Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wellness Wednesday

dandelion metamorphosis
“I learned from my two years’ experience that it would cost incredibly little trouble to obtain one’s necessary food, even in this latitude; that a man may use as simple a diet as the animals, and yet retain health and strength. I have made a satisfactory dinner . . . simply off a dish of purslane … which I gathered in my cornfield, boiled and salted. . . . Yet men have come to such a pass that they frequently starve, not for want of necessaries but for want of luxuries.”
~Henry David Thoreau, Walden Pond

Spring is the time when the gardens start coming to life - and so do the weeds.  But wait!  Some of those so-called "weeds" are plants that are not only edible, but they're packed with nutrients.  Take the common weed purslane.  Purslane is packed with omega 3 fatty acid, melatonin, magnesium, calcium, vitamins A, B, C, and get the idea.  The lowly dandelion?  Its greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  And its roots are high in iron and zinc.  Burdock is another weed that some readers might be familiar with.  Back when I had a goat sick with mastitis and pink eye - and very close to death - she wouldn't eat anything.  I ended up trying to hand feed her.  She wouldn't eat anything until I found a weed whose leaves I thought would look good to eat if I were a goat.  Sure enough, she gobbled them up.  After that, I always called it Maggie's weed, until I learned that it was burdock.  Like dandelion, burdock root is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  In addition to the nutritional benefits of many backyard weeds, some have health benefits specific to certain medical conditions.

Before you run out into your back yard and start munching, I suggest that unless you're extremely sure of what you have, you consult an expert or even take a class on wild foraging.  Not only are many weeds good for you, they're both work-free and cost-free.  A triple bonus!

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