--by Dolores L. Nyerges
Copyright 1996, all rights reserved.
(courtesy of Dolores L. Nyerges, used with permission)
(See the original article here
When Christopher began preparing the
book Guide to Wild Foods for republication, I found myself thinking that I'd
like to write a chapter on the benefits of using wild food on a daily basis. I'd come to
so appreciate the many wild foods we had available, and frequently used.
The chapter seemed (almost) to
write itself. After publication, I continued researching and studying some of the topics
mentioned. Soon I had so much more that I wanted to share that I created this booklet,
which contains the original chapter and the additional data and new or expanded thinking
which resulted from the continued work. The new data is in italics.
WHY EAT WILD FOOD?
"Live light upon the land
if you would not be earthbound."
For years I thought "Wild food
would get me through an emergency, so I'm glad I'm familiar with the local wild
plants." Though I used wild food somewhat frequently, this context lurked,
unacknowledged, as one of the larger motivators for that use. It was only after marketing
Wild Salad (a mix of wild greens) through the local Certified Farmers' Markets that I
began to appreciate the broader opportunity that my knowledge affords. I was listening to
our sales spiel:
are fresh, picked this morning. Many of them are more nutritious than regular produce.
They have never been fertilized, waxed, nor treated with pesticides, herbicides, or
fungicides. They've not been genetically engineered. We wash our hands before we pick them
and then use tongs or gloves for any subsequent handling. And your dollars don't support
From hearing that spiel, and thinking
into the deeper meanings and ramifications, I saw my knowledge of wild food in quite a
different way, and realized that there were several very good reasons to use wild food on
a daily basis. And, from that process within myself, this chapter sprang to life.
It's hard to tell how fresh grocery
store produce is. We know that most produce comes from afar, and thus must be at least a
few days old. Irradiation, refrigeration, fungicide, and wax promote the appearance of
freshness long after an item would normally have shown signs of deterioration. Aging
produce loses its vitality quickly. We have seen reports from studies which measured the
vitamin and mineral loss as various fruits and vegetables sat on the grocery shelf.
In agribiz, saleability takes priority
over real freshness. Produce is hybridized specifically to make it more marketing-hardy,
and many things are picked before they are ready so that spoilage and bruising will be
minimized during the trip from farm to store. Many objectionable things are done to
produce to present a fresh appearance.
Until I actually worked in the
Certified Farmers' Markets, I had generally assumed that the produce available there was
fresh, and that asking the merchants was a reliable way to get information about their
produce (was it sprayed, etc.). I hasten to interject that I've concluded that the
Certified Farmers' Markets are the best "commercial" source of produce available
to those fortunate enough to have access to them, but one needs to shop with discretion.
Many farmers pick the whole crop at once and then "preserve" it for the selling
season. Apples, stone fruit, and grapes may be weeks or months old due to cold storage.
One must ask each farmer/merchant, always recalling that not everyone sees the value of
honesty. A fruit merchant lied to me for a couple of seasons about having unsprayed fruit.
Discovering the lie was a shock -- it awoke me to the need to be more careful.
When one knows and uses the local
wild foods, genuine freshness is assured. One can also harvest the food when it is at its
peak of readiness.
Edgar Cayce said at various times
during his readings that produce grown in one's locale is preferable to that brought in
from afar. This was partly about freshness, but also was about a particular suitability of
local flora as pertains to the consumer's physical affinity to the locale.
Avoid Hybridization/Genetic Engineering
As we've mentioned, plants destined
for the table are hybridized with saleability as the main goal. Nutritional value, flavor,
and other important qualities are given less consideration. Though this is a controversial
subject, there is research material available which suggests that agribiz hybridization is
an unsound practice. Many hybrids couldn't survive without the intense agribiz processes
of "farming." Consider, for example, the seedless grape and watermelon -- how
would they propagate in the wild?
