Happy Earth Day

The Earth Is Awesome

Happy Earth Day! Of all the days this is one we should all pause to acknowledge. Without mama earth there would be no life. No you. No me. Nada. Just one look at the other planets in our solar system and the ridiculous abundance we live in is clear.

Even when we try to concrete over her, she still finds a way through. Hello dandelions!

 The earth gifts us the water we drink, the food we eat and the air we breath. We don’t have to do anything for this, it’s right there. As I look out at my garden right now I can see dandelion flowers popping up everywhere. This highly nutritious plant is offering itself in abundance, ready to feed me, without me doing anything!

As our modern lifestyles have distanced and disconnected us from the earth we’ve forgotten just how important the earth is, not only to our survival but to our wellbeing.  When I say we’ve forgotten – I don’t mean intellectually. Most of us can rationally understand that trees and plants provide us with the fresh oxygen that we need, that healthy soil produces nutrient rich foods that sustain our bodies. But there’s another type of cognition that’s all but lost, a heart-centred, intuitive mode of cognition.

You can pick some wild flowers to decorate your home and remind you of your plant friends. The teapot is full of wild nettles, perfect at this time of year and full of iron, potassium and calcium. Yum!

I’m reading a fascinating book on this topic called The Secret Teachings of Plants. All ancient and indigenous people the world over said they learned about the medicinal properties of plants…wait for it…from the plants themselves! Sounds pretty out there, but this isn’t just one group of people in one geographic location at one point in time. This has been a way of knowing and communicating with the environment documented in distinct groups of people throughout the world at different times in history. They can’t all be wrong/bonkers/foolish/stoned. 

The book goes on to describe in incredible detail how the heart, our human heart, is a powerful organ of perception. It’s the organ that is most sensitive to electrical and magnetic fields. The earth itself, and all life on it, including the plants, are constantly sending out electrical and magnetic signals, these signals contain information.  We’re just not listening anymore. It’s not surprising then that we do things that harm the earth and harm ourselves in turn.

You can dedicate a tree to someone by donating to the Woodland Trust. The money goes towards conserving and planting new trees. What a beautiful gift, we’ve just dedicated a tree to our bump. http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/support-us/dedicate-a-tree/

Another point worth noting from the book is that our hearts will merge and entrain with other electromagnetic fields. A mother’s calm heartbeat calms a distressed baby when it’s held close to her chest. When we go out into nature, take a walk in the forest, our hearts entrain with the slower, deeper rhythm of the plants and trees we’re surrounded by. We feel calmer. Likewise, if we’re in a busy environment surrounded by stressed out people our heart entrains with that vibe and we feel the difference. So we haven’t completely lost this art of communication, but it could definitely do with some nurturing. 

 

How to Celebrate Earth Day

Given the gems from this book my top tip to celebrate Earth Day is simply to get outside and spend some time in contact with the earth and with the plants. Bonus points if you get barefooted and make direct contact with the earth (check out my new earthing obsession here).

If you’re as plant-illiterate as I am consider going on a foraging course to discover the plant-abundance on your doorstep. This dude was awesome and not too expensiveL http://www.edenwildfood.co.uk/

If everyone started to plug back into the source that sustains us, to cultivate this relationship, we wouldn’t be so blasé and passive about corporations and governments pillaging the earth for profit and convenience.

Until most us can recognise more plants and trees than company logos we’re not going to see the shift we need to live in harmony with the earth. So go out on Earth Day and take a look around. Get curious about what’s there. Start making some plant friends. Maybe pick some wild nettles or dandelions and make a special Earth-Day-locally-harvested-meal!

“The intention to note and detect external stimuli results in slowing of the heart. This shift in focus from thinking to external sensory perception, significantly modifies and slows the duration of the cardiac cycle, producing a transformational cascade that affects all physiological and cognitive functioning.” – The Secret Teachings of Plants

Resources and Links

The Secret Teachings of Plants

Food for Free

The Woodland Trust  Dedicate a tree to someone as a lovely gift or just donate to support our woodlands. The UK is one of the least wooded areas in Europe with around four per cent woodland cover. Four per cent!! Less then two per cent of the UK is covered by ancient woodland, which is both rare and irreplaceable.

http://www.edenwildfood.co.uk/  Get to know the wild edibles in your locality by taking a foraging course.  I had so much fun on this course, highly recommend! There’s free food everywhere when you know what you’re looking at!

Facebook Groups

Herb, Plant and Foraging identification workgroup

Edible and Medicinal Foraging UK

 

Why I Eat Weeds + 10 Reasons You Should Too

A ten-year journey to a whole foods vegan diet has culminated in this, I’ve finally gone full-on-feral.

DSC_0029wildwisdomofweeeds

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds by Katrina Blair

 Joking aside, the book The Wild Wisdom of Weeds has recently opened my eyes to a whole new world. It’s testament to just how domesticated and disconnected we are from our environment that it had never occurred to me that weeds might be just like many other plants, edible and nutritious.

When I recently heard that the dandelions growing in abundance in my neglected garden, the dandelions I had always seen as a nuisance and done nothing but try to kill and remove were not only edible but actually a superfood my first through was ‘REEEALLY???’. I contemplated my new dandelion friends with an air of suspicion. ‘You mean I can just pluck you from the pavement and eat you??

