Wednesday 10 April 2013

Nature's Abundance

In the last few years I have often thought fleetingly on the sheer glut of food that nature provides free for the taking. Just here on the small island I call home, succulent blackberries, elderflowers, salmonberries abound. Huckleberries are prolific. Apple laden trees display their fruit to people passing by. Plum trees hang swollen, ripe for the picking.

Yet seldom do we take advantage of it. Preferring instead the ready-made, vacuum-packaged items at our local supermarket, or occasionally buying from farmers' markets and roadside stands.

I used to wonder at what point Nature, so ignored, would simply not bother anymore. But I know better. Nature, unlike us, keeps giving. Regardless. Season after season. Year after year whether anyone notices or not.

As I wander further along my path of learning about the medicinal properties of the wild plants of Coastal British Columbia, I am amazed at just how much more giving and abundant nature is than I first imagined. It's impossible to learn about the medicinal properties of a plant without venturing into its nutritional aspect. All of a sudden, the much-maligned dandelion has tremendous health benefits, it's young leaves delicious in salads, its sunny yellow flowers a culinary delight as pan fried fritters!

The nasty nettle, cursed for its sting, is much sought after for many medicinal uses. The leaves provide an abundance of healthy dishes from soups, to steamed greens and scruptious nettle spanakopita. And that's just the beginning.

Venturing into edible plants of the area, weeds become gourmet salad, the budding maple trees food for the table, and then there is the ocean, full of nutritious seaweed.

There is so much to learn. So much to explore. And so very, very much to be grateful for...

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