The World of Wild Edibles

seapurslaneflowr-097by John Ubele

A few months ago I was reading a book about permaculture called, “Gaia’s Garden”, and came across a section in it covering wild edibles. I’ve been gardening since I was a teenager so I was excited to find out that some wild plants (also known as weeds) are edible. Having lived in Florida all my life gardening can be challenging here, especially when insects come in and ravage the crops.

After reading the brief section on wild edibles I decided to order a book called, “Forager’s Harvest”. The book is very well written and profiles over 50 wild edible plants throughout North America. There’s also a section in the back which gives excellent examples on how to identify plants by their leaves, stems and other parts.

I decided to educate myself more after reading the book so I searched for videos on YouTube covering wild edibles. The best ones I came across were from a channel called, “Eat The Weeds”, which is operated by Deane Jordan.

“I started teaching wild edibles because I wanted to make pollution personal. It’s one thing to tell people the environment is polluted, it’s another to show them a tree full of fruit they cannot eat because it’s too close to the Interstate.” Jordan said Sunday in an e-mail exchange with me.

I was delighted to find that Jordan’s channel has 105 videos, 101 of which profile different wild edibles. His other videos show how to make cider and vinegar, build a solar oven, and how to eat mole crabs and coquina.

While many of the plants Jordan profiles are native to Florida most can be found across North America. Jordan also has a website called eattheweeds.com where he gives a thorough write up about each plant he’s profiled in his videos.

“Foraging does more than put food on the table. It makes a person not only more aware of their surroundings but nature then becomes a resource rather than something to be controlled or eliminated,” Jordan added

Thanks to Jordan’s videos I’ve been able to properly identify three plants in my area. They are Creeping cucumber, Stinging nettle and Purslane, I’ve tasted all of these and have recommended them to my friends.

For thousands of years humans have been eating wild edibles and it’s very likely that they’ll become popular again given the state of our rapidly deteriorating economy.

Happy Foraging!

HOMEGROWN REVOLUTION – Radical Change Taking Root

Millions of people “vanished” in U.S. – historian

While America lectures Russia on the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine, Russian historian Boris Borisov asks what became of over seven million American citizens who disappeared from US population records in the 1930s.

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How Hunger Could Topple Regimes

The idea of the starving masses driven by their desperation to take to the streets and overthrow the ancien regime has seemed impossibly quaint since capitalism triumphed so decisively in the Cold War. Since then, the spectacle of hunger sparking revolutionary violence has been the stuff of Broadway musicals rather than the real world of politics. And yet, the headlines of the past month suggest that skyrocketing food prices are threatening the stability of a growing number of governments around the world. Ironically, it may be the very success of capitalism in transforming regions previously restrained by various forms of socialism that has helped create the new crisis.

Haiti is in flames as food riots have turned into a violent challenge to the vulnerable government; Egypt’s authoritarian regime faces a mounting political threat over its inability to maintain a steady supply of heavily subsidized bread to its impoverished citizens; Cote D’Ivoire, Cameroon, Mozambique, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Indonesia are among the countries that have recently seen violent food riots or demonstrations. World Bank president Robert Zoellick noted last week that world food prices had risen 80% over the past three years, and warned that at least 33 countries face social unrest as a result.

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Setting food prices in the United States

Surging costs of groceries hit home

groceries.jpgAmerican families, already pinched by soaring energy
costs, are taking another big hit to household budgets
as food prices increase at the fastest rate since 1990.

After nearly two decades of low food inflation, prices
for staples such as bread, milk, eggs, and flour are
rising sharply, surging in the past year at double-digit
rates, according to the Labor Department. Milk prices,
for example, increased 26 percent over the year. Egg
prices jumped 40 percent.

Escalating food costs could present a greater problem than soaring oil prices for the national economy because the average household spends three times as much for food as for gasoline. Food accounts for about 13 percent of household spending compared with about 4 percent for gas.