Why was this such a weird concept? Because they hadn’t been presented to me via the supermarket as one of the narrow group of 10-15 plants that we humans now eat?

It’s shocking but this is the extent to which we are turning our backs on and forgetting the planet’s huge biodiversity. The average human now eats between 10-15 plant species in a year. There are around 80,000 edible plant species in the world and routinely we eat just 10-15 of these. What impact is this loss of diversity having on our health and our capacity to live to our fullest potential?

dandelionpesto

Dandelion pesto: 2 cups dandelion leaves, 1 cup cashews, 3 tbs lemon juice, 3 cloves garlic, half cup sunflower oil, 1 cup basil, 1 cup water, pinch of salt. Blend it all up. Enjoy!

The Native Americans used around 1,200 different plant species in a year. The idea of being able to identify that many different plant species blows my mind somewhat. Compare that to many  people today, myself included, who sadly recognise more company logos than plants growing in their own neighbourhood. Isn’t that a little insane? And sad? 

We’ve created a system on earth which has domesticated us and in this process we’ve forgotten some pretty fundamental things. Chiefly that we are animals roaming a planet and entirely dependent on nature’s abundance for survival. This disconnect and disharmony can be seen in our unsustainable and consumption-based relationship to our home planet.

So what’s this all got to do with weeds? And why should we eat them? 

Because everyone loves a good list, here it is:

Top 10 Reasons to Eat Weeds

  • They are globalised plants for our globalised world. The 13 plants listed in this book (amaranth, chickweed, clover, dandelion, dock, grass, knotweed, lambsquarter, mallow, mustard, plantain, purslane, thistle) transcend continents and cultures. Wherever human settlements are found, whatever the climate or terrain, these  common weeds can also be found. It’s almost like they’re following us…hmm…might nature be trying to tell us something?
  • Eating weeds is a super-easy way to diversify our diet. Studies have shown that the more diverse our diet, the better our chances of staying healthy for a long time. I’ll take some of that!
  • They are abundant. You don’t need intensive farming or any effort to grow them, they grow themselves!! With a growing population and an
    dandelionjuiceingarden

    Super easy juice to turbo-power your day: blend dandelion leaves, lemon and an apple. BAM!

    increasing drive to push GMO crops and monoculture as the solution to get more and more food from our already depleted soil perhaps we’re looking in the wrong places. Perhaps the weeds are mother nature saying ‘Look, humans, look! I’m trying to feed you, I’m right here, in your back garden, in the pavement cracks, wherever you go, here I am, trying to nourish you!’

  • Weeds thrive on soil disturbed by humans. They pull nutrients from deep beneath the earth’s surface and regenerate the soil. They are the superheroes sent to nourish and save the planet and us from…well…us. When we eat wild weeds we collaborate with their planet-rejuvenating efforts by utilising far fewer resources. 
  • They are exceptionally nutritious. A dandelion growing in between the pavement cracks is probably more nutritionally potent than crops grown through commercial agriculture which have been hybridised over time and grown as mono-crops in compromised soil.
  • Wild weeds are free, you don’t need to be wealthy to eat wholesome and truly organic food. Nature doesn’t discriminate, she wants to nourish everyone.
  • They can re-awaken our primal memory, the memory of our true source of creation. When we eat these wild weeds we start to remember our connection to the planet. They offer a direct link to the wild intelligence within us.
  • dandelioonquinoa

    Dandelion flowers can add beauty to a simple meal, and you can eat them too. With an array of B vitamins, proteins, amino acids and trace minerals you’d be crazy not to 🙂

    They are ridiculously resilient as any gardener can tell you. If we try to resist them we fight a losing battle against nature. If we work with them we align ourselves with the powerful force of nature and experience strength and richness. We are what we eat; when we eat these hardy weeds they gift us their resilience and survival superpowers!

  • Eating them instils trust in our ability to survive and thrive in harmony on the land. Our source of life is all around us and always available. Our survival isn’t in the hands of politicians, it’s in our own hands and how we chose to use them to connect to our environment.
  • They are medicinal containing all of the vitamins and minerals we need to thrive in the form of a living whole plant making them far superior (and cheaper) than the supplements purchased in store.  A side benefit is that no energy is wasted in producing, packaging and shipping them around the globe. You can more than likely freshly harvest them from within walking distance of your home! 
  • If we shift how we look at these weeds to see them as allies, and cultivate a collaborative relationship with them,
    minkyandjasperingrass

    My cats seem to appreciate the wild-jungle-approach to gardening too, everyone’s a winner!

    we might just shift how we care for our planet.

  • Last but not least, if you’re a lazy gardener like me you now have the perfect excuse not to mow the lawn or do any sort of arduous garden work.  What was previously laziness is now intentionally holding a space for nature to spring forth and nourish you. 🙂

Inspired to take a walk on the wild side? Be warned, these wild weeds taste…well, wild!! Your domesticated palate will need some getting used to the intensity of these plant rebels. Start with a few leaves mixed in with your regular food and let me know how you get on!