Wisdom of the Weeds | General Wellness | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Wisdom of the Weeds 

Last Updated: 08/13/2013 4:19 pm

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Learning to forage in the wild can be very satisfying emotionally, culturally, and nutritionally.  "I love to grab the harvest basket and go out collecting for a salad," says Dina Falconi.  "A summer salad might include chickweed, violets, wild lettuces, lambs quarter, garlic mustard, wild sedums, purslane, mallow, and dandelion.  Put on a good dressing, and chew it properly, and the nutrients in the wild greens are really powerful.  And wild edibles tend to have a much higher nutritional value than even organically raised produce.  That's what really turned me on to eating natural green."

Then there is the deeper spiritual sustenance it provides.  "You are directly nurturing yourself from the earth," says Falconi with delight and reverence.  "No one is coming between you and your food.  It's your time to be peaceful and directly nurture yourself.  It's your time to go into this very simple, ancient ritual that virtually no one does anymore."

Marie Summerwood, who cooks at the Wise Woman Center, describes cooking in the Wise Woman Tradition.  "It is a sacred recognition of the cycles of our lives, and the will to bring to it what will best nourish.  It uses any food, any technique needed for the right nourishment of the moment."  Susun Weed elaborates: "Using local plants moves us into the rhythm of where we live.  When we eat the produce and herbs that are grown right here right and now, we are in better health because we are giving our bodies 'the message of the day.'  What message are you giving your body when you consume strawberries in the middle of the winter?  It interferes with your health, because you are telling your body you're living in the tropics!"

There are recipes galore and personal favorites for incorporating local plants into meals and snacks-like making "pesto" out of catnip or chickweed instead of basil, as Denise Vaught does.  You'll find ideas for foraging and preparing local (and nonlocal) wild plants in Susun Weed's books and Web page, among the resources listed below, and in any good bookstore.

In my ignorance I've cursed and uprooted delicious burdock because of its tenacious burrs, dug up plantain and dandelion invading the lawn (to no avail), ripped up tender, tart garden sorrel that's taking over the veggie garden, ripped out prolific garlic mustard that keeps trying to get my attention.

No more.  I've been going out first thing in the morning, munching plantain seeds-a tasty, chewy, nutritious treat-with my morning coffee (a non-nutritious habit). I crunch on sprigs of purslane, nibble the velvety, minty blossoms of Johnny-jump-ups which jump up from the barren spring soil every year.  As for the lawn, yes, the resale on the house may be less because of my scruffy lawn.  The words "Mow the damn thing" nag at my conscience, but the plants are whispering ever louder, "Come and know us."

DISCLAIMER: Information provided in this article is not intended to replace the advice and expertise of a qualified herbalist, medical practitioner, or other health professional.

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