Sunday, September 4, 2011

In defense of weeds

Yesterday there was a fascinating interview on American Public Media with Richard Mabey, the author of "Weeds: In defense of nature's most unloved plants".

He recognized that weeds were the first food of humankind.  For example, 5,000 years ago lambs quarters was one of the first crops, and remained a crop plant for 4,000 years.  However once more desirable spinich plants were developed it became defined as a weed.

In addition to nutrition, another important role weeds may play is in amending troubled ground.  Where we humans have wrecked the soil the weeds come in to repair it.

All cultivated plants have their origin in wild/natural plants.  Unfortunately many of our cultivated plants are considerably less hearty than their wild ancestors.

Pictured left is one of my favorite 'weeds', Salsify or Goatsbeard.  This was once a popular food, as is recorded in vintage recipes. Love to know if someone has tried utilizing salsify or other 'weeds' in their cooking!  Please let me know.

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