At Home in Nature

  (Agate, Colorado)
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Organic Act and Cancer rate cover-up

With the poor farming practices of many conventional farmers, soil nutrients are consumed by plants and deposited in edible portions, harvested and removed from the field.  Inadequate tillage and abundant chemicals prevent nutrients from being redeposited in the field.  The subsequent crop is less nutritious than the previous, and eventually produce has little nutrition.  

 

This phenomenon of agricultural-based malnutrition was described by the physician Dr. Mark Hyman, who has written many books on his miraculous curing of disease through supplementary nutrition (one of his more recent titles is The Ultramind Solution, 2008): he discovered much disease today is caused by people not getting enough nutrition, even when consuming quantities of fruits and vegetables.  Dr. Mark Hyman suggests that, in addition to an antitoxic diet, food be eaten fresh from the field, raw (if possible) and in wild / natural soil (as is developed by Tullian methods).  Short of that, consumers should supplement their diet with essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.

 

Besides being void of nutrients, many foods are highly toxic from the poisonous herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers many other farmers apply to the field. 

 

Even while the question of what residual chemicals are actually within the foods consumed by the public is debated, there is a strong argument that there are chemical residues on foods but that they are simply not harmful.  Even while it is debated whether those residues are harmful, there is a strong argument that there is no safe minimum quantity of those chemicals because they are so easily stored in the body until they gain a toxic threshold.  Even while it is debated whether chemicals can reach a toxic threshold in the body, those who would desire their food to be free of such chemicals in the first place are derided as being fanatical or illogical.

 

Yet it remains a basic right – whether there are any chemical residues, whether those residues are harmful in any minute quantity – to have the choice of chemical-free food.  And, at the same time, it is an impossibility.

 

The diffusion of chemicals from one field to another occurs easily.  All chemicals have the potential to leach, or wash out, from the soil.  When they leach, they enter into the groundwater, well water, or other water systems such as rivers.  Chemicals have different rates of leaching, some are better at leaching than others.  Besides leaching, many chemicals are applied through vapors or dust that travels by the wind.

 

Drift refers to the unplanned and uncontrollable movement of chemicals away from the application area through the air when applied as a spray.   Most chemicals are applied as sprays because it is easily mechanized and easy to administer.  This may be done by spraying close to the ground or from an airplane.  When the spray is applied, it will be carried by the air currents to areas other than the intended area.   It then settles on other plants, in the water, or around people. 

 

Drift is usually impossible to see, since the particles carried through the air are too small for the human eye to discern.  Chemicals can drift more than 50 miles away (Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA).  Secondhand Pesticides: Airborne Pesticide Drift)!  While the chemical may become too diffuse to have much effect, this is not necessarily the case: some toxins are very potent even in small quantities.  Drift can, and does, have important and dangerous effects on the environment.

 

What does not drift or leach can remain in the soil a very long time, providing small quantities of poison to future crops – sometimes for decades to come.

 

And then there are the chemicals which are not applied by farmers at all, but are fallout from industrial practices in nearby (or faraway) cities, nuclear industry practices, nuclear bomb tests and the mining of petroleum and other minerals.  Some mining practices pollute groundwater supplies, which are then applied in agricultural and culinary uses.

 

This combination of factors results in an inability for a person to obtain food without chemicals.  Rachel Carson in Silent Spring discusses this in greater depth and the subject has already been explored in this book, but it suffices to say that it is easy to obtain critical quantities of poison over the course of a lifetime (or even a few years – or less) by eating food: slowly, surely, the small quantities of poison build up in the body until they become problematic: “We know that even single exposures to these chemicals, if the amount is large enough, can precipitate acute poisoning.  But this is not the major problem.  The sudden illness or death of farmers, spraymen, pilots, and others exposed to appreciable quantities of pesticides are tragic and should not occur.  For the population as a whole, we must be more concerned with the delayed effects of absorbing small amounts of the pesticides that invisibly contaminate our world.”  The dangerous bioaccumulation that Carson describes killing animals that eat poisoned plants and that eat animals that ate poisoned plants applies to people, too.  On this, Dr. Mark Hyman agrees.