Genetic engineering is yet another
means to the goal of maximum-saleability. Avoiding such "creations" will
probably be challenging in the foreseeable future even if laws require they be identified
on the grocers' shelves. Produce ends up in many food products (such as frozen pizza), and
the manufacturer of same may not know as much as we'd like about the produce bought for
his product, nor will he necessarily be required to share such details with us, the
consumers. Not only might the processed food in the grocery store be of uncertain
"heritage," but the dishes served in restaurants as well. Our ability to choose
what we eat is seriously threatened. If, for example, one has opted for vegetarianism on
moral grounds, it will probably become ever more difficult to be certain we aren't eating
something we'd object to.
Wild edibles have the opportunity to
be naturally strong, healthy, and adaptable. "Survival of the fittest" is their
unspoken motto. Without the unwise intervention of Mammon-focused humans, the unfit plants
simply don't survive.
In the year since I wrote this
section of the chapter, I've accumulated alot of data on genetic engineering. Many items
that have been genetically altered are now available in the marketplace.
The Calgene (called FlavrSavr)
tomato has been sold in the U.S. Another type of tomato is, according to the BBC, now
being sold in the United Kingdom in a tomato paste product. This UK tomato has an added
gene that increases storage-life. The product was approved by the British government
because the genetic alteration is considered "inert." The reporter opined that
government approval would be more difficult to get for the"genetically-active"
foodstuffs planned for release in the marketplace in the near future. The U.K. product is
also labeled as "genetically modified." The Canadian government does not require
that genetically-altered food products be labeled, according to this same reporter.
The growth hormone, bovine
somatotropin, is injected into dairy cows to increase milk production. This hormone,
abbreviated BST, is produced naturally in cows' pituitary glands but has never been
available in large amounts. Genetically altered bacteria are now used to make large
amounts of the hormone for commercial use.
Another genetically-altered product
is a vaccine given to chickens and turkeys. A gene was taken from the Newcastle disease
virus and was inserted into Fowl Pox virus. This vaccine is said to protect the birds from
Media reports cite numerous plans
and experiments for ways of genetically engineering drugs for human beings. Researchers
are now genetically altering pigs in hopes the animals will provide replacement organs for
human surgical patients.
Farmers now have access to numerous
genetically-altered seeds (which will be used to grow our food crops). There are types of
genetically-altered corn, soybeans, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and canola (for
oil-production). The "benefits" listed for these new food-sources sound
"Plant breeders already are
churning out new crop varieties with greater levels of protein, oil, starch, and amino
acids and better cooking and manufacturing characteristics. Animal breeders are developing
livestock that produce less fat and cholesterol."
In all cases I've become aware of,
the alterations are for the purpose of increasing profits. Look for yourself behind the
claims of "this will stop a disease, or foil a pest, or allow for longer
storage" for the reason these genetic alterations are made. Consider a few quotes I
selected here and there, mostly from the Internet:
"Roundup resistance is 'a
major breakthrough in soybean production technology' with the potential to change the
whole price structure in the herbicide market."
"Weed control with Roundup
may cost as little as $5 per acre."
"The Bt gene protects
potatoes from the Colorado potato beetle, an insect that costs farmers as much as $200 per
acre to control using conventional insecticides."
"European corn borers cause
as much as $1 billion in yield losses each year in the U.S. Each corn borer causes a yield
reduction of 5% per plant, and a field with an average of three ECB per plant could suffer
losses of $50 per acre. Tests by university researchers show that Bt corn provides 94%
control of severe ECB infestations."
"Bt hybrids yielded an
average of 13.76 more bushels per acre than did hybrids without the Bt gene."
"This technology is
powerful, but it must add to the bottom line."
"The first biotech food
crop approved for planting was developed for its longer shelf life and vine-ripened taste.
Instead of selling seed with the gene to farmers, the company decided to enter the tomato
production and marketing business directly. The company's motive stemmed from the size of
the respective markets. The market for tomato seed is only $15 to $20 million, while the
market for the sale of branded fresh tomatoes is estimated at $3.5 billion."
