Weeds have gotten a bum rap. All over the shelves of gardening and home improvement stores you see tools and chemicals designed to get rid of weeds fast. They are often considered to be unsightly and they also tend to strangle out the plants you DO want to grow, like grass or veggies from the garden. Weeds are very hardy, drought tolerant, and they propagate quickly. Pluck a few out of the ground and a couple day later there are ten more. They can be like a mythical Hydra when you cut its head off. That is why they are such a problem. Unless you decide they aren’t such a problem and you embrace them for these very qualities. Because they are so hardy and they grow so well, even in unfavorable conditions, perhaps that means we need to live and let live and find uses for them. After all one person’s weed filled lawn might just be your own personal salad bar…
Why Eat Weeds?
There are many reasons to get familiar with edible weeds and start growing and eating them. Because they are so hardy they are a reliable food source. You can save money on expensive greens and do your foraging in the backyard, in public spaces, or in vacant lots. If times get tough financially you still have a salad bar you can visit for fresh food, loaded with nutrients. We also see many communities turning into food deserts with little to no access to real grocery stores and farmer’s markets….usually the poorer areas of our urban landscapes. Weeds though will grow with abandon in these areas and provide food. Foraging for wild edibles also teaches us an important skill we seem to be losing…the ability to survive and thrive on our own. Money savings, providing nourishing foods to those that need it, and making us more self sufficient… that is what weeds can do.
What Weeds Should I Eat?
Dandelion – Regal queen of weeds right? Dandelions are extremely hardy and their seeds are carried on the wind to create an endless supply. They are edible, tasty, and actually very good for you….the flowers and the leaves. You can gather flowers to make dandelion cookies, dandelion jam, dandelion tea (yum!) or even dandelion wine. My husband has fond memories of gathering the flowers by the bucket full so his grandmother could make wine. You can also use the flowers and the greens in salads, soups, and smoothies. Dandelion is well known as a liver cleanser and also for soothing wounds so they are excellent in homemade salves and body care products.
Lamb’s Quarters – This sounds like a juicy cut of meat right? Well, Lamb’s Quarter’s are commonly referred to as wild spinach and they taste very much like spinach. Their abundance and hardiness make them a darling of wild food foragers everywhere. They are a weed but very edible and can be cooked or used just as you would use spinach and they are loaded with beta carotene and calcium. Gobble them up in salads, soups, on pizza, in smoothies, or saute them lightly in oil. They are really tasty in a pureed garlic, onion, and avocado spread. If you don’t have any growing in your own yard just look around in vacant and abandoned lots (that are not being sprayed)…you may hit the jackpot.
Watercress – You often see bundles of this tasty green at farmer’s markets but they grow wild near waterways and riverbanks in just about every state. The favored way of eating it is raw in salads usually as they are close in relation to mustard greens and arugula. It is packed with vitamins A, K, and C and has also been used since ancient times as a healing aid.
Queen Anne’s Lace – This is another well know weed (like the dandelion) due to its beautiful flowers. They grow in fields, meadows, waste areas, and roadsides. It is also called wild carrot and you can dig it up and eat the finger like roots just as you would carrots. They taste great in soups and stews. The flowers can be eaten too (usually fried in batter).
Plantain – This weed can survive in pretty rough conditions. You will often find it sprouting up in sidewalk cracks or growing in gravel. It seems to find a way. It is related to spinach and is rich in iron and vitamins A and C. You eat it much like you would spinach but usually cooked. You can even eat the seedpods. Cook until tender and serve the leaves as you would spinach. The seedpods should also be cooked (quite tough) and served as you might serve green beans or asparagus.
This handy weed is also antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and a poison antidote. When you get a bee sting or mosquito bite you can chew the leaves and put the moistened /chewed leaves on the would to help draw out any toxins and help to heal it. It also works for bleeding, bruising, and itchy rashes. Beyond making poultices you can also make healing plantain oil by infusing the leaves in olive oil for several weeks.
As you can see weeds can be quite miraculous. Their hardiness, their nourishing properties, and their healing properties should be enough to make anyone reconsider and just let them grow.
I recently sat down to watch the movie BlackFish again. It made me just as angry watching it the second time as it did the first time. The first time I watched I had to keep leaving the room because some parts were very upsetting to me. This time I made myself watch it. I cannot believe that Sea World still has patrons. I cannot believe that anyone who has seen this movie and lives in the vicinity of one of these parks has not been going to them and picketing or laying down in the entrance ways to prevent people from entering. The stuff going on in these parks is horrifying.
