4 Wild Foods of Spring
Studies published within the past 15 years show that much of our produce at grocery stores is relatively low in phytonutrients, which are the compounds with the potential to reduce the risk of our modern diseases: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and dementia. The loss of these beneficial nutrients did not begin 50 or 100 years ago, as many assume. Unwittingly, we have been stripping phytonutrients from our diet since we stopped foraging for wild plants some 10,000 years ago and became dependent if domesticated varieties.
These insights have been made possible by new technology that has allowed researchers to compare the phytonutrient content of wild plants with the produce in our supermarkets. For example, wild dandelions, have seven times more phytonutrients than spinach, which we consider a “superfood.”
Spring is a time of new growth. A time that many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, are excited to finally get back outside after a Winters internal reflection. During the colder months, our metabolism tends to slow down. Spring is an opportunity to bring more movement back into our bodies.
The first weeds to burst through the thawing soil are the foods that we need to add to our daily diet. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Spring is a time to support the Liver and Gallbladder. After being indoors most of Winter, we may feel a little pent up or stagnant. Liver and Gallbladder stagnation may cause symptoms of anger, aggression, short-tempered, and impatience. Traditionally, people have relied on plants as allies to help us adapt to the change of seasons.
Here are 4 simple weeds that are welcome in my garden!
Violet leaf and flower (Viola sororia)
- Parts consumed: Leaf and Flower
- Best raw
- Rich in Vitamin A, C, and Rutin. with anti-inflammatory and lymph supporting properties
- Slightly demulcent, which adds lubrication to the digestive system and soothes a dry throat and cough
- Strengthens and encourages healthy blood flow
- Gentle lymph cleansing properties
- Gentle blood purifier
Dandelion greens (Taraxacam off.)
- Parts consumed: Leaf, flower, root
- Leaf is great in a stir fry or fresh salads. The root is a fantastic tea. Flowers make great fritters…just dip in egg and flour and fry in butter!
- A powerhouse of Vitamins A, C, K, E, Folate, and small amounts of B vitamins and a variety of essential minerals
- The leaves provide support for the liver, kidney, and gallbladder.
- May enhance vision
- Support the function of the heart.
- Balance blood sugar levels
- Possible anti-cancer properties.
- Over-all support for digestion.
Chickweed (Stellaria media)
- Parts consumed: Stem, leaf, and flower
- Best raw
- Rich in Vitamin A, C, D, small amounts of B vitamins, plus minerals of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and silica.
- Slightly demulcent and provides support for the urinary and respiratory tract.
- Gentle lymph cleanser.
- Enhance digestion.
- Gentle blood purifier
Wild Mustard Greens – (Brassica rapa)
- Parts consumed: Leaf, flower, and florets
- Best steamed
- Rich in Vitamin A and C, plus a variety of essential minerals
- Gentle blood purifier.
- Enhances digestive function.
- Supports healthy gallbladder and liver function.
These are just a few of the benefits these 4 Spring Wild Foods offer. In my home, I prepare pesto’s, stir fry’s, salads, juices, and steamed greens with this wild abundance. There are so much food and medicine growing outside most of our doors. Each season, the plants that are here to support our wellbeing present themselves. We must pay attention to it!