And the following quote reveals to
me the attitude of these big companies toward their fellow human beings, called so
cavalierly "the consumer":
"...the public uproar over
genetically altered crops seems to be on the wane. As (big bio-genetics company)
executives put it in their most recent annual report, 'The threats and bombast of the
biotech opponents have proved to be hollow and now seem largely irrelevant'."
I've felt leery about the idea of
genetic alteration ever since I first heard of it. Though I find that facts and thinking
are generally the better resources for decision/choice-making, I always pay heed to that
inner alert. So, I set out to find someone involved in the work of genetic engineering who
would talk honestly with me about the things that should concern us "consumers."
After having more than one "door shut in my face," I had the good fortune to
correspond with Douglas Lundberg, a teacher of genetic engineering at the Air Force
Academy in Colorado. I Asked specifically about the chances of genetically-altered flora
passing their genetic characteristics to the wild flora. I'd seen an article in the Los
Angeles Times about genetically-altered crops passing the herbicide-resistant gene to
adjacent "weeds," so I naturally wondered how safely we may assume our wild
flora are or will be purely natural. Mr. Lundberg replied (I've lightly edited, for
"I feel a bit uneasy about
this because it is pure speculation.
But, as I see it: There is some reason for caution. Our
current method of gene transfer is with DNA that has 'markers' so that we can determine if
actual transformation has taken place. With the Flavr-Svr tomato, there is a gene for
resistance to a particular antibiotic, chloramphenicol (spelling might be off) in every
cell of the tomato. This probably will do no harm to humans, but certainly increases this
'natural' gene's presence in our biosphere. Good or bad, I don't know. My concern is what
'marker' will be used tomorrow and what may be the ramifications of such widespread
existence? Today might be OK, tomorrow might not.
problem is that the unknown is so much larger than the known.
Can the genes be
transferred in the 'wild'? My opinion is yes. Bacteria, viruses and just normal uptake may
spread the genes to other plants. At this point, that may not be bad, but we just do not
Let me start at the
beginning. In the 80s, we learned that one can transfer genes through a virus or a
'plasmid.' That is, we can isolate a gene, insert it into a virus and then put the virus
into a cell -- any cell, human, bacteria or plant. This is called
"transformation". We thought that it was new and 'invented by man.' Apparently
not so. Since then we (in the 90s) have found that bacteria can transfer genes to other
organisms under certain circumstances. We have now even found that bits of DNA (genes)
laying around from dead organisms can be taken up by living organisms. For instance, if a
plant dies and decays in the wild, part of its DNA can be taken up by one-celled organisms
and transferred to others naturally. It appears that gene transfer is more of a natural
mechanism than was ever thought.
To go on, DNA is DNA.
It does not matter if it is from a hippo, mouse, bacteria, oak tree, cow or human. The
alphabet is the same! So genes can be transferred AND functional because of this
universality of the DNA code."
A couple of people expressed
concerns similar to mine in a Forum on-line (lightly edited for grammatical purposes):
"Can anyone help me
understand why everybody seems to want to get in to industrial genetics for food? The
benefits seem to be that tomatoes survive the frost, potatoes get larger, etc. (yes, and
maybe one finds a cure for cancer and/or a way to feed the starving millions in the world)
... but the main idea seems to be that the food giants get even bigger profits.
The risks seem to me to be
unknown consequences to the people eating the genetically-altered food (is anyone going to
believe that one can ascertain all the consequences in advance?), that a virus gets
genetically-altered 'by accident' with unkown consequences ...
Thus it seems to me that the
risks are much greater than the potential for benefit and that maybe we should leave this
pandora's box closed. Yes, even at the risk of not finding a cure for cancer now.
Or am I missing something
--Michael Salmony (Natural Medicine Forum on CompuServe).