 

While the USDA Organic Act was designed, to some extent, to secure this right of consumers to have chemical free foods, farmers are allowed to use so many synthetic and organic chemicals – some of which are highly toxic – that they need not actually alter their farming practices greatly to gain or retain “Organic” certification (Organic Lies, Mary Choate 2006).  Yet, even if a farm were to not use any chemicals, the overwhelming presence of them in the environment would still present a danger to the consumer.

 

Cancer is a likely result of this continual, low-dose chemical poisoning.  In 1900, malignant growths (including lymphatic and blood-forming tissues) accounted for 4% of the deaths (Carson).  The Office of Vital Statistics for July 1959 reports that malignant growths (including lymphatic and blood-forming tissues) accounted for 15% of the deaths in 1958 (Carson).  The United States Centers for Disease Control reports that, averaged between 2001 and 2005 there was a death rate of 189.8 per 100,000 people (http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/DCPC_INCA/ DCPC_INCA.aspx), but as cancer remains the leading and second-leading cause of death (CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, http://www.cdc.gov/NCHS/ data/nvsr/nvsr57/nvsr57_14.pdf), this significant decline reflects more on the overall declining death rate and the wider availability and diversity of treatment options for cancer. 

 

Yet, more disturbingly, this decline may also be due to misreporting of data.  the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in their article Are deaths within 1 month of cancer-directed surgery attributed to cancer? (Janice Hopkins Tanne.  vol. 94 pg. 1066: http://www.vaoutcomes.org/papers/ Cancer_Deaths.pdf) describes how many of those who die while undergoing treatment for cancer are not reported to have died from Cancer: “Among patients with only one cancer, there were 4135 deaths within 1 month of diagnosis and cancer-directed surgery for the 19 solid tumors. Of these deaths, 1707 (41%) were attributed to something other than the coded cancer. There was considerable variation in the pattern of attribution among the 19 tumors (Table 1). The proportion not attributed to the coded cancer ranged from 13% for cervical cancer to 81% for laryngeal cancer. Selected intermediate values include 25% for esophageal cancer, 34% for lung cancer, 42% for colorectal cancer, 59% for breast cancer, and 75% for prostate cancer.”

 

Doctors Michael J Thun, and Phyllis A Wingo, in their article Cancer Epidemiology report that “the magnitude of the human and economic costs of cancer in the United States is enormous. At current rates, invasive cancer will be diagnosed in approximately 1 of every 2 American men and 1 in 3 women in their lifetimes. Cancer afflicts 2 out of every 3 families” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/bookshelf/br.fcgi?book=cmed&part=A5081).

 

The CDC reports that there was between 2001 and 2005 an average national incidence rate of 473.4 per 100,000 people.  This 0.4734% rate, with an average life expectancy hovering at about 70 years for most Americans, lends credence to Thun and Wingo’s suggestion that 42% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer.  This represents perhaps a 4-fold increase since the turn of the 20th Century, but with such inaccurate data on cancer rates, it is hard to measure. 

 

Other effects of gradual chemical poisoning are difficult to measure: the subtle ways in which the poisons disrupt cellular and organ function in a body can result in any number of diseases.  Predisposition to disease becomes the disease itself, and while it is possible that a person may have become sick with a disease anyway, proving that gradual chemical poisoning is responsible is nearly impossible: a drunkard may fall over regardless of what happens around them, and proving that they were pushed over is difficult.  But this is no reason to tip the drunk: there is no need for people to expose themselves to the danger and risk falling over the brink.

 

Dr. Hyman reports that the average American eats many pounds of chemicals every year, but exposure without eating food is not difficult, considering how easy it is to absorb the chemicals through your skin, and how easily they leach and drift.  Clothing readily absorbs many chemicals, and can hold it until it is taken in by your skin.  This is especially true of the organophosphates.

 

The worst result of many of these poisons is that they increase the need for vitamins, minerals, protein and energy while simultaneously reducing the body’s ability to gain them from food.  A person can suffer from severe malnutrition and be eating all the “right” foods.

