Yes, you can eat the leaves and shoots in the spring before the plants start turning purple and fruiting. >Poke is a traditional southern Appalachian food. The leaves and stems of young plants can be eaten, but must be cooked by boiling two or more times with the water drained and replaced each time. The leaves taste similar to spinach; the stems, similar to asparagus. A typical recipe is to remove the leaves from the young plant, rinse them in cool water, bring the leaves to a rolling boil in a large pot for about 20 minutes, discard the cooking water, rinse them in cool water, repeat the boiling and the rinsing at least two more times, panfry the leaves in bacon grease for a two minutes, add bacon, and salt and pepper to taste.