"The genetic alterations
are not all good. The new attempts (successful) at producing a super soybean with Brazil
Nut genes backfired. Thousands of people are severely allergic to Brazil Nuts. Early tests
showed that these people were now allergic to this super soybean. What will happen when a
genetically altered food contains several or dozens of other food genes? I've written
about this in my book and in my columns for Nutrition Advocate. Whenever we get away from
natural foods we pay a price somewhere. Corn's alteration was gradual over several
centuries, but today it's one of the leading allergenic foods I encounter in my pediatric
--Charles Attwood, M.D. (Natural Medicine Forum on CompuServe)
Another participant in the Forum
offered the facts that we humans have been genetically-manipulating plants and animals for
thousands of years, by selective breeding/cross-breeding. He pointed out, accurately as
far as I know, that corn as we know it simply wouldn't exist if we hadn't
"created" it by selection processes. This person opined that genetic engineering
would be no more likely to create a dangerous virus (for example) than would nature
"on its own." Overall, he supposed that genetic engineering would be more
beneficial than problematical, and that opposition to it was fear born of ignorance.
"I'm not sure I am happy about
your tenet of my ignorance of science ... (I am a scientist, but obviously not in the
field of food/genetics) ... but the scientific method has taught me that a) no one can
predict the consequences of non-trivial actions (does anyone still believe that nuclear
power stations are 'safe' and can be controlled ... ?), and b) modern technology often
does things 'in principle' the same as before (a database is like a card file) but there
is often a qualitative difference as well as a quantitative one. I think in drawing the
parallel between classic mutations (due to gamma rays ...) or even traditional man-made
ones (cross fertilizing flowers to yield new types ...) to the modern industrial strength
genetic engineering one must surely see a difference not only in quantity (number of
mutations produced, difference to previous strains etc.) and also the quality (targeted
differences, genetics applied not for survival of the fittest but to maximize industrial
Call me an old fuddy-duddy if
you like, but I am worried about this development."
--Michael Salmony (Natural Medicine Forum on CompuServe)
"Unfortunately, we will not
know whether you are right or wrong until 50 years from now. The possible deleterious
effects if you are wrong are not worth the risk. Artificial selection and/or
cross-breeding cannot be anywhere near as intrinsically dangerous as anything that
uncontrolled science can do.
It's more a concern over the
unproven rather than a fear of the unknown. Genetic engineering hasn't been around long
enough for anyone to have determined what actually happens over the long term when such
things are done. Asbestos insulation was considered safe at one time. Silicon implants
were considered safe at one time. Leaded gasoline was considered safe at one time, as well
as lead in paint. Smoking was considered safe at one time. Fallout from atomic bombs was
considered safe at one time. It took decades to come to the conclusion that all of the
above were/are not safe at all. Personally, I do not wish to be the guinea pig in
--Jim Showalter (Natural Medicine Forum on CompuServe)
To Jim's comments about things once
considered safe, I must add antibiotics! Now we are finding that the "bugs" just
got stronger and more resistant. I think the notable difference between genetic
manipulation (i.e., selection) and genetic engineering (i.e. "force") is that
genetic engineering puts genes where they would "never go" naturally. You'd not
find the much-discussed human ear growing on a mouse's back as a result of genetic
manipulation. I'm not a "scientist," so I can only cite my best sources when it
comes to "scientific processes," but it seems to me that the activity, like
nearly all "work" done in agriculture, is greed-engendered (intended to bring in
more money) and isn't even focused on "the (real) improvement of the
species/cultivar" or "the nutritional or other (real) benefit of the
Doesn't history show us, across
the board, that when greed is the motivator, there is never a good outcome?
What's really incredible about the
genetic engineering big business is the legal fracas over "who owns the
creations." Greed compounded by arrogance?
From The Progressive Farmer, 1995:
"Although public outcry over biotech crops has softened,
a little publicized and sometimes bitter battle is being fought within the biotech
industry itself over who owns this new technology.
