Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer Sabbatical Summary

With winter looming in the not-to-distant future and summer only peeking in on us from time-to-time; I have spent as much time as possible outside. In late Spring, around the time my Grandson was finishing up with T-Ball; I became quite entrenched (read, "obsessed") with learning to identify edible and medicinal plants growing within walking distance of my house. Paying little heed to the obsession warnings of the experienced edible weed explorers, I soon became unable to pass by ANY plant in ANY location without wanting to "harvest" it if I knew its name and purpose OR identify it if I didn't.

I cannot quite recall what started it all. Perhaps, it was an accidental encounter with a weedy blogger talking about the miraculous nutrition and medicinal properties of Broadleaf Plantain or Prunella Vulgaris that lead me to realize that these and many other foods are growing all around me. Although I have read about and been familiar with the names and ideas of these and other wild plants over the years, it was not until that moment that I realized the value of the visual aspect of the internet to aid in the identification of these plants. The sketches and drawings in reference books never seemed quite true to least not enough for me to have the confidence to EAT anything based on those images alone.
(DISCLAIMER: I am sharing my own experience on this journey. I am not a physician or an herbalist. Be sure to positively confirm and identify all plants prior to consumption.NEVER EAT ANY PLANT IF YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT IT IS. Speak with a professional herbalist or physician prior to using any medicinal plant as they may have negative effects or may be harmful in combination with other medications. No topic discussed in this post is intended to replace the guidance of your own physician.To avoid hazardous allergic reactions it is also wise to try small portions to begin with and work your way up to combining these edible weeds into your regular diet.)

Road trips, softball games, and family picnics have become venues for potential grocery shopping in Mother Nature's permacopia. However, I have discovered that not everyone shares this enthusiasm. It has also come to my attention that just because the references say that something is "edible" does not necessarily imply that it is PALATABLE. Plucking a leaf too late in the season can be the difference between a lifetime affection for a "new" food and absolute revulsion for all Food Under Foot. Specifics about which portion of the plant to eat are also quite relevant. Given my limited culinary background, I am also paying close attention to HOW to Eat The Weeds.  I have found that most of them have the ability to sustain a person. However, as is the case with many cultivated foods, it takes a certain cuisine art to get the full benefit of the experience.

Daylily Buds sauteed in butter, salt, & pepper

The more I learn, the more I want to know.
Most usage guides include historic medical properties of these wild foods. As with ANY medication, proceed with caution in this area as portion, concentration, preparation method, and timing play a crucial part in determining the difference between relief and overdose. Since I take several prescriptions and supplements to manage my health issues, it is also important for me to know if these plants play well with others.

The motivation for all this work?
1) Free easy access to food.
2) The potential to replace synthetic medications and supplements with natural ones
3) Potential for Relief from the symptoms of arachnoiditis

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