When it is considered that the use of these chemicals increases the rate of disease (by encouraging mosquito and other insect-borne disease), decreases nutrition in food and otherwise makes the environment less wholesome to humans, the full implications of the disaster are begun to be understood. 

 

Dr. John Kellogg developed the first understandings of how the body poisons itself through autointoxication, and prescribed a diet low in protein, high in fiber, rich in fruits and vegetables and balanced in protein to cure the disorder.  However, when the food itself is toxic, or when the body is stressed through severe infection, additional support is required and Kellogg’s basic and fundamental approach is insufficient.  Fortunately, Dr. Mark Hyman developed an improvement to the antitoxic diet that is largely effective.

 

When a human is infected by microorganisms or has been exposed to toxins, it is necessary to support their bodies beyond a normal, healthy, antitoxic diet as they detoxify the pollution in their tissues and blood.  While fortified water (as discussed in the chapter on Animal Husbandry – a combination of water, sugar, balanced protein and balanced vitamins and minerals) is a good beginning, specific supplementation will assist the body further.

 

Three herbs, in particular, are excellent for this.  The cranberry fruit supports kidney function by stimulating the kidney to work harder.  Other diuretics function similarly, but in America, the cranberry is widely available and affordable.  The thistle (especially the milk thistle) supports liver function in a similar way: it provides the necessary chemicals required for the liver to function so that less energy is required to manufacture precursors to those many enzymes that the liver produces and more enzymes are produced.  Kelp supports the endocrine system by similarly “feeding” it.

 

Specifically, Dr. Mark Hyman and others suggest that the human should consider supplementing

 

·         Cranberry, Thistle and Kelp

·         Vitamin B-12 (which supports every cell in the body, especially affecting the DNA synthesis and regulation but also fatty acid synthesis and energy production. It also helps greatly with muscle growth and development.  This should be administered under the tongue or otherways that avoid digestion.)

·         Vitamin C (while manufactured by most animals, humans, many apes, many monkeys, many tarsiers, all bats and a few other animals rely on external sources of Vitamin C.  Most foods have quantities of Vitamin C, especially vegetables and fruits.  It is used in many ways in the body, both as an antioxidant and a prooxidant, almost always as an antitoxin.  Notably, it functions against uric acid and other toxins that are byproducts of human meat digestion, though not completely enough to eliminate the dangers of dietary meat, nor does it act upon the dangers of high protein content in the gut.  Cooking Vitamin C destroys it, and under normal cooking conditions 60% or more of the Vitamin C is destroyed).  The human body requires about 4 grams of Vitamin C during the day.

·         Calcium Citrate (which is more readily absorbed and used than other forms of Calcium)

·         Choline (a kind of B vitamin necessary for cellular structural integrity and signaling, neurotransmission, and as a source for methyl groups via its metabolite, trimethylglycine).  It is especially effective against organophosphates.

·         Inositol (which is used throughout the body in insulin signal transduction, cytoskeleton assembly, nerve guidance, intracellular calcium (Ca2+) concentration control, cell membrane maintenance, serotonin activity modulation, breakdown of fats and reducing blood cholesterol, and gene expression and more).

·         Magnesium (which functions as a laxative, reducing the risks of reabsorption through the gut of toxins eliminated through it.  It also functions in other important ways, but this is the chief benefit of magnesium in the detoxifying supplemental diet).

·         Omega 3, Omega 6,  and Omega 9 (“Essential”) Fatty Acids (this is easily obtained through flax seed oil, or through most seeds and nuts and grass-fed bird eggs.  Omega Fatty Acids are used throughout the body, but especially in neural tissues muscle tissues).

·         A general multivitamin

 

Some poisons require specific antitoxins and a Doctor should be consulted at all times during detoxification.  Yet it is a general rule that poisons, whether natural or synthetic, both increase the need of a body for vitamins and minerals while decreasing the ability of the body to use what vitamins and minerals are available by either directly reacting with the vitamins and minerals or by inhibiting their uptake and use.

 

Some welcome regulation by the US Government

On May 26th, "Health Day" reported in their "Many Supplements Said to Contain Toxins, Make False Health Claims" that many of the herbal supplements sold on the market are dangerous or ineffective. 

