Eat the weeds in your garden – the Durango Herald
Many of us have been excited about the seasonal return of the Farmers’ Market. The fresh quality and variety of offerings are enticing and nutritious.
What if I told you that you can get even fresher, more nutrient-dense food anytime you want for free?
These are what many would call weeds … or a different frame considers them wild foods. Wild foods are in abundance all around us, even in our backyard. Dandelion, mallow, quarter lamb and purslane are just a few. Plantain, clover, mustard, chickweed, and burdock can be found almost anywhere in the wild. Even the “dreaded” thistle can be tamed and turned into a culinary delight.
Have you ever wondered why you pull weeds out of your garden? This is because they preferentially take nutrients from the soil rather than your vegetables. Indeed, they are more resistant than our domesticated plants. They are better at extracting minerals from the earth, so we take them out of the garden for our tomatoes to flourish. Most of the plants that you remove from your garden could actually be brought right into your kitchen rather than your garbage cans. Not only are they rich in nutrients, but they are also very tasty.
Wild foods are inherently pesticide and GMO free. Modern agriculture often uses a system of monoculture which is destructive to the land over time. These products are generally refined, cooked, packaged and transported around the world, far from optimal freshness. When we eat these mineral deficient foods, we tend to overeat because we are not getting the nutrition our body needs. This can lead to chronic disease and the destruction of plant and animal ecosystems.
So many of the underlying health issues that Americans face can be solved with the drugs in these herbs. Rich in chlorophyll and minerals, many of these wild foods help cleanse the liver, strengthen bones, tone muscles, strengthen organ systems, and detoxify the colon. In general, the roots strongly support liver function and the leaves are more specific to kidney health, but each does a bit of both.
To get started, just go to your garden and pick a few dandelion leaves. I bet you also have mallow (or chickweed) somewhere nearby. You can mix these leaves in your salad or add to your favorite smoothie. If you are in the wild, make sure you only harvest what you need and only take a few plants from each area so they can continue to self-populate. An offering of gratitude (a word, a prayer, or a song) as a thank you goes a long way.
When we start to eat the foods that naturally grow around us, we become more connected to the earth and better stewards of the environment. We get the nutrition and medicines inside that support our bones, liver and kidneys. We slow down and realign ourselves with seasonal rhythms that allow us to adapt more gracefully to our changing environment. By honoring our relationship with our plant friends, we create more harmony where all communities thrive.
Special thanks to Katrina Blair and Turtle Lake Refuge for teaching and inspiring me for two decades.
Nicola Dehlinger is a naturopathic doctor at Pura Vida Natural Healthcare in Durango. She can be reached at 426-1684 or at www.puravidahealthcare.com.