3 Herb Mamas

21-Day Real Wild Food Challenge & Ponderings

on May 19, 2014

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A generous gallon-sized  colander serves as my gathering basket three times a day and returns to the kitchen loaded with both organically cultivated and wild-crafted foods.

I have a penchant for challenging myself to look at my own assumptions, perceptions, and perspectives. When I reach that jaded, all-too-familiar point where I think I know what comes next or how things work…every time…I like to shake things up and turn my world on its head so I can look at it with new eyes and come to it with a beginner’s mind. So, a few days ago I decided to challenge myself to 21 days of eating only real (mostly from our garden and farm) and wild foods. The goal is not to lose weight or even “clean up my diet.” Rather, it is an exercise in awareness.

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Blueberry and Red Raspberry leaves, Nettles tops, and Lemon Balm destined for the teapot 

Like many of these “games of awareness” I like to play, this one was designed and embraced in a flash of a moment of insight, seemingly out of the blue, and was led by a cluster of little “What if…?” questions. Because I said yes to the inspiration, I spent almost no time in planning or setting up parameters. I am figuring those out as I go along and questions arise. I’ll describe the beginning phase of my challenge below but first here are some of my “What if’s…”:

What if…

…I look to the Earth and its provision daily instead of the weekly sale flyers, my budget, or coupon circulars to decide what to eat?

…the seasonal abundance informs my food choices rather than diet plans or nutritional philosophies?

…I trust that real food, just as it is, is really good for me?

…I belong here and my life, health, and vitality are supported by the Earth, the sun, the atmosphere (creating all these weather patterns and seasons), and beyond? 

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What if…tea doesn’t come from a bag with a string on it, or a box or a tin? What if…it comes from my yard and garden? 

We have a fair amount of early greens, herbs and edibles in our permaculture beds now so I qualify this as “real” food. I know some wild food plants and I know that they are available and easy to obtain right outside my door so I qualify these as “real wild” foods that nourish parts of me beyond RDA’s, food pyramids or My Plate analysis and assessments. I don’t want this to be laborious or tedious so I allow things like olive oil, butter, grains, etc. When I purchase or obtain these from our pantry I simply ask myself, “Is this real?” If I can picture someone(s) gathering in a harvest of olives and pressing them, dairying that involves milking, culturing or churning, harvesting wheat or rice and minimally processing, then I deem it “real”. Just try to envision how that can of spray cheese comes to be and you get the idea of what my mind cannot wrap itself around as “real” although its existence is a pretty wild concept to me. Remember, this is a self-created challenge on the order of playmates deciding to “pretend we’re Robinhood and his Merry Men living in Sherwood Forest” so it is about the romp and the discoveries more than the science and theory.

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Real & Wild Breakfast: a variety of braised garden-grown and wild-crafted greens (kale, spinach, dandelion, mallow, lamb’s quarters, garlic mustard, nettles, wild onion) with curried free-range eggs and a light crumbling of goat cheese; home canned peaches and fresh grapefruit; homemade corn crepe.

As I said, I am only a few days into my challenge. I am recording what I gather and eat, how I feel, and my reflections on the process. At the end of 21 days I will share some of these and welcome feedback and any ideas it might spark for others. I am taking pictures of many of the meals, plants, nature treks, and other inspired adventures beyond food…like making goat milk soap or cheese.

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When a spring cold threatened in the family I asked, what if…pots of fresh herbal teas and rich Garlic soup (and rest) can address it as well as antihistamines and pain relievers? 

Lots of ‘What if’s…?” to explore and many discoveries lie ahead in the next few weeks. Wishing you a season of growth, abundance, and an awareness of your place in the grand scheme of life. ~Leenie


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