This is the poisonous “Pokeweed”.
My Grandmother, Mom, and North Carolina family used Poke to cook “Poke Salad”. In the Spring, Pokeweed grew wild in yards, fields, near creek banks, and springs. They would gather it before it sprouted berries, clean it, boil it and pour the water off of it. Then they would cook it in a pan with fatback grease, and onions. The final step in cooking Poke salad was to break a couple of eggs in it, and cook it until the eggs were done… Let me tell you, it was so good! Poke salad & cornbread was like a gourmet dish to us. To this day, some of my North Carolina cousins still cook Poke salad using Pokeweed that grow wild on their land. I never cooked Poke salad, though. Firstly, because I knew it was poisonous. Secondly, because I only trusted my Grandmother, Mom, Aunts, and family Elders to cook it. It amazes me, to this day, how my Southern family and extended family, expertly Foraged for food. In addition to growing gardens, raising chickens, pigs, cows, and fishing in nearby rivers and creeks…for their daily bread. This was their idea of a grocery store back in the day, and whether they had money to purchase food or not, they were never without food. They knew how to “live off the land”. Gathering and growing their own food was a combination of necessity, custom, and tradition. It was a way of life for them that they continued, even when they did not have to. I truly believe that my interest in wild plant identification, medicinal plants & herbs, and learning how to forage the land for food is a gift from my Ancestors that is inherently within me.