Spotted for sale at the Harvard Square/Charles Hotel farmer's market on Fridays and Sundays: purslane. That's right, purslane for four bucks a pound. Could this be another twist on the old story line of country rubes being taken in by erudite urbanites? In this version, clever farmers milk their lettered city customers eager to pay top dollar for locally grown, organic produce.
Purslane: one of the most common of weeds (which is what we call all plants for which we don't know the name and have lost track of the use), it flourishes everywhere here in the city. It flourishes everywhere. Gardeners pull it from their cultivated gardens as often as they weed. It pullulates in the cracks and crevices of streets from Dudley to Brattle and anywhere else there's a bit of soil.
Crunchy and high in omega-3 fatty acids, purslane is not only abundant, it is delicious and nutritious. It's also free. While foraging from places where there's lots of vehicular traffic is not a good idea, if the soil in your yard is relatively heavy metal free, give it a taste, at the very least. Thoreau, while at Walden, enjoyed his boiled and salted while others like it raw in salads.
Ultimately, as long as they have buyers, no one can begrudge farmers one penny of what they earn or charge for the fruits of their labors - even if that fruit is just a common plant readily available for the pickin'.