Sow Thistle Lasagna

Sow Thistle Lasagna

Doesn’t thistle lasagna just sound sooooooo appetizing. Most of us have memories of getting pricked and poked by this plant, so the thought of actually eating it conjures up a lot of skepticism. All of the ‘true’ thistles are of the genus Cirsium are edible (along with others). Many people like artichokes, spiny lobster, and tequila, so just think of those thorns as protecting a very good food source. Once you remove the thorns you can eat the leaves, peel the stalks for a crispy raw vegetable, or use the roots as you would other root vegetables. Of course all thistles vary in taste and palatability. Common/ smooth sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) is not a ‘true’ thistle. It does have very small thorns, but young leaves can easily be eaten raw or lightly cooked. Although the photo is poor, below you can see a full grown plant, it looks like a large overgrown dandelion. Click here to see more detailed photos of the plant. Common sow thistle is a nutritional superstar. Click here to read a 2002 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which found the plant to be high in lutein. Click here to read a study published in Food Chemistry in 2000 showing Mediterranean green pies, which contain Sonchus oleraceus , to have 12 times more quercetin than a glass of red wine and 3 times more quercetin than a cup of black tea. Click here to read a study published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition in 2004 showing its high content of flavonols. Sow Thistle Lasagna olive oil one...
Sam Thayer Price on Northern Spirit Radio

Sam Thayer Price on Northern Spirit Radio

Sam Thayer Price is one of the most inspirational people I know. His words are so deep, as if his roots have grown to the absolute core of the earth and pulled out all that essential, meaningful goodness and wisdom that we need at this time. Sam’s recently published book The Forager’s Harvest is THE BEST book I have on wild foods. Click here to listen to an interview of Sam by Mark Helpsmeet, on Northern Spirit Radio (click on the microphone symbol half way down the page). Here’s a taste of the interview. Mark: My understanding is that agriculture evolved because it gave us more control. It meant we could increase the food supply, it meant that we could prevent the seasons of famines and abundance, both of which enriched and dessimated humanity throughout the ages. Why would we want to go back to that which leads to such vulnerability on the part of our race? Sam: One of the misconceptions in that statement, which is very prevalent in our society, is that cultivating plants/agriculture made our food sources more stable and more reliable. The archeological evidence and ethnographical evidence is pretty emphatic that the opposite was the case; that as subsistence cultures around the world moved from hunting and gathering economies to an agricultural economy, they had less stability, they were more poorly nourished, people’s overall body size became smaller….society tends to rely on a very small number of foods, maybe 6 or 7 plant foods comprising most of their diet, whereas those people who were living off wild food would have a larger number of foods...
Traveling the Wild Food Road

Traveling the Wild Food Road

Traveling the Wild Food Road will lead you to places you never thought you would go. On my journey from Arizona back to my home in Topanga Canyon, CA I decided to take a detour into farm country. About half way between Phoenix and Los Angeles, sitting on the Lower Colorado River border between the two states, sits Blythe. I have always known this as the town where I need to be sure all my citrus that I’ve picked from Grandma’s backyard trees in Phoenix are well covered so they don’t get confiscated. I couldn’t find any organic farmers in the area, but was able to find a small family farmer who is still hanging on amid the big guys in the area. Joe Van Dyke has been farming in Blythe since 1970. He is not organic, instead he is of the school that responsible use of chemicals leads to better land management. Although I personally prefer organic, I would rather support local small-scale farmers who use small amounts of chemicals when needed, to the large scale organic farmers who are still out of touch with the land. Joe very happily let me pick his weeds. I found it interesting that he actually drives a refrigerated truck down to Phoenix once a week to buy wild salad mixes for Quizno’s. This sandwich shop actually markets wild greens as ‘spring greens’ in their stores. Hmmmmm, makes you think. Although mallow (Malva neglecta) was by far the most common wild green I saw growing in the desert, I mainly harvested the sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) and lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) from his...

Teleconference call with Linda Runyon

Last Thursday I was lucky to be part of an awesome teleconference call with Linda Runyon. She is a published author, has been eating wild foods as the majority of her diet for the majority of her life, has taught extensively to the military on survival using wild foods, and was a consultant on the biosphere project. The interview was facilitated by John Gallager of Learning Herbs, and I really thank John for hosting the call. Did you know that 10 dandelion leaves contains more calcium than a glass of milk? That 1/2 cup of lambsquarter (Chenopodium sp.) seeds has 19.6 grams of protein, compared to just 9 or 10 grams found in a steak? That same 1/2 cup of seeds contains 1,036 mg of calcium, comparable to 8 glasses of milk. This is the kind of quality nutritional information found in Linda’s book From Crabgrass Muffins to Pine Needle Tea. The book is part field guide, part cookbook, part environmental lifestyle guide. She paired up with Dr. James Duke to have the nutritional analysis done on the wild food plants highlighted in her book – you can click here to visit Dr. Duke’s phytochemical and ethnobotanical database. Click here to listen to the taped teleconference call. It will only be online for a short time, so LISTEN...
Interview with Patty West

Interview with Patty West

Things are looking up for Patty West. She loves wild foods, wants to celebrate them, be respectful of them, and to get the communities who want to become more involved with them together. Patty is committed to helping with this and says, “We want to have a way to buy it, produce it, pick it from our backyards, and bring it to the community.” Patty calls herself a free-range botanist. She remembers her grandfather, a farmer, taking her out into the woods in upstate New York to harvest wild foods. Her love of plants continued from there. When I asked her why people should be eating wild foods, she said she doesn’t necessarily think they should unless they want to. “For me it’s like a sacrament…I think people can benefit from it, but I don’t think everyone should do it if they don’t want to. Some people don’t like the taste of different things and that’s ok.” I asked Patty about global climate change. She says, “In our state climate change is a big issue, but for us it’s gonna be more immediate because we don’t have any farmers because all the places that were good to farm are built up. Climate change is happening fast, but not that fast. Basically all the places that grow food are being bulldozed.” Click here to visit the American Farmland Trust. This website has online maps which show all the areas that would be good to farm, alongside those showing areas which are also in areas good for development. Securing these hot zones for food security are part of American Farmland Trust’s...