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Wild Foods as Medicine

Friday, September 13, 2013 8:45 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
Wild Foods as Medicine

Many women, deficient in minerals, don’t have the vitality, strength and energy to engage in the many projects they are called to.  A key in re-building our inner vigor is to lay a foundation of health through nourishing foods, including mineral-rich wild foods.
 
For our bodies to function optimally – including the nervous, immune, and hormonal systems - women must ingest a broad spectrum of minerals. In our Western culture, many of our diets are mineral deficient.  Partially due to food choices, another factor is the condition of our soils.  The needed mineral content is simple not available after decades of large-scale, industrial farming, which has stripped the soils and washed the minerals out to sea.  Even our organic foods has less mineral content then when it was ingested by our ancestors.
 
To get needed minerals, a common practice is to take supplements.  However, supplements come with at least several major obstacle, one of which is that they are not readily digested or absorbed.  Many are synthesized or mined, which makes them not only hard to assimilate in our bodies, but in our economies and regenerative cultures as well.
 
Instead, Wise Women turn to the ways of our foremothers.  We build strong bones and greater vitality through nourishing foods and wild plants with which our bodies evolved - nettles, chickweed, dandelion, violet, yellow dock, whole yogurt and bone broths.
 
Wild plants grow on the edges, often in soils that have not been denuded of mineral content.  As a result they provide an abundance of minerals and other nutrients.  A  recent New York Times article marvelled that dandelion greens having at least seven times the phytonutrients of spinach. Wild plants provide not only macro elements - calcium, phosphate, potassium, magnesium and others - but also micro elements known as trace minerals - iron, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, iodine and others. When we eat wild plants we receive optimal nourishment in a form that our bodies can readily utilize.
 
Wild plants are easiest as infusions and soups.
 
Infusions are an excellent source of minerals because of the long brewing time and large quantity of plant material used. A regular cup of tea brewed ten minutes with a teabag will have nowhere near the mineral impact of an infusion.
 
The long cooking times for soups helps break down the plant's tough cell walls, which makes the minerals more available to our bodies (See Nettle Soup Recipe below). When cooking greens, allow them to stew for 20-30 minutes or more. Since women may be concerned about the vitamins content being destroyed by heat, it is encouraged to snack on fresh wild greens in addition to cooking them!
 
Another key to minerals is the stage of a woman’s life.  Minerals are often lost through pregnancy, menopause and menstruation. While it is easiest to build bone mass in our 30's, we can do it anytime, even during or after menopause. Common methods of hormone replacement therapy and calcium supplements are generally not successful in building bone mass after menopause, yet, eating mineral rich wild plants and other nourishing foods, along with adding weight bearing exercise into our daily lives, can support us in our efforts to remain vital and healthy long into our elder years.
 
Nourishing foods, and finding ways to easily incorporate them in daily life, are essential for women today.  For those who want a deeper experience, consider joining Corinna Wood, Susun Weed and Sally Fallon Morrel at the 9th annual Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference, October 11-13 near Asheville, NC.  Corinna will be teaching a class on “Weeds, the Wise Woman Way”; Susun will be, among other things,  teaching on the “Magic of Mints”, and Sally Fallon Morrel will be focusing on traditional nourishing foods.

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Mineral-Rich Foods: a few examples include yogurt, seaweed, and bone broth
Mineral-Rich Wild Plants: a few examples include nettles, dandelion greens and yellow-dock leaves.
 
Nettle Soup Recipe: Nettle soup is considered a macrobiotic delicacy, and nettle’s bonanza of nutrients stays with you long after the plates are cleared. Serve it up with some brown rice or bread and butter, and it will provide plenty of energy for an afternoon among the herbs, or an evening of great conversation with friends.


 
Soup recipe:
½ medium onion
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced potatoes
6 cups water or broth
3 cups nettles tops
sweet white miso, to taste
 
Sautee the onions and garlic in a little olive oil. Stir in your carrots and potatoes. After a few minutes, cover them with the water or broth (vegetable or chicken broth work beautifully).
 
If your nettle tops are small, you can put them in whole. If they’re larger than you would want to have on your spoon, put your gloves back on and chop them coarsely before adding to the soup. Bring to a boil and let it all simmer for 35 to 45 minutes.
 
Dilute several spoonfuls of sweet white miso in some of the broth, and then add it to the soup bowls at the table so the beneficial microorganisms don’t get cooked by the boiling temperatures.
 
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Wise woman, herbalist, visionary and mother, Corinna Wood is the founder and director of Southeast Wise Women, and also the founder of Red Moon Herbs. She has opened the hearts of thousands of women to trusting the wisdom of the plants, the earth, and their own bodies.  www.SEWiseWomen.com
 

Jackie Dobrinska joined the staff of Southeast Wise Women after attending the Wise Woman Immersion several years ago.  Today, in addition to running logistics at the Immersion, she provided photography and content for the web, newsletters, and social media, connecting an expanded web of wise women.
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