The fight is over patent rights. These patents can include
the genes as well as the methods of transferring them. Biotech companies say they need
patent protection to secure their multimillion-dollar investments in research and
Mycogen versus Monsanto is a case in point. The companies
had been negotiating over a licensing agreement for transfer of Bacillus thuringiensis
Following a breakdown in the negotiations, Mycogen sued
Monsanto. Mycogen claims ownership of a patent covering all insect-resistant transgenic
plants now under development that use synthetic gene technology. Mycogen officials say
their goals are to settle out of court, allow Monsanto to commercialize Bt crops, and be
paid for the rights to their patent.
Monsanto officials say the company has been developing this
technology for 15 years and that Monsanto products will be marketed freely despite
One more point. Just as biotech companies vigorously defend
gene technology against the competition, you can also expect them to come down hard on any
farmers who use so-called brown bag seed sales and violate plant variety protection
Avoid Unnatural Fertilizer
Nature fertilizes flora in many ways,
via animal droppings, earthworm castings, and decaying organic matter such as fallen
leaves. This natural plant food is delivered in balanced, appropriate amounts. The
Mammon-focused human farmer applies commercial "plant food," which today is
nearly always from petro-chemical sources, creating "floraddicts" which become
unable to live naturally.
There are many other recognized
objections to the use of commercial fertilizers. We cannot properly deal with this complex
and controversial subject here, and suggest you study already-published information. Wild
flora grow where conditions favor them, and continue to survive, even thrive, without
applications of commercial fertilizer. This speaks for itself.
We don't advocate "just letting
all the plants grow wild." The nurturing of flora is a crucial part of humanity's
spiritual development. Such nurturing might properly include the type of work done by
Luther Burbank. Some of his creations live on today as testimonials to his loving efforts
toward the exercise of dominion in the world of flora. Both agriculture and horticulture
must have begun that way -- but gradually fell to ignorance, pragmatism, and greed.
Avoid Pesticides/Herbicides/Fungicides, etc.
There are many good works in print
which detail the myriad chemical applications used on/in our food, and the many
detrimental health effects that have been scientifically documented. We highly recommend
that you read the books listed in our bibliography, and study these issues yourself,
rather than "taking our word for it."
By now, most of us are aware that
food, including produce, is treated to a wide range of potentially-hazardous chemical
processes, all to enhance saleability. Soil, seeds, seedlings, growing/mature plants,
fruits, and even packaging and storage facilities may receive doses of poison for one
"reason" or another. In many cases, "they" don't have to tell us.
For several years I owned and operated
a commercial organic garden service. An associate of mine who had a "regular"
garden service became severely ill and spent weeks in the hospital with a perplexing
disease of the immune- system. He told me one day that he felt a deep certainty that his
problems had resulted from years of handling the pesticides and herbicides he routinely
used in his garden service. And I felt a deep certainty that what he was saying was right.
"Scientists" would dismiss this as anecdotal evidence, but, given the
compromises and dishonesty that riddle our sources of "scientific evidence," I
often find that a heart-felt response to anecdotal evidence is worth as much or more than
Wild plants are, for the most part,
free of chemical treatments of any kind. Those of us who choose to avoid chemical
additions to our food have a great resource in the wild flora. There are ways, of course,
that wild flora can be contaminated. Some cities/counties use pesticides and herbicides in
areas under their jurisdiction. Select your wild food picking areas carefully!
It's fairly common knowledge that many
items of grocery produce are coated with a "food-grade" wax in order to retard
spoilage. What many people don't know is the extent of the recipients of the wax
applications: would you believe chili peppers? Eggplant? Did you know that grocers are not
required to list the pesticides and fungicides that are added to the wax, nor explain to
you that lac resin (a standard wax ingredient) is excreta from the insect Laccifer lacca,
the very source of shellac (with which we paint furniture)?
Wild flora are not coated with any
such possibly-toxic and unappetizing-sounding substance. Any "bug poop" thereon
was applied naturally, and can easily be washed off.