The article, reprinted by Yahoo! news, should be required reading for anyone considering buying premade supplements rather than purchasing the herbs from a CSA or growing the herbs themselves. 

You can see the entire article HERE, but we have reprinted much of it below.

- WEDNESDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- A Congressional investigation of dietary herbal supplements has found trace amounts of lead, mercury and other heavy metals in nearly all products tested, plus myriad illegal health claims made by supplement manufacturers, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The levels of heavy metal contaminants did not exceed established limits, but investigators also discovered troubling and possibly unacceptable levels of pesticide residue in 16 of 40 supplements, the newspaper said.

 

One ginkgo biloba product had labeling claiming it could treat Alzheimer's disease (no effective treatment yet exists), while a product containing ginseng asserted that it can prevent both diabetes and cancer, the report said.

 

Steve Mister, president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group that represents the dietary supplement industry, said it was not surprising that herbal supplements contained trace amounts of heavy metals, because they are routinely found in soil and plants. "I dont think this should be of concern to consumers," he told the Times.

 

The report findings were to be presented to the Senate on Wednesday, two weeks before discussion begins on a major food safety bill that will likely place more controls on food manufacturers, the Times said. The newspaper said it was given the report in advance of the Senate hearing.

 

How tough the bill will be on supplement makers has been the subject of much lobbying, but the Times noted that some Congressional staff members doubt manufacturers will find it too burdensome.

 

At least nine misleading health claims were noted in the report, which was prepared by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). These claims included assurances that the products could cure diseases, such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and cancer, investigators said. In one instance, a salesperson claimed that a garlic supplement could replace blood pressure drugs, the Times reported.

 

Products that purport to treat or relieve disease must go through strict reviews because they are considered drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

 

The oversight of supplements has improved in recent years, said Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin), who will preside over Wednesday's hearing. However, the FDA needs the authority and tools to ensure that dietary supplements are as safe and effective as is widely perceived by the Americans who take them, he told the Times.

 

One witness scheduled to testify, Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com, said supplements with too little of the indicated ingredients and those contaminated with heavy metals are the major problems. In testing more than 2,000 dietary supplements from some 300 manufacturers, his lab has found that one in four has quality problems, the Times said.

 

According to the newspaper's account, the proposed food safety bill could require that supplement manufacturers register annually with the FDA and permit the agency to recall potentially dangerous supplements.

 

It's estimated that half of adult Americans take vitamin supplements regularly, and about a quarter take herbal supplements at least occasionally. Annual sales are about $25 billion a year, the Times said.

 
 

Violet soup and violet salad

What to do with those delicious violets?  Try soup and salad!

 

Violet Pineapple Soup

Recipe from Valentine Floral Creations, 2009.  http://www.valentine.gr

Serves 6

Ingredients

4 cups pineapple juice

3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

3 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

2 cups strawberries or raspberries, sliced

1 cup diced orange sections or drained canned mandarin oranges

2 tablespoons orange liqueur

1/2 cup fresh violets

Sour cream

Instructions

Combine pineapple juice and tapioca, bring to a boil. Remove from heat adding sugar and lemon peel. Cool to room temp. Add fruit, liqueur, and violets. Chill, before serving, add dollop sour cream to each bowl and garnish with a violet.

 

Violet-Mint Salad

Recipe from Prodigal Garden. http://www.prodigalgardens.info

Ingredients

2 cups violet leaves, cut into thin ribbons

1 carrot, grated

1 cup mint leaves, chopped fine or minced in food processor

1 cup dried fruit (choice of raisins, dates, craisins, currants, apricot)

1 cup walnuts

1 cup violet blossoms

Dressing: Creamy Violet Dressing is recommended (See entry for Speedwell, and substitute violets for speedwell)

Instructions

Toss everything together and top with your favorite dressing.

 

What's ready now?

What a springtime!  The warmer weather is coming, but it is still delightfully cool!  Everyone seems to be enjoying this fine weather.  We have been enjoying this fine food!  What a feast, and to share it with friends is indeed wonderful!

