I did an eleven month herbal study in 1995 which included all aspects of plants, their medicinal and spiritual healing properties, as well as how to make our own herbal remedies from plant parts. Every week we had a section on nutrition which totally turned my head around and I will be forever grateful. I fully embraced food as my medicine; and if we are what we eat, I wanted wild foods in my repertoire. I love to garden, but there are “weeds” that are fun, adaptable, abundant, cost nothing and are delicious.
But look over here, on the path to the vegetable garden. You are walking on dandelion greens, mallow and wild spinach. They grow wherever they choose; thriving only where the land will support them, plus they come up weeks earlier than planted seeds. Of course a dandelion will often grow out of crack in the sidewalk, screaming to get your attention, “Look how strong and versatile I am, to grow in this difficult situation. I can help you!”
I began to take note. We did herb walks in the forests, beside the stream, as well as the back alleys of our neighborhoods, learning to identify what is edible and how delicious weeds can be. If you ever plan on being lost in the woods, make sure that your hiking partner is an herbalist.
You can eat things that you can barely touch!! I have nourished a small plot of stinging nettles from baby plants that were a house warming gift from a fellow herbalist. I placed them in a situation where they are least likely to jump out and grab an unsuspecting admirer. Nettle leaves gathered in the early spring before the plants have gone to seed, can be sautéed for a delicious green side dish weeks before my adorable spinach plants are ready for the plate and can be used in any recipe calling for cooked spinach.
Medicinally, nettles are vibrantly rich in vitamins and minerals and are considered to be a marvelous whole body tonic, great for enhancing the immune system and can benefit those who suffer from plant allergies. PLEASE NOTE: Unlike spinach, nettles cannot be eaten raw; they must be cooked, or dried for later use, and make a delicious, nutritious tea. Use gloves and wear a long sleeve shirt when you first gather nettles; I doubt that you will continue with the outfit, but better safe than sorry to get started. If you should get stung, you will be uncomfortable for an hour or so.
Beginners Recipe for Nettles.
Place nettle leaves in a colander and gently rinse with cool water. Empty into a frying pan that will easily hold what you have harvested. Add a small amount of water and simmer gently for two minutes or more. When most of the water has evaporated, add butter and gently stir. At this point you can add salt & pepper or sprinkle with your favorite seasonings. I love to add nettles to sautéed minced garlic.
The color green that nettles turn when gently cooked is a gorgeous sight. I hope in this lifetime that you get the chance to experience this.
Reprinted from Food and What Feeds Us, by a Week’s Worth of Women, edited by
Jyoti Wind. 2009.
I am offering Bringing in the Wild ~ Discovering Wild Foods
Two dates: May 1st or May 5th ~ 10am to 4 pm
@ Dragonfly Farm
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Eat Well and In-
Joy !! *annette