Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Foraging Tour

On Saturday I did my first Foraging course, with Tracy from Wild About Weeds, in Noordhoek. She is amazing! It was really eye-opening, learning about Wild Edibles and Medicinal Plants. We are surrounded by medicine! What really stood out for me was how quickly we run to the doctor for antibiotics, when it is right here surrounding us.

We started our day with Nettle tea, took a long walk down to the sea foraging, and ended it with dandelion root tea and a delicious lunch. I can't even begin to tell you the benefits of these plants, it would take forever. They are rich superfoods. Nettle is best known for its cleansing and detoxing. Dose: ¼ cup fresh or 1 tsp. dried to a cup of boiling water.
A most abundant “weed” ~ it grows all over the world. Must be placed in boiling water for about 30 seconds to 1 minute to neutralise the sting or can be used without any harm in its dried form. Juicing plants through a mincer or juice extractor is also fine.Parts used: whole plant ~ leaves, stems and root.

Harvesting: Gather the plants before they bloom – the younger the better. It is always best to harvest herbs from your own land / or the space in which you live because plants in your environment are best suited to deal with the illnesses created by your environment). Nettle is best fresh but can be dried for all year round use. I am never without this wonderful herb in my home. Always use gloves to harvest these plants.

Food: Add fresh sprigs to stews, soups or any one pot dish (just before serving) to enhance nutrition value. Add to stocks. Sprinkle the dried herb over food. This herb makes an excellent substitute for spinach and is actually richer in iron. Chicken and nettle broth was the cure all chicken soup that our granny’s fed us. The juice of raw nettle is an excellent tonic for anyone who is sick. Excellent chopped up and sautéed with onion and potato.

Medicinal: I love it as a tea to gently cleanse and detox… it’s brilliant for acid related ills such as arthritis, gout, or any digestive upsets… is great for fluid retention… gives your kidneys a good flush… its diuretic action increases the flow and often helps to dissolve blockages in the urethra. It is an anti-allergy remedy that is useful for insect bites, rashes, and runny noses. It is thought to work like a mild (homeopathic) dose of histamine meaning it provokes the body into defensive action by triggering an attack (it prompts the body into helping it prepare).

Works on hay fever, asthma, eczema and insect bites. It is also used to treat anaemia (better than any other plant), rickets, scrofula, respiratory illnesses (tuberculosis - it took about a year of daily nettle juice to cure one patient), and especially lymphatic problems. It improves breast milk production and reduces enlarged and painful prostate. In a study conducted on human subjects who had mild cases or early onset of prostatic adenoma (a degenerative enlargement of the glandular part of the prostate that typically results in frequent urination during the night)

The fluid extract (tincture) of nettle root was found to reduce the duration and volume of urine retention and thus the need to urinate throughout the night. The active constituent in this case is believed to be Beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol known to possess mild anti-inflammatory activity. Although it is not likely to reduce scar tissue with in the urinary tract and prostate, it is believed to relieve symptoms through reduction of swelling in surrounding tissues. Given the safety of this herb, nettle is certainly worth a try. Nettle tea purifies the blood, helps expel kidney stones and sciatica. It has also been used to treat internal haemorrhage, dysentery, bronchial catarrh, jaundice and infertility. Great for skin and hair (makes a great hair rinse to improve quality and condition – a basic infusion). Appropriate for childhood ailments. Juice of nettle works wonders on any sick person (a tablespoon a day for an adult, a teaspoon a day for a child, and five to ten drops for an infant)~ it may be added to a warmed already prepared soup to help mask the taste if need be.

It is estimated that there are about 500,000 flowering plant species on the planet of which 75,000 are believed to be edible! Of these edible ones only about 150 are recognised worldwide as food plants!!! Of these 150 known edibles ONLY about 30 are making a significant contribution towards human nutrition!! It's no wonder we (as a species) are so nutritionally deficient and why disease is at an all-time high worldwide!

Wild food is a FANTASTIC way to boost your nutrition naturally! The food is free. Abundantly available and most wild greens offer nutrition levels FAR superior to your store bought greens. Wild foods haven't been genetically modified or tampered with in any way (bred to look good or to last a long time on a shelf). These pioneer plants are amazing healers.

Eating “local” wild food also has many, many environmental benefits such as zero carbon kilometres from plant to mouth!

There is a growing need for people to become more self–sufficient:- escalating food prices (peak oil, unsustainable farming practices; failing economy), failing crops worldwide due to erratic weather conditions, the dismal state of store bought foods (pesticides, chemical, preservatives and all sorts of nasties), not to mention the massive impact our consumerist behaviour is having on the poor Earth and all of the creatures in it.

Learning about wild food and medicine is just a wonderful way to begin honouring our connection to the Earth.

Come and RECONNECT with nature and learn about wild food and medicines. 

“What I love most about teaching people about wild food and medicines is seeing how it empowers them and inspires them.”
Sour fig



Foraging for lunch
Wild asparagus
Wild garlic

Num nums
The wonderful garden of the Living Art Farm, in Noordhoek