We've got some great recipes on our next blog coming right up.  Until then, here's what you can enjoy this week!

* = Medicinal # = Edible @ = Extra tasty this week (peak of season)!

What's different from last week...

#@ Violets/Pansy flowers and leaves (refreshing, colorful, delicious!)

#@ Marigold flowers

*#@ Alfalfa leaves (quite good on everything!)

*#@ Poplar - NEW LEAVES! bark, buds and flowers (great natural aspirin, or when cooked, delicious non-medicinal vegetable)

*#@ Willow - NEW LEAVES! bark, buds and flowers (great natural aspirin, or when cooked, delicious non-medicinal vegetable)

#* Pine - NEW LEAVES! needles and bark (delicious when roasted)

*#@ Dandelion - NEW SEEDS! roots, leaves, flowers, flowerbuds - one of our favorites!

What else is available this week...

*#@ Prickly lettuce - one of our favorites!

*#@ Thistle (excellent support for liver)

#@ Wild onion (limited quantity - order early)

# Salsify roots

#* Snap dragon leaves

# Tulip flowers

# Apple flowers (delicious)

# Cherry flowers (delicious) (nearly out of season - limited quantity)

#@ Lilac flowers (delicious)

#@ Honeysuckle flowers (delicious)

# Filaree

* Catmint (also known as Catnip)

#* Shrubby cinquefoil leaves

#*@ Fourwinged saltbrush - seeds (great in pinole)

#@ Cattail shoots and rhizomes (these shoots are one of our favorites)

# Elm seeds (green)

#@ Henbit

#@ Lambsquarter (always sells out quickly - order early)

#@ Yellow dock - leaves and seeds

* Juniper berries (excellent antiseptic and antibiotic)

*#@ Mallow leaves

*#@ Yellow clover leaves

*#@ White and red clover leaves (one of our favorites)

#@ Linden leaves (one of our favorites)

* Vinca

MAY WE RECOMMEND? Ask us to make a balanced menu (with recipes) for your family to enjoy!

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Turning over a new leaf

Mmmm!  Today we had our first evergreen and poplar leaves of the season!  The evergreen leaves were enjoyed with breakfast; the poplar leaves were given to two different friends in need whose doctors are allowing them to writhe in agony. 

One of our friends broke her fingers and they are swollen and painful - the pain medicine prescribed was taken orally and though her problem was on just a part of her body, she had to medicate her whole body!  Binding a poultice of the leaves and ground up bark of poplar and willow on her fingers with some bandaids makes better sense.  Our other friend's very arthritic neck found some relief with a poultice as well, though he did not want to bind it: he rubbed the powderized poplar and willow and found relief.

Leaves are less medicinal than bark, but more easily powderize without resorting to a coffee grinder.  Just dry out the leaves and crush them!  We make extra for ourselves in spring with the very powerful young leaves so that in the summer, autumn and winter we are never without.

 
 

What a nice walk!

What a nice walk we had today!  Though there was the promise of rain (and rain walks are, indeed, a charming and beautiful adventure), the skies cleared unexpectedly and our nature walk / educational walking tour of the wild edible and medicinal plants of the Greenwood Village and Cherry Creek Reservoir area was much drier than expected!

We learned where you are legally allowed to harvest foods and medicines, how to correctly identify them using botanical science (thereby avoiding the "assisted suicide" of the inferior identification guides out there), and even learned how to cook them and prepare them for use.  We discussed common sicknesses and injuries, and uncommon ones too.  Our conversations drifted easily from the avant guarde of culinary arts to the ancient and time-tested recipes enjoyed by gourmands the world over, from thence to the historical importance of plants and the way that they have shaped and have been shaped by society.  Ecology, geology, and blue herons all easily relate to that magnificent science of botany! 

Perhaps, though, it was the friendships that developed in talking about how people use plants and rely on them, and how easily people can rely on nature that reminded us most of how much we all have in common and rekindled our joy of exploring our world through botany.