One of the worst things they are doing IMO is lying to the public and calling it “education”. There are videos of Sea World employees telling visitors that the average age of an Orca is 30-35 years in the wild and that they live much longer in captivity. This is a bold faced lie. Orcas live as long as a human, anywhere from 60-100 years old. In captivity they live on average 30 years so Sea World is essentially robbing them of more than half their life and that short life is spent living in prison like conditions. Employees also “educate” the public that the dorsal fin of Orcas collapses in 80-90% of all male Orcas no matter where they live. Again this is a lie. Their fins collapse when in captivity. This happens in the wild only a measly 1% of the time.
Die hard supporters of Sea World and places like it claim that they are important because they provide education. As seen in this movie that education is hugely flawed and sprinkled with lies. There goes that whole argument. They also claim that kids will not come to love or appreciate animals like dolphins or Orcas if they don’t see them in captive situations. Again, I call that a load of steaming you know what. As my husband pointed out while watching he thinks kids will find more to love and appreciate about Orcas from watching this film than they ever would attending a show at Sea World. I agree.
The movie goes into a long history of attacks by frustrated Orcas in captivity (as in 70+). The former Sea World trainers who worked with these whales never even knew about most of them, even when they were working with the exact same whales who had attacked at other facilities. They are not told because their employers really don’t want them to know. How that is not seen as criminal is beyond me.
The movie is creating change though. Sea World’s profits have plummeted 15% and OSHA imposed rules upon them declaring that trainers cannot openly swim with the whales anymore but must have a barrier between them. Sea World appealed and was denied just a few days ago. A court in California also stated recently that they are launching a year long investigation into whether or not to ban Orcas in captivity. We have to keep the pressure on to make sure that happens.
No person should avoid seeing this movie. If you do, you are choosing to bury your head in the sand when it comes to this HUGE issue of animal cruelty and corporate profiteering. It was filmed with the greatest of intentions and to quote a great man “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. Endorsing Sea World and supporting them in any way is being silent. It makes one culpable.
I have been to zoos and aquariums where the goal is species protection and rehabilitation. Sea World does not even begin to qualify as one of those. For instance the aquarium near my home in Ohio has manatees. All of them were hit by boats in the Florida region. They get medical care and rehab and then they go back to the ocean. They are never made to sing for their supper. Maybe they are not capable so that is why they are not cared for in their own home state by (ahem) Sea World??? I don’t know but it sounds fishy.
Sea World has been under fire for decades for their practices. They ignored these concerns and kept up with business as usual. Now we are supposed to feel sorry for them because the backlash got too big?? No. If they wanted to do the right and honorable thing they would announce a plan to use ALL profits (after expenses) to revamp every single habitat to one of proper size and condition. They would no longer make animals perform like baffoons and endanger themselves and trainers. And they would promise to never, ever take a healthy animal from the wild again and instead house animals that are sick, injured, or endangered with a plan to rehab and return ASAP. Only after they made such statements (and backed it up with ACTION) would I consider supporting them with my money.
If you haven’t seen this movie yet…watch it, with your kids. It is so important.
Deodorant is a hot topic among crunchy, natural, health-minded folks. Conventional deodorant has lots of nasty ingredients and more than one report coming from the scientific community has hinted at a possible link between the nasties in deodorant and beast cancer. Just a quick gander at breast cancer rates and you may soon find yourself freaking out about what kind of deodorant you are using. Think about this tidbit. It is said that it only takes 26 seconds for a body care product to be absorbed into our bloodstream. That should make us very aware of what we use on our skin, no?
Putting toxic chemicals under your arms stinks! That’s why MightyNest, an internet retailer of extraordinarily high quality and safe products for your home and family, asked me to put non-toxic Pit Paste to the test. Find out why you should choose a natural deodorant, then take the pledge below. Your pits will thank you, and you could win a Happy Pit Pack from MightyNest!
But I digress…
No one wants to smell bad, especially a woman. Yet we are are the ones getting breast cancer for the most part so we have to take special care that we are not slathering our pits with carcinogenic products or ones that will mess with our hormones (think parabens). We want to smell nice and we want a safe way to achieve that goal. The answer quite clearly is to use a more natural product right?
Well, yes. The problem for me though is that I have tried oodles and oodles of deodorant products that make the claim to be healthier and safer. Some of them actually did fit this bill. The problem though is that they didn’t work . After a couple hours their odor fighting ability cancelled out and left me thinking that I must go back to the toxic stuff. I won’t name brands but I have literally tried several dozen natural deodorants and never ever found one I liked until Primal Pit Paste.
