Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Are Americans Waging War with a Super Food

Click Here to Hear This Blog in Audio!

From yards in the city, to homes in the country, we all battle the pesky weed known as the dandelion. What is this weed that we adore as children when we blow off the frail seed tops and curse as adults for their evasive placement in our side walks? Where did it come from? Why was it brought here? Does it possess some hidden power that we are all over looking and what should I do with it to make it edible? Let's explore this little yellow beauty.

The dandelion originated in Asia as a food and medicine. It was brought to the United States by the Spanish and Germans. The name, dandelion, comes from the French language and is said "dents de lion" which means "teeth of the lion" and references the jagged leaves of the plant. This little plant is actually still grown as a crop in Belguim. (See more fun facts at simplesaurus.blogspot.com)

Here in the United States we have declared war on it and many products offer sure fire ways to rid your yard of the pesky plant. This war on the dandelion started after World War II when Americans began to spread out into suburban housing. A book called "A Lawn Without Dandelions" published in 1921 declared officially that the war had begun but are Americans fighting a plant that could be nourishing our bodies better than most other greens we eat?

Yes we are. The medical benefits of this plant are numerous and very underrated in this country. This plant is very well respected across the globe. It appears in the US National Formulatory and in the Pharmacopeias of Hungary, Poland, Switzerland and the Soviet Union. It is also, one of the top 6 herbs in Chinese herbal Medical Chests. It is a great source of beta-carotene, vitamin A, fiber, potassium, vitamin B, thiamine, riboflavin and protein. (Check out all the medical research and findings at leaflady.org)

Peter Gail states on the site, The Leaf Lady "Suppose your doctor tells you, on your next visit, that he has just discovered a miracle drug which, when eaten as a part of  your daily diet or taken as a beverage, could, depending on the peculiarities of your body chemistry: prevent or cure liver diseases, such as hepatitis or jaundice; act as a tonic and gentle diuretic to purify your blood, cleanse your system, dissolve kidney stones, and otherwise improve gastrointestinal health; assist in weight reduction; cleanse your skin and eliminate acne; improve your bowel function, working equally well to relieve both constipation and diarrhea; prevent or lower high blood pressure; prevent or cure anemia; lower your serum cholesterol by as much as half; eliminate or drastically reduce acid indigestion and gas buildup by cutting the heaviness of fatty foods; prevent or cure various forms of cancer; prevent or control diabetes mellitus; and, at the same time, have no negative side effects and selectively act on only what ails you. If he gave you a prescription for this miracle medicine, would you use it religiously at first to solve whatever the problem is and then consistently for preventative body maintenance?"

I sure would!  So now that we know this plant rocks and this war is a joke, what do we do with it. The whole plant is edible but there are some tricks to its preparation. The new green leaves, that haven't developed the saw toothed look, are best for salads. They can be a little bitter so they can be mixed with lettuce, corn, apples, or nuts. Additionally, they can be used in egg salad or potato salad. The older leaves (but not too old) can be sauteed and used with spinach (or as a spinach substitute) for recipes. People also pickle the leaves and use them to make kim chi. The flowers make great fritters, jam, can be used in stir fry, or as a coffee substitute and can also be made into wine. (See all the recipe details at motherearthnews.com)

So let's stop the war on dandelions and start appreciating them for the super food they are!

Sara F. Hathaway
Sara F. Hathaway is the author of the The Changing Earth Series: Day After Disaster and Without Land. She also hosts The Changing Earth Podcast which blends her fictional stories with educational survival tips. Sara grew up in the country where she developed a profound interest in the natural world around her. After graduating with honors from The California State University of Sacramento with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, she launched into a career in business management. In her fictional novels her research and experience with survival techniques and forgotten life-sustaining methods of the generations past come to the forefront in a action packed adventures. She has used her background in business management to pave new roads for fictional authors to follow and she delights in helping other achieve the same success. She currently lives with her husband and two sons in California where she is at work on the sequel to her first two novels. For more information and a free copy of “The Go-Bag Essentials” featuring everything you need to have to leave your home in a disaster visit: www.authorsarafhathaway.com
Purchase Without Land
Purchase Day After Disaster