Whether it was learning that mallow can be used as a thickener in soups or how to make an aspirin-like cream to soothe the aches of age and injury, or the biochemical reasons why thistles are effective liver support and why you should never ever eat cherry leaves and bark, digressions into the differences between Korean and American cooking or how plants green deserts into forests and why people hate trees...we will always cherish the new friends we made today, and the excellent conversations we shared.

In other good news, there were absolutely no fatalities.  That brings our new total of deaths during tours to... well, it's still zero.  Injuries are holding steady also at none.  This goes to show that by botanically identifying plants before eating them really cuts down on the accidental suicides, and encourages experimentation that may lead to improved diet and culinary pleasure.

Come on by for our next walk - let us know by email or phone that you'd like to be kept aware of when and where it is.  Or ask us to schedule a free walk near you!  We're glad to oblige.

 
 

Thistles for plate and medicine cabinet - Thistle Soup

The thistle is an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character as well as of birth, for the wounding or provocation of a thistle yields punishment. For this reason the thistle is the symbol of the Order of the Thistle, a high chivalric order of Scotland - though another story to explain this is that a bare foot Viking attacker stepped on one at night and cried out, so alerting the defenders of a Scottish castle.  The thistle is not of great repute elsewhere, however: Shakespeare classes "rough Thistles" with 'hateful Docks" and, in the Bible, thistles are one of the afflictions Adam and Eve are cursed by when they are cast out from Eden.  It is a noxious weed in many nations, and penalties fall on landowners who do not eradicate them, and governments eradicate thistle from the roadsides. 

It is very medicinal.  Milk Thistle was used to strengthen the liver the world over, and in modern times has been shown in scientific tests to be effective for many health concerns.  The active chemical in thistle seems to be silymarin, but the exact way that silymarin works in the body is only beginning to be understood, however, it seems to take the place of many of the enzymes and other chemicals produced by the liver, thus relieving its burden somewhat as it detoxifies the body, allowing the body's energy to be distributed elsewhere.  Holy thistle is mentioned in all the treatises on the Plague, and especially by Thomas Brasbridge, who in 1578 published his Poore Man's Jewell, that is to say, a Treatise of the Pestilence. The distilled leaves, he says "helpeth the hart...expelleth all poyson taken in at the mouth and other corruption that doth hurt and annoye the hart...the juice of it is outwardly applied to the bodie...therefore I counsell all that have Gardens to nourish it, that they may have it always to their own use, and the use of their neighbours that lacke it."  Culpepper declared that a decoction of thistle in wine "being drank expels superfluous melancholy out of the body and makes a man as merry as a cricket."  The Emperor Charlemagne, when his Army was afflicted by a great disease that killed thousands of his men, prayed earnestly to God, and in his sleep there appeared to him an angel who shot an arrow from a crossbow, telling him to mark the plant upon which it fell, for with that plant (a thistle) he might cure his army of the pestilence. 

Fiddlehead Fern and Thistle Soup

Recipe modified from Mignonne.  http://nativefood.blogspot.com

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 cups fiddleheads, fresh and cleaned

2 cups thistle leaves, stems, or flower stalks

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

1 small onion, minced

2 cups soup stock

2 cups milk or cream

Lime zest

Salt and pepper to taste

Nutmeg

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the fiddleheads and thistles, return to a boil and cook until they are almost tender and turn pale green, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Coarsely chop and reserve. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the fiddleheads, thistles and soup stock. Stir, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a gentle boil. Cover and cook until the fiddleheads and thistles are thoroughly tender, about 5 minutes. Add the milk, reduce the heat to medium, and heat until nearly boiling. Do not let the soup boil or the milk will curdle. Stir in the lime zest and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the soup into four bowls, garnish with nutmeg and serve immediately.

 

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How best to enjoy wild foods

One of the best ways to appreciate the changing of the seasons is to get a CSA membership and, as the parade of flavors passes by your plate, even a casual observer can take notice that nature provides exactly what we're hungry for when we're hungry for it.

Foods rich in protein, vitamins and minerals in the spring, cool juicy treats in the summer and fatty and starchy foods in the autumn.  Winter's austere love can be found any time of year (winter foods are hardly seasonal, whether it is the preserved berries or the delicious tree barks), but (isn't it funny?) we only notice it when we need it most.