Full story:
http://www.boston.com/business/personalfinance/articles/2008/03/09/surging_costs_of_groceries_hit_home/?p1=email_to_a_friend

Paleolithic Diet: How our bodies want to be treated

mammoth.jpgThe human genome has changed little over the past
40,000 years
. Our ancestors developed agricultural
practices about 10,000 years ago. The advent of
agricultural marked a chaotic period for our bodies
to adjust to these foreign foods. The fossil record
shows a massive decrease in average height, health,
and rapid increase in disease, obesity, and population
for cultures that survived the transition from a hunter-
gatherer lifestyle to a agricultural dependent one. Women on high grain/carbohydrate diets become mature at an earlier age than their hunter-gatherer counterparts; thereby out-breeding and out-producing hunter-gatherers. Without this significant population boom, our diet as we know it could in fact be the same as it was before the advent of agriculture. The diet of our pre-agricultural ancestors consisted of meats, insects, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. The advent of agriculture brought us potatoes, legumes (i.e. peanuts, beans, and soy), grains (i.e. corn, wheat, rice, barley, and oats), and processed foods (i.e. sugar, bread, pastries, alcohol, etc.). Furthermore, we have bred our plants to produce the biggest and sweetest (highest sugar content) fruits. The best example of this is the blueberry.Compare a wild
Maine blueberry to the modern grocery store blueberry and you will see a remarkable difference. The wild blueberry is small, and contains little sugar. It takes a handful of wild berries to equal the sweetness of two or three large commercial berries. However, in that handful of wild berries you are getting a far larger amount of antioxidants and nutrients than you would by eating commercial berries alone. Farmers didn’t cultivate and breed our plants to grow the most nutritious fruit, just the best tasting fruit. This analogy can be said for most of our modern foods.

Chronic Illness: Diet Related?

A diet high in legumes, carbohydrates, and grains could be making you ill. Why would a diet high in post-agricultural-era foods be detrimental to our health? Because these foods are foreign to our bodies. Our genes have not had the time nor the evolutionary pressures to adapt to these new foods. Let’s examine the reasons:

Legumes:

Beans have been touted as the healthy protein alternative to meat. The fact that they can cause gastrointestinal distress should be enough for our concern. Most legumes are poisonous if eaten raw. Legumes are high in lectins, protease inhibitors, and phytates. Lectins are proteins that bind carbohydrates, been identified as being inflammatory and toxic, and have a casual relationship with auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Type I diabetes, and lupus. Phytates or phytic acids, have been shown to inhibit the absorption of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc in the digestive tract. Furthermore, the presence of protease inhibitors interferes with the breakdown of proteins into amino acids. Vegetarians seeking protein from legumes, may actually be making their protein deficiencies worse! A diet high in legumes, at best, will give you gastrointestinal problems and could result in a mineral deficiency. At worst, a diet high in legumes could induce an “auto-immune” response. Furthermore, the soy industry has been pushing the “health benefits” of soy. As a result, most of our processed foods contain a soy additive or byproduct, in effect, lacing our foods with possible toxins.

Carbohydrates:

“Carbo-loading” has become synonymous with healthy. But are foods high in carbohydrates really good for us? Dr. Wolfgang Lutz of Austria would say no. His clinical experience with hundreds of patients suggests that diets high in carbohydrates are actually detrimental to our health. It is Dr. Lutz’s opinion that carbohydrates are unnatural and harmful components of our diet and actually damage the mucosal layer of the gastrointestinal tract. Once damaged, antigens are free to enter the blood stream and cause all sorts of immune responses.But aren’t carbohydrates essential for a healthy diet? The answer is no. Sam Singer, in The Biology of the People writes, “The brain’s energy requirements can be met by between 100 and 145 grams of glucose per day, and most diets contain enough carbohydrate to provide the brain and other tissues with this amount of glucose on a daily basis. But even if a person’s diet changes so that it never contains enough carbohydrate to provide this much glucose, the concentration of glucose in the blood will not change. This is because natural selection has provided our bodies with a means of manufacturing it from molecules other than carbohydrates….The conversion of these dietary components into glucose is so effective that Masai warriors, Eskimos, South American gouchos, and other peoples may live for long periods of time on foods that are exclusively of animal origin and that contain almost no carbohydrate. These people are vigorous and healthy, and we learn from their eating habits that carbohydrate is not dietary essential, because they have normal levels of glucose in their blood in spite of the fact that their diets contain almost no carbohydrate.”

Some recent findings published in scientific journals have also shown a relationship between carbohydrates in diets and disease. A study plublished in Lancet found an increased risk of breast cancer in woman as the intake of available carbohydrates increased. A study published in PNAS demonstrates the dependence cancer cells have on glucose.

Full article:
http://www.healingcrow.com/dietsmain/paleo/paleo.html