For a thorough explanation of
irradiation, see chapter 13 of Diet For a Poisoned Planet by David Steinman. Though some
health food stores display signs proclaiming that they won't sell irradiated food, my
understanding is that, at this time, spices are the main type of food item that get this
treatment. We can be certain that no wild foods have been irradiated. And there are many
wonderful spices growing indigenously about. In our area we have bay leaf, fennel,
California pepper, and several types of sage, just to mention a few.
Dr. Gary Gibbs, an expert on food
irradiation, (author of The Food That Would Last Forever: Understanding the Dangers of
Food Irradiation), stated several things in Nutrition and Healing magazine, May 1995.
--irradiation creates toxic molecules not found in nature.
--irradiation destroys a number of vitamins, amino acids, and essential fatty acids.
--irradiation increases aflatoxin production by more than one hundred fold.
--when a percentage of lab animals' diet was irradiated, the animals suffered respiratory
problems, enlarged hearts, morbidity, and premature death.
--children who ate irradiated wheat developed abnormal white blood cells.
--the foods now approved for irradiation are fruits, vegetables, wheat, flour, herbs,
spices, nuts, seeds, peas, pork, and chicken. Irradiation does kill e. coli and
salmonella, so the meat processors are very interested in using it. It's cheaper than
keeping good sanitation.
--The FDA requires a label only if 'whole food' is irradiated and then sold unchanged. If
you process it in any way or add any other ingredient to it, no label disclosure is
required. A fresh, whole tomato requires a label indicating that it's been irradiated. A
package of tomato soup made from irradiated tomatoes can be sold with no indication that
irradiation has been involved in the processing of the ingredients.
The stated purpose for irradiation,
to "stop spoilage," sounds good. It seems to me that time and money would be
much better spent in finding ways to get fresh food to "consumers," not in
finding ways to keep it stored longer, and/or to hide the fact that it's old. I have felt
the same uneasiness about irradiation that I feel about genetic alteration, which is why
I've included the information I've found. I would go out of my way to avoid irradiated
food. However, as always, please research for yourself -- don't take my word for it!
This group, I'm told, is working
to ban irradiation. They may be a good source of information about the process.
Food and Water, Inc.
3 Whitman Drive
Denville, New Jersey 07834
In recent years we've heard more and
more about food-borne disease. E. coli and salmonella are well-known, having been widely
discussed in the news. We associate these with undercooked meat, not realizing that E.
coli in particular could easily be spread via any food (like salad) that was handled and
not subsequently well-cooked or, at least, washed in very hot water.
Many types of produce could easily
bring dozens of socially-transmissible diseases directly onto our plates, simply because
much produce is used raw, and is too delicate for washing in water hot enough to kill any
bacteria or viruses present. Though this may be uncomfortable to consider, the fact is
that hands pass not only E. coli, but many cold and flu types of illnesses. Tuberculosis
is passed fairly easily by various social interactions. Inquire for yourself to discover
who picks the produce you buy, and if they can/do frequently wash their hands with hot
water and soap throughout the workday. Do they always shield the produce from sneezes and
coughs? How? And, then, what about the employees at the Central Market where the produce
goes between farm and grocery store? Next, think about everyone who might handle produce
in the grocery store, including perhaps dozens of customers each day.
Chances are, the wild foods you pick
and consume will have been handled only by you and/or your family.
The following is a list, and brief
description of several diseases you could pick up from produce bought at the store:
Shigellosis comes from Shigella, a group of bacteria that cause
gastrointestinal illness. The illness usually includes fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhea
with or without blood in the stools. Transmission of Shigella is through
direct contact with an infected person, or from food or water contaminated by an
infected person. Handwashing with soap and running water is the single most
important preventive measure to interrupt transmission of shigellosis. Excluding
persons with diarrhea from handling food and limiting the use of home-prepared foods at
large gatherings will reduce the risk of large outbreaks caused by foodborne transmission.
Antibiotic resistance among Shigella is increasing.
Listeria monocytogenes is found in soil and water.
