Elderly Greek on Social Security Busted for Picking ‘Horta’

Older Greek Fined for Picking Dandelions

John Taris, a 75-year-old retiree was handed a $75 fine for picking dandelions (horta in Greek).

Taris, a Greek-American who lives in the Chicago area with his wife on a $1,500-a-month social security payment isn’t just picking the dandelions for hobby but to provide food for himself and his wife.

When the couple’s food supply was a bit low recently, he volunteered to go pick some to provide a vegetable, writes columnist John Kass in the Chicago Tribune.

Then, he was caught in the act of picking the weeds by a Cook County Forest Preserve cop, and he was issued a $75 ticket. His scheduled court date is July 9.

A spokeswoman for the forest preserve district noted that foraging is prohibited there and called the practice “unsustainable, especially when it’s done for commercial purposes,” the article reports.

“Quite simply, we could see some of these plants disappear over time,” said spokeswoman Karen Vaughan. “It can also have negative impacts on the natural plant and animal communities we’re trying to preserve for the public.”

Picking greens for food, in this case horta, is a cultural thing for Greeks and Greek-Americans. In Greek, horta (χόρτα) literally means “grasses;” that is, green wild-growing things.

These are typically spring foods, enjoyed before the bounty of the summer garden arrives, and can be found in most little village tavernas as well as on every kitchen table.

In the Greek countryside, you will often see men, women, and children picking horta on the roadsides and in public forests, but outside of Greece it seems to be a crime!


  1. He should be horse whipped for this evil act. Killing poor defenceless dandelions. How dare he commit such a blood curdling act of evil? I want this taken to Obama for even greater attention

  2. Dandelions are just about the most pervasive weed, accidentally brought over from Europe by the early settlers, choking countless native american plants. Picking them is actually a public service :-)

    Having said this, yeah, the forest preserve guys can’t go around policing which particular plant someone is picking. So their policy makes sense.

    But a fine? For collecting weeds? STUPID.

  3. On this Independence Day, lets all think back to a time when we used to have Liberty. Happy 4th.

  4. “Quite simply, we could see some of these plants disappear over time” Really? Aren’t these the same weeds everyone is trying to kill in their lawns and gardens? What a moronic statement to make!

  5. I could understand if he were IN the preserve, but the article states that he was only NEAR the preserve. Not to mention, he was picking dandelions … something every person with a lawn treats to kill. All they had to do was look in his container to see they were ‘weeds’ instead of something endangered. Leave the poor guy alone! : )

  6. The US Govt is saying that picking dandelions will harm the eco-system!!!????!!!! Are you funking joking!!!! Whoever said that should get fired right on the spot. People spend millions of dollars to get rid of dandelllions!!!!!

  7. Dandelions are not going anywhere anytime soon – and it states he is doing it for personal consumption, not commercial use – could someone explain to me what is the harm?

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