I have been using it for about a week now and I am one happy camper. The ingredients are all natural: organic shea butter, organic coconut oil, organic beeswax, organic arrowroot powder, aluminum free baking soda, and essential oils. The Lavender scented stick is my favorite but the orange creamsicle is also really, really nice. You put it up against your skin (and body heat) for just a few seconds and then it glides on easy and provides pit protection all day long. Work, gym, life…it has you covered.
Over the weekend I enjoyed a new movie added to the Netflix lineup recently. It had been a while since I really browsed what they have to offer, thinking I have watched just about every eco documentary on there. I really wanted to spend my Saturday out in the yard and actually I got up at about 6:00 am (hours before anyone else would wake) and headed outside to do just that. One misstep on my back deck though resulted in a horrifying popping sound from my leg and a wave of intense pain. So I spent my weekend on the couch hoping that rest would resolve it (we shall see!)
I was so impressed with the first movie I watched though that I had to share here. It is A Fierce Green Fire. It is a fascinating look at the environmental movement and its various “chapters” that lead us to where we are today. Each chapter is narrated by a different person such as Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, or Meryl Streep. Environmentalism in my mind really never became a thing until our local environments were actually threatened by something that had the power to destroy it on a large scale. That didn’t happen until the industrial age. The birth of environmentalism according to this narrative is said to have really started with hunters and fishermen. They were among the first to start sounding the alarms that big businesses and industrial “progress” was destroying nature. It was so very interesting given the slant we see from plant based diet supporters and animal activists that it was hunters who really were the first environmentalists and in fact still are among the most outspoken and active in protecting animals and local habitats.
These first pioneers started to see the destruction of habitats and the decimation of animal species to make nutty things like bird feather hats for affluent women. Then they turned their attentions to dams that were being built, cutting off water supplies to numerous habitats and effectively killing them. I was enthralled with a bit of history I had no clue about. I spent most of my life living in Arizona and never knew that developers attempted to build two dams in the Grand Canyon that would have essentially drained it. I cannot even imagine the Grand Canyon with no rivers to raft down but it almost happened. It was a burgeoning Sierra Club that stopped it and then spurred the movement to create National Parks that would be protected always.
In another chapter the movie delves into the lack of regulation assigned to the chemical industry and the Love Canal fiasco where a company buried 21,000 tons of waste near a sleepy town in New York. The end result was that 56% of the children born subsequently had birth defects (extra ears, toes, fingers, rows of teeth, etc). Numerous children were sick and others were stillborn or born so prematurely they died. It was a group on moms who came together and forced the government (after a long drawn out battle) to declare it a disaster zone and pay for everyone to relocate.
It tells the story of Greenpeace and all the work they did and the splinter groups that formed and did various good work such as stopping the whaling industry. This particular part of the movie was deeply disturbing though I must warn you…. sounds of screaming whales, seals being hit in the heads with axes and so forth. I watched it and it made me all the more angry about the Sea World business going on right now and how people are starting to wake up a little after seeing the Blackfish movie. Why people in states where a SeaWorld resides aren’t laying down in the parking lots of these places to block visitors daily baffles me. Many are boycotting but MORE action is needed. Greenpeace got stuff done because they took dramatic and effective action. Just sayin…
Yet another chapter involves deforestation and it highlights the story of Chico Mendes who pioneered the world’s first tropical forest conservation initiative. He lived in the forest and worked in the forest and saw it being sold off to ranchers and loggers who decimated it. He fought until he was able to make the area where he lived a protected area where the indigenous people were not squatters but the rightful owners. His story is beautiful but also heart wrenching.
There is also no shortage of political stuff in the movie. If you are conservative you probably won’t like it because well, frankly conservatives are on the wrong side of this issue and MOST of the horrendous, stupid, no-good, bad decisions that ended in devastation to our environment were made by Republicans. They lay a lot of blame on Reagan specially who actually targeted environmentalists and started calling them radicals. One of the first things the guy did was remove the solar panels from the white house and cut funding to alternative energy development. The guy had a huge axe to grind with environmentalists getting in the way of what he thought was progress. As a result of that (one of MANY) we are getting spanked by many other nations when it comes to alternative energy ideas and solutions. That said the movie also takes shots at Clinton, Gore, and Obama for essentially doing nothing to take legislative action on climate change even though they promised they would.
I highly recommend this movie. If you don’t like politics you can always skip that chapter and instead revel in the history of good people doing amazing things for our one home and be inspired to continue the work they started…
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