As many of you already know, our ecosystems are under attack by invasive species of plants and animals. Plants like mustard–garlic and goutweed are slowly taking over our native plants. They are spreading and changing the landscape as well as the fragile interconnections and relationships that make up the biodiversity within these ecosystems.
But you can do your part! Many of these invasive species were brought here as a food source by our fore-parents. Without some of these plants, they might have starved by not knowing what to eat. But with today’s information technology, clear pictures and identification notes can be readily at hand to help ensure the safety and edibility of the weed in front of you. Also, recipes can easily be found for the edible plants, such as mustard-garlic pesto. The next you are having trouble controlling a weed in your garden or forest, look it up. It might just be a tasty green or herbal that the trendy health food stores might be charging over of $100 per kg, like Dandelion Root.
I have personally tasted the seeds of mustard-garlic (boiled with quinoa), salad from dandelions and wood sorrel greens, teas from dandelions roots and flowers, burdock roots stir-fried, coffee from chicory (amazing!), to name a few.
As a safety note, always make sure of the plant’s identification and preparation before consuming. For the most part, a majority of the plants out there are fairly safe to eat, but there are a few plants that are deadly in all parts of the world or at least will give a good “bio-cleanse” for a few days. The plants I listed above generally do not have poisonous look-a-likes, unlike the carrot family; poison hemlock (highly poisonous) and wild carrots / Queen Anne’s Lace (edible) look too close for my comfort.
This link has a few mustard – garlic recipes: http://www.fosc.org/GM-Recipe.htm
We look forward to hearing your comments about the plants and weeds growing in your garden that you have cooked up?
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Happy eating the weeding.
Beyond The POST
It is very interesting that over the last 3 to 4 generations, we have lost our connection to nature. Our lives used to depend on this connection to nature and the landscape. If we did not know about the surrounding plants and animals, where to find them, when the best time to eat them was, we would die of starvation or disease.
What if we could increase our knowledge of the landscape? Would we become more connected with nature, with each other?
Not only does spending more time in nature reduces stress, depression, quicker hospital recoveries, and even reduce ADD/ADHD symptoms, among many other positive healthy “side effects” it could theoretically save your life too. It always pains me to hear that a lost hiker or hunter died of starvation when they were surrounded by so many healthy and extremely nutritious plants.
Our fore-parents knew much about the plants, the trees, the topography, the path of the sun, the moon, and the stars, and the landscape. A skill that is becoming lost in our modern lifestyle. Few people are keeping these skills alive and are harvesting the weeds that grow in urban areas to eat. Most of these plants were brought here by our fore-parents whom settled these lands for their survival. Just like we go to the supermarkets today for a head of lettuce, our fore-parents brought with them plants to grow in their gardens plants like dandelions, lambs-quarter, purslane just to name a few.
As a landscape architect and outdoors person, I have a great interest in expanding my knowledge about the landscape. I am always learning more about how to use the landscape to improve all aspects of our lives such as increasing our fitness, which plants eat for nutrition and/or for health, how each plant fits into their related ecosystems and habitats, how the topography influences the environment and peoples’ movement through it. I am constantly learning and applying my knowledge to my landscape designs.
For more information about health benefits of nature see:
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I appreciate your time in reading this post and look forward to your comments, questions and the tips you have found useful.
Beyond The Post