Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
Wild Wanderings Blog – April 19, 2012
Hello everyone, I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week enjoying this beautiful Spring! Wild plants are still popping up everywhere here in the mountains. I found Solomon’s seal and Jack in the pulpit the other day. Blue cohosh is emerging as well as numerous other rich cove plants. The Smoky Mountains are truly a botanists dream!
Last week I finished up with the amazing cattail plant. It’s a wonderful plant with many uses indeed. This week I’ll finish up “The Big Four” with grasses…yes, grass is nutritional! When we think about wild edible plants, grass never seems to enter our mind-frame. We know that all ruminants like deer, cattle, goats and sheep etc eat grass, but we never consider the fact that we can benefit from the abundant and nutritious qualities of common grasses as well.
Many, but not all are aware that common grains we consume like wheat, barley and rye are actually grasses. They have been the sole ingredients of breads that have sustained humans for many thousands of years. But what about common grass? Can we eat it? Should we? The answer is yes and no…let me explain:) The cellulose in grass is very tough. In order to digest it (raw) efficiently we need the enzyme cellulose. Ruminants have this enzyme, but we don’t. Chewing and swallowing this tough cellulose in any substantial quantity would surely put a strain on our digestive system. Not a desirable thing:)
So what are our options? From a wilderness survival point of view, we would simply chew the grass for a few minutes and spit it out. By masticating this resource we can glean its many healthful benefits. Though there are numerous species, all can be used in the same way. Grass is an abundant and nutritionally solid food source. Dried and powdered grass can be added to other flours (50/50) to make bread and biscuits. Did I also mention it’s free? The possibilities are endless! Definitely, add this to your soups and stews.
So, how nutritious is grass? Here’s enlightening Historical info I got from a source years ago. During World War II, the military on both sides of the conflict were looking for ways to feed their troops more efficiently. After all, your army is only as strong as your supply lines. A hungry soldier is not a happy soldier. They found that ordinary lawn grass was an all-sufficient complete food. Sounds like a bad joke doesn’t it? England, in fact found that dried pressed grass could replace such perishables as fish and meat, which were of short supply. They discovered that a mere 12 pound block of dried grass contained more vitamins and minerals than 340 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables combined! That is way more fruits and vegetables than the average person will eat in a year.
Powdered grass is currently used in a variety of products that we use every day. It is a major ingredient in so called “Miracle food supplements” that claim to relieve everything from tired blood to mild depression. Such chlorophyll products, like grass are also an important ingredient in deodorants and toothpastes, the latter of which can help prevent and cure bad breath. So the next time you’re mowing your lawn or spraying various toxic chemicals to control those darn pesky weeds…stop and ask yourself…why?
As always, I welcome your thoughts and input. Please consider joining a group I started called “Traditional / Primitive Living Skills” and I do encourage you to ask questions and contribute.
Richard Cleveland lives in Asheville, NC. He is the founder and director of Earth School. A self-trained Naturalist, fishing and nature guide, he has taught traditional native skills to thousands of people, of all ages. For info about his programs visit www.LoveTheEarth.com
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