Yet it is far better to watch the new pine needles, soft and tender, emerge from their paper tents and grow hardened as they mature; to see how Winter's austere love warms into Spring's soft hopes.  To taste summer is far different from witnessing the daughter of Winter maturing into Summer, to see her hopes fruit in the birth of her son autumn.  To rest yourself at the banquet with your fellow creatures surrounding you, to join in the happy songs of the birds and the insects as they give thanks for another year's bounty is easier when you are out of doors.

To camp outdoors! 

One of the first things we advise to our customers (whether they subscribe or buy just a single box) who want to know how to best enjoy the food we bring them is to camp outdoors.  Whether it is on your balcony or in your backyard, find yourself at home in nature!  Men, women and children are not meant to lock themselves away from the world inside castles of stone or stockades of wood.  Let down your defenses and you will find what good friends you have waiting outside!

Then, bring your kitchen outdoors, too.  Your barbeque, your campstove, a small fire pit - this is how food (wild or domestic) is meant to be prepared.  Under the stars, sun and clouds food cooks better and tastes better.  Whether you are cooking your pinole or your pasta, your fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, teas, nuts... when you hear the breeze in the trees above you or the coyote in the distance, the meadowlark and robin encourage you to sing along while you cook.  And everyone knows that singing makes food taste better.

Then, laying in your tent or in your sleeping bag in the open, the gentle sounds of the night singing stories of the primordial childhood of your noble species, stories about your fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts, cousins distantly related across distant seas, you remember the sea, you remember the mountains, you remember your home and look about you - you really will! - and see you are still there.

No matter how chaotic life becomes, the constancy of nature's love reminds us we are at home, the joy in the company of our fellow creatures reminds us we are at home.  No longer prisoners in our castles and stockades, we work harder at school and our places of business because our bodies are filled by good food and our hearts are filled by good hope - the hope that never disappoints. 

If you keep an animal in an environment that it is alien to, if you cage it or take it away from its natural environment, it will have stress.  A camping lifestyle is for everyone.  Whether you like a yurt, an outfitter's tent, a backpacker's tent, a tipi or just to sleep out under the stars, there is a place in your heart that needs the campfire and evening song, that will not be satisfied by television or electric stovetop burners, but thirsts for the cool, clear draughts that has satisfied humanity for ages.  Can't you feel it?

Don't ignore it.  Beneath it, there is a place in your gut that hungers for wild foods and will accept nothing else.  Feed your hunger, slake your thirst!  Give some of our wild foods a FREE try today!

 
 

Dandelion Blossom Syrup AND! Cream of Dandelion Soup

Dandelion Blossom Syrup 

Recipe from Prodigal Garden. http://www.prodigalgardens.info

Makes just over 1 pint (2 cups)

Ingredients

1 quart (4 cups) dandelion flowers

1 quart (4 cups) water

4 cups sugar

1/2 lemon or orange, entire fruit including peel, chopped (optional)

Instructions

This is a traditional recipe passed down from the old world Europeans.  It can be used in place of honey in most recipes.

Put blossoms and water in a pot. Bring just to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and let sit overnight. 

The next day, strain and press liquid out of spent flowers.  Add sugar and sliced citrus and heat slowly, stirring now and again, for several hours or until reduced to a thick, honey-like syrup.  Can in half-pint or 1 pint jars. 

This recipe can be doubled (or more!).

 

Cream of Dandelion Soup

Recipe from Prodigal Garden. http://www.prodigalgardens.info

Ingredients

 4 cups dandelion leaves, chopped

2 cups dandelion flower petals

2 cups dandelion buds

1 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1 cup wild leeks or onions, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups water

2 cups half-and-half or heavy cream

2 teaspoons salt

Instructions

Gently boil dandelion leaves in 6 cups water.  Pour off bitter water.  Boil gently a second time, pour off bitter water.

In a heavy-bottom soup pot, sauté wild leeks and garlic in butter or olive oil until tender.  Add 4 cups water.  Add dandelion leaves, flower petals, buds, and salt.  Simmer gently 45 minutes or so.  Add cream and simmer a few minutes more.

