Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
Wild Wanderings Blog – May 24, 2012
Hello my fellow farm-dreamers:) Many apologies for last week’s absence. I’m still without internet at home and communication is hindered to say the least. Funny…I teach primitive skills and I’m somewhat paralyzed without modern technology…go figure:))
In my last Blog, I stated that I’d guide you through the gathering of various plants and such that I collect throughout the year. Wild plants are a huge part of survival, yet most survival books don’t acknowledge or focus on this nearly enough. The recognition and utilization of available resources is paramount to survival.
Let’s start this journey with the dandelion. We’re all familiar with this common weed, mostly from TV ads telling us that if we have this yellow flower in our yard, we’re a bad neighbor. In fact…I can think of no other plant that has drawn such negative attention. Nothing could be further from the truth.
From a survival standpoint, the dandelion is a welcomed friend. Rich in vitamin A and potassium, the dandelion is a resource that we all should utilize on a daily basis. It’s a perfect plant for balancing our heavy western diets. While dandelion is usually found in urban areas, it’s also quite common in wilderness environments as well. Old logging roads, in fact often provide an abundance of numerous wild edibles.
The dandelion is without question one of the most powerfully nutritious and medicinal plants on Earth. Every part of this amazing plant is edible, though eating the stem might not be your favorite part. Most people, like me, usually eat only the leaves and flowers. The roots, though edible taste like bitter dirt. I reserve those for tinctures. Medicinally speaking the dandelion is a blood cleanser and an effective immune system stimulant. Because of its high potassium content, it makes a perfect diuretic. Prescription diuretics are notorious for depleting the body of potassium. Since dandelion contains so much potassium, it gives you more than it could ever possibly deplete.
Dandelion is often quite bitter, but I rather enjoy the taste simply because it’s real. It’s the perfect plant for sluggish digestion and has been shown to normalize liver function. Most people avoid eating the leaves when they get large simply because they’re extremely bitter at this stage. This doesn’t deter me however. I collect these over-sized leaves and dry them. I crumble the dried leaves and save them for soups and stews. The leaf stems become woody during the drying process and are discarded. This way I can enjoy the numerous health benefits of this amazing plant throughout the year.
The war we’ve waged on the dandelion is based entirely on ignorance. Science is finally now acknowledging this plant for its many potential health benefits. A grant for $217,000 was recently awarded to Windsor University in Canada to study dandelion root for its possible use in fighting Cancer. A friend of mine used the root several years ago to help him in his battle against throat Cancer. While I make no claims, I urge you to read his story. Make no mistake…the dandelion is a gift. “If you can’t beat em…eat em!”
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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