Changing Our Perspective

When is a weed not a weed?  When is a poultry seasoning a tea?  When we change our perspective!

Recently, I have become more aware than ever of what our family is eating.  Not only do I pay attention to what we are eating, I am examining what we are not eating.  And I don’t mean GMO’s, etc.  I mean, what are we missing out on? 

A few months ago, I attended a lecture held at the Guelph Organic Conference, entitled “Ten Essential Herbs – growing, using, and enjoying medicinals”.  It was a great talk, and we learned about medicinal properties of ten fairly common herbs/plants, as well as how to prepare basic tinctures, salves and teas.  I had decided that this was the year I was going to really try to discover more about the native plants we have here, and how I can use them at home.  I was already familiar with one of the plants, Stinging Nettle.  A fellow vendor at the Inglewood Farmers” Market offers dried nettle each year, as a tea.  Aside from the flavour, which I quite like, it is incredibly powerful as a treatment for anemia, arthritis and rheumatism, as well as being a diuretic (among other uses).

Another tea that I quite enjoy is the one that I make from a popular poultry seasoning, sage.  A few years ago, a good friend of mine was offering various homegrown teas and one of them was sage tea.  I was already quite familiar with the use of sage in native ceremonial practices, for cleansing or “smudging”, but had never drank it before.  The taste reminds me of mint, and as a vigorous perennial, it’s nice to be able to grow my own. Each fall, I harvest whatever leaves remain on my plants and dry them, so that I can enjoy sage tea all winter long.  And I always have some when I’m preparing a roasted chicken or turkey!

 

So what else can I add to our family’s diet?  Well, when Ralph and I were choosing some new crops to try out this year, we came across amaranth.  It produces edible seeds, but may also be eaten when young, as a green.  Because it is in the same family as the weed lambsquarters, it tweaked my interest in lambsquarters.  After a bit of research, I learned that a 100 gm. serving of this very common weed is a good source of all 9 essential amino acids, as well as providing 133% of our daily Vitamin C requirements, over twice our Vitamin A requirements, and significant amounts of manganese, calcium, Vitamin B2, and fiber. To boot, is has a mild, juicy flavour.   And to think I was “weeding” it last year and giving it to our chickens!  Well, this year, they’re going to have to share it with us, since some of it is going to end up in our salad bowl!   (In the photo, the lambsquarter is the smaller leaved plant at the top and bottom of the photo, growing among the Napa Cabbage in our greenhouse).

Growing among the Napa Cabbage

Of course, most of us are familiar with what is probably the most prolific springtime “weed”, the dandelion. This cheery plant actually is packed with fabulous nutrition, and has been used in Europe, Asia and the Americas for hundreds of years for medicinal purposes.  My mother made dandelion wine, and we often ate the greens, mixed in with the traditional lettuce options.  I know our chickens sure love them!  Dandelion leaves are great as a springtime detox, since the leaves help cleanse and heal the gallbladder, as well as support kidney function and acting as a diuretic.    I have even seen dandelion leaves/greens offered for sale at our local health food store.  Just remember, if you are picking for eating, please be sure that they have not been contaminated by pesticide use, or possibly by pets.  Always wash well before eating!

 

Foraging for our food is something we no longer have to do, as many of our ancestors did.  However, it can still be a fun, educational activity.  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the adventures of Wendy and Eric Brown, from Maine,  who have recently been spending their Saturdays foraging their local woods for edibles.  You can read about their adventures on Eric’s blog, MooseBoots.   There have also been recent stories  of people foraging in New York’s Central Park.  I think most of us need look no further than our yards or local park areas to discover some great new culinary treats!  All you have to do is….change your perspective 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 responses to this post.

  1. My mother was recently given a bunch of wild leeks that grow in the Township of Tiny area. They were absolutely delicious.

    Reply

    • I picked wild leeks (otherwise known as “ramps”) with a friend a few springs ago….on our knees on a muddy forest floor at the time…but they were very tasty!

      Reply

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