Garnish with flower petals.

Raw Cattail Soup

Raw Cattail Soup

Recipe modified from Steve Brill. http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups almonds

10 cups water, or as needed

2 cups thinly sliced cattail shoots (about 30 shoots)

1/4 cup fresh spearmint leaves or other mint leaves, finely chopped

Juice from half a lemon

Instructions

Cover the almonds with water and soak, refrigerated, 6 hours to overnight.

Puree the soaked almonds, about 2 cups at a time, with about 3 cups of the water at a time in a blender until all the almonds have been pureed.  Pour the almond-water puree into a colander lined with cheesecloth or thin nylon fabric over a bowl. Twist the top of the cloth and squeeze the remaining water. Discard the pulp.

Mix the remaining ingredients with the almond milk. Serve chilled.

 

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Something's new under the sun! Classics are still there for you, too

This week, we have some great stuff - something for everyone!  Like classics?  While Dandelions are now becoming common even in standard farms, they're still better when they're harvested in a natural environment.  Want to try something new?  Brand new?  Never seen the sun before?  Go for the linden leaves and cattails.  And don't forget: it's still the best time of the year to prepare your amazing aspirin-like balm of gilead with poplar and willow buds.  We'll teach you how!

We've got some great recipes on our next blog coming right up.  Until then, here's what you can enjoy this week!

* = Medicinal # = Edible @ = Extra tasty this week (peak of season)!

What is available this week...

*#@ Dandelion - roots, leaves, flowers, flowerbuds - one of our favorites!

*#@ Prickly lettuce - one of our favorites!

*#@ Thistle (excellent support for liver)

#@ Wild onion (limited quantity - order early)

# Salsify roots

#* Snap dragon leaves

# Tulip flowers

# Apple flowers (delicious)

# Cherry flowers (delicious)

# Plum flowers (nearly out of season - limited quantity) (delicious)

#@ Lilac flowers (delicious)

#@ Honeysuckle flowers (delicious)

# Filaree

* Catmint (also known as Catnip)

#* Shrubby cinquefoil leaves

#*@ Fourwinged saltbrush - seeds (great in pinole)

#@ Cattail shoots and rhizomes (these shoots are one of our favorites)

*#@ Poplar - bark, buds and flowers (great natural aspirin, or when cooked, delicious non-medicinal vegetable)

*#@ Willow - bark, buds and flowers (great natural aspirin, or when cooked, delicious non-medicinal vegetable)

# Elm seeds (green)

#@ Henbit

#@ Lambsquarter (always sells out quickly - order early)

#* Pine - needles and bark (delicious when roasted)

#@ Yellow dock - leaves and seeds

* Juniper berries (excellent antiseptic and antibiotic)

*#@ Mallow leaves

*#@ Yellow clover leaves

*#@ White and red clover leaves (one of our favorites)

#@ Linden leaves (one of our favorites)

* Vinca

MAY WE RECOMMEND? Ask us to make a balanced menu (with recipes) for your family to enjoy!

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Are you ready for THIS?

Louis Pasteur said that fortune only favors the prepared mind and some of the foods and medicines and other useful things that we harvest and grow might take some preparation.  Not only in the kitchen, but in your mind.  It may seem strange at first to eat these things or rely on them for your health or to improve your quality of life... and it is, quite frankly, a WILD thing to think, that nature might provide you everything you need at your time of need!  So prepare yourself and come with us, our friends, and we'll visit some strange but worthwhile places together so you will feel more "at home in nature!"

Are you ready for THIS?

Louis Pasteur said that fortune only favors the prepared mind and some of the foods and medicines and other useful things that we harvest and grow might take some preparation.  Not only in the kitchen, but in your mind.  It may seem strange at first to eat these things or rely on them for your health or to improve your quality of life... and it is, quite frankly, a WILD thing to think, that nature might provide you everything you need at your time of need!  So prepare yourself and come with us, our friends, and we'll visit some strange but worthwhile places together so you will feel more "at home in nature!"

 
 
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