nasty suspicion that they actually get into the fruit.
personaly i wouldnt eat them, however i may do a little guerrilla gardening and plant an elderbery treee somewhere else for the future forage..
The problem of toxicity of wayside fruit gathering used to focused on the issue of lead in petrol. Now lead is hardly used in petrol it may be safer. However, better to collect away from roads I would have thought.
Lead would certainly be taken up by plants. I recall evidence that the blackberry actively concentrated lead.
Also be weary of the council spraying herbicides at the road sides.
Don't be tempted to touch anything on a roadside, or even near a road, there are a number of really serious (and painful) conditions you could end up with. In addition, a number of these poisons are acclumative, i.e. they lie in fatty tissues and you do not really notice the effects until the toxicity reaches a certain level in the body. In some other cases, there is no cure and/or any damage done is irreversible. Just in case you were wondering:
Roadside foods can contain:
This is absorbed through soft fruit skins: interferes with the normal formation of red blood cells by inhibiting important enzymes, damages red blood cell membranes and interferes with cell metabolism. :- anaemia, brain damage, cancer, the effects of lead is now thought to increase with age.
Benzene: is a hyro-carbon that is absorbed through leaves and bark: has a suppressive effect on bone marrow and impairs the development of red blood cells. Exposure to the chemical may result in cytopenia (total bone marrow loss).
Polycyclic hydrocarbons from partially unburnt fuel (there are many of them) are absorbed by different parts of the plants and are also thought to be carcinogenic.
Finally, it has only recently been shown that very small particles can have a really huge impact on materials they interact with, as an example, gold is a stable element and will not react with many other chemicals, when made as small particles however, it reacts with everything! It can be therefore devastating if it gets into the body.
The point here is that injestion is the easiest way to get these particles into the body, they can then be absorbed quickly and easily through the gut, however, there is very little research or information on this at present.
The European Commission is worried about the possible effects of these and other pollutants, i.e. from diesel exhausts, which produce a carbon-nanoparticles, that it has started projects to examine the effects of these materials on human health (e.g. http://www.impart-nanotox.org/, and http://www.cpa.ed.ac.uk/news/research/31/4.html).
There are also traces of other heavy metals in car exhausts, and from the materials used to build the road in the first place, for an interesting article on the effects on the human body have a look here: http://chge.med.harvard.edu/education/course/toxic/heavy/documents/mccally.pdf
Hope that helps
There's a big green belt with my old school on it directly behind my house.. and there are sooo many elderberry trees there. Most of them look pretty nice and healthy, although alot of them grow near a manky beck, I wouldn't touch those ones. But the other ones should be fine, yes? :confused:
Sounds okay to me. As the others have mentioned its industrial pollution you need to be on guard against (ie roadside fruits, although there are oodles of soft fruit fields right next to busy roads :eek: ).
I've picked plenty of roadside berries in country lanes though. This type of road has the occasional car pass by every ten or fifteen minutes, any fumes that might get on the berries are pretty negligible in my opinion.
There are so many elderberries up for grabs that it really isn't necessary to pick them in a polluted location.
I'll be honest and say that I don't like elderberries and neither do my family. I've tried making all kinds of things with them because they are so abundant and easy to pick but I've stopped bothering.
Don't be tempted to touch anything on a roadside, or even near a road,
This is fine but how "near" a road do they have to be to be considered dangerous?
At what distance are they considered safe?
Sorry for the delay, been away for a bit. The easy answer is that exhaust fumes decrease extremely rapidly away from the car and therefore only those foods found directly next to a road should be avoided. As an aside, there is significantly smaller amounts of heavy metals found inside the fruits/leaves/bark etc. higher levels are found on the surface so washing dramatically improves the safety of the food (you should do this anyway as you have no idea what a particular person has sprayed nearby). Obviously increase the distance for heavily used roads! I would not touch anything within 100m of a main motorway, partially due to the amount of crap the councils/highway agencies pour in the sides to get rid of overgrowth and during road maintanance. However, I would have no problem eating something 5m from a little used country road, I would just not eat large amounts from any particular site anyway.
I've read somewhere that the contaminants are washed into the soil, then get taken up by the plants internally, as well as settling on the leaves. So a bit of rain doesn't make it safe, apparently.
PS. Just noticed greg's reply - he knows a lot more than I do :)
oh i have 2 huge elderberry trees in my garden :) normally make wine with them when i get time
It is a worry when you see large fields of various crops growing for mile after mile either side of a motorway then isn't it!!! :eek:
Compared to the sort of chemicals they apply directly to those crops, I'm not sure that vehicle pollution is that big a worry... Organophosphate pesticides, yum. ;)