Thursday, April 29, 2010

Shopping the Woods

I'm happy to tell you all that I've been discovering new (to me!) plants every day. I was unable to get outside for awhile due to a family issue, but I have returned to a fecund and glorious spring deluge of life. In the past 5 days, I've identified and sampled the following plants: Dryad's Saddle (mushroom), wild mustard, curly dock, watercress, garlic mustard, ramps, morels (these were given to me; I haven't been blessed with finding them this year, though I did dream of them two nights ago), and dandelion (of course!). I've seen many other plants that are both culinary and medicinal, though I haven't gathered them, as I'm not ready to use them. There are millions of May apples in our local woods, and I've found a great source for stinging nettle (I plan to gather some this weekend; I learned how to make cordage for baskets from the long stems, and intend to eat the leaves. Did you know that stinging nettle can make a vegan form of rennet for cheese-making?). There are many beautiful Jack-in the Pulpits growing in the woods right now; I also identified dogbane shoots and mullein, winter aconite (poisonous) and thistle, coltsfoot and winter cress. The list goes on.

Curly Dock with Garlic Mustard in the Foreground

There's no reason anyone should ever be hungry or mal-nourished! I'm furious with the media and our culture in general for commercializing our understanding of food and medicinal sources. We've been robbed of our natural birthright to live in harmony with the plant world by agribusiness; it's time to reeducate ourselves and our children, and reclaim the potential for vibrant, natural health that nature has provided us. There's something so basically wrong with the way people have developed in terms of where they get their foods; I know it came with industrialization, and the mindset of human control over nature. I know this will raise hackles, but perhaps it's a good thing that the economy is tanking. Perhaps we'll return to those things that really matter: a harmonious life in and with the world we live in, rather than manipulation and domination.

Mustard (Yellow)

I've recently become acquainted with another organization, PASA (PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture); from an agricultural point of view, they embrace the same ideals: natural and organic over agribusiness, simple and sustainable over complicated and short-lived. I've been learning about many different plant and animal resources as a result of my affiliation with them. I've also learned about Monsanto and many of the insidious practices designed to profit from human ignorance regarding their foodstuffs.

Chopped Veggies

I know this is a ramble, but I wanted to share my wonder at the abundance I'm experiencing right now; abundance of plant allies, of information, of understanding. I feel as if we're on the verge of a new paradigm; a very positive one, in terms of earth-consciousness and whole living. I hope I'm right.


This salad plus a delicious grass-fed egg omelet with vegetables and raw-milk mozzarella crumbles from the farm made a perfect dinner.  Natural food: it does a body good.

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