Vegetables can become contaminated from the soil or from manure used as fertilizer.
Wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating. Wash hands, knives,
and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods.
Tuberculosis, as already mentioned, is easily passed
through close social contact, including through the handling of any type of food.
Some types of tuberculosis are antibiotic-resistant.
Entamoeba histolytica can be carried on vegetables that
have been handled by unwashed hands. Amebiasis is transmitted by fecal contamination
of drinking water and foods, but also by direct contact with dirty hands or objects.
Infections that sometimes last for years may be accompanied by 1)
no symptoms, 2) vague gastrointestinal distress, 3) dysentery (with blood and mucus). Most
infections occur in the digestive tract but other tissues may be invaded. Complications
include 4) ulcerative and abscess pain and, rarely, 5) intestinal blockage.
Caused by Cryptosporidium Parvum, this disease can be accompanied by severe watery
diarrhea. Pulmonary and tracheal cryptosporidiosis in humans is associated with
coughing and frequently a low-grade fever. Cryptosporidium sp. could occur,
theoretically, on any food touched by a contaminated food handler. Incidence is
higher in child day care centers that serve food.
Humans worldwide are infected with Ascaris lumbricoides and
Trichuris trichiura; the eggs of these roundworms (nematode) are "sticky"
and may be carried to the mouth by hands, other body parts, fomites (inanimate objects),
Infected foodhandlers may contaminate a wide variety of foods.
HAV is excreted in feces of infected people and can produce clinical disease when
susceptible individuals consume contaminated water or foods. Contamination of foods by
infected workers in food processing plants and restaurants is common.
Rotaviruses cause acute gastroenteritis. Infantile
diarrhea, winter diarrhea, acute nonbacterial infectious gastroenteritis, and acute
viral gastroenteritis are names applied to the infection caused by the most common and
widespread group A rotavirus.
Infected food handlers may contaminate foods that require handling and no further
cooking, such as fresh vegetables and fruit.
These are a few of the illnesses I
found listed when I did an Internet search. We haven't even looked at the many
"cold" and "flu" illnesses that can be passed via food-handling. Here
is an address for additional information, and the source of some of the listings above:
--Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for
Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road,
Mailstop C09, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.
Some Moral and Spiritual Considerations
We will all bear the responsibility
for what we have supported with our dollars. Though, probably, it's neither possible nor
wise to utterly isolate oneself from the "evil world," one needs to exercise
choice for the better at every opportunity. The food industry, speaking particularly of
America, is fraught with unconscionable practices that we ought not support.
Learning about and harvesting those
wild foods available to us is one way to remove dollar-support from, at least, the agribiz
part of the food industry.
The Influence of Thoughts and Desires
The thinking and desiring done by the
humans which are involved in our food-production and handling can have an effect on us
through the food. Much produce is imbued with greed simply because of the reasons for
which it is grown (i.e., solely to make money). Added to this will be the thoughts and
desires entertained by the pickers, packers, shippers, wholesalers, and grocery employees.
The saying "you are what you eat" has more meaning than we supposed. Many
packaged goods can be stored long enough for these influences to dissipate. Not so with
Learning to identify and to use the
wild flora around your area to replace as much of your purchased produce as possible will
offer the unusual benefit of freeing you from a lot of non-physical pollution. You may
then pick it with love and care and bring home elevated ingredients for your sustenance.
To put it baldly, many regular produce
items are killed plants. The head of lettuce, the bunch of spinach, the root crops like
carrots, the celery -- all plants destroyed in the picking. Wise stewardship involves
gentle nurturing of the flora that sustain us. Killing (of animals or plants) is not
necessary in order to live, and is, in fact, part of the thinking-pattern that produces
cancer. Wherever possible, it is best to leave at least one-seventh of the plant so that
it may continue to live. A Great Teacher of ours, Shining Bear, pinched the little tips,
buds, and flowers, and collected the seeds of his wild food sources. He never, to my
knowledge, destroyed these flora-friends.
Other Health Benefits
We have all heard of the damaging
health-effects of worry and stress. Preparedness and the ability to be self- reliant can
contribute to a general sense of well-being and ease. The fresh air and exercise available
through active food-foraging can also be beneficial. Information is available on the
favorable health-effects of a raw food diet. With a good food-processor, one can make
fresh, nutritious raw drinks, dips, dressings, seed butters, and hot (but not cooked)
soups with wild flora, in addition to the more typical salad-type dishes.
Simply being in a meadow of wild flora
can be joy-promoting. Try this experiment: find a commercial field of produce and just
stand in it. Note what you feel and what thoughts you have. Then spend some time in a
field of wild flora (I feel quite uplifted in the midst of a golden expanse of flowering
We've considered a number of reasons
to learn to identify and use wild plants for food. Wild flora often have superior
nutritional qualities, whether eaten cooked or raw. Such foraging is a great way to avoid
the drawbacks of agribiz produce: hybridization, genetic engineering, commercial
fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide, lack of freshness, fungicide, wax,
socially-transmissible diseases, and unhealthy thought/desire influences. Foraging also
allows us to withdraw our dollar-support from agribiz. It's also good for us to get out in
the fresh air, get some exercise, and spend time with truly happy flora, and to harvest
the useful ones in a loving manner.
We regularly forage in selected areas
around our city. Also, here at home, we generally allow wild flora (er, "weeds")
to grow wherever they choose to on our property. We thoughtfully avoid tampering or
willful domination, while simultaneously trying to discover the ways to lovingly nurture
these wonderful flora-friends.
Diet for a New America by John Robbins
Diet for a Poisoned Planet by David Steinman
The Findhorn Garden by the Findhorn Community
Thanks to Shining Bear for unique guidance and training
to Susan Robbins of the Vegetarian Forum on CompuServe
to Chris Mitchell of the Vegetarian Forum on CompuServe
to Johnny Lynch, teacher of the Vegetarian No-Cooking Class
to Charles Attwood, M.D., author of Dr. Attwood's Low-Fat Prescription for Kids and
columnist for Nutrition Advocate.
This saying (LIVE LIGHT UPON THE
LAND) has taken on new meaning for me. It now means "don't be heavily invested in
earthsurfacey things." We could spend the rest of our lives accumulating all the
facts about wax, pesticide, genetic engineering, diseases, etc. We could speculate about
outcomes, and fight "the system," and work endlessly to pass laws, but, so long
as greed compels our commerce, do we really think we can stop the genetics scientists, and
the big fertilizer companies, and the huge food companies, agribiz farmers, etc. from
doing things that may hurt us?
We've thought, "then, we'll
separate ourselves, grow OUR gardens organically, buy open-pollinated seeds, etc., but we
find that pollution can't be shut out or away. We're also finding that genetically altered
flora pass the genetic changes to other flora. We do need to learn, and to speak out about
what we learn. No question about that. But allowing the "out there" activities,
and the efforts to change the world, shouldn't take priority over our doing and thinking
right in our own lives.
Find the wild floralbeings and
joyfully interact with them. Ask them what care they need in return. Take bits of natural
fertilizer with you when you go harvesting (natural tobacco is good). Give the wild flora
servings of "liquid compost" that you've made in your blender. Do a joyful
breath-exchange with these floral-friends. Lovingly exhale your carbon dioxide on them,
then inhale the oxygen they release. There may be a danger that the Frankenflora will
spread their mouse or virus (or?) genes to the wild flora in the future. We shouldn't
acquiesce to that, and it's appropriate to communicate our concerns as we see fit. But,
the positive action of appreciating and nurturing the wild, pure flora all around us now,
should take priority over any "battle out there." Worry, and negative thinking
affect our immune systems detrimentally. Taking positive action, privately in one's own
life, is a much healthier course than worrying about creeping genes. We are free to work
at transforming any greediness in our own lives. This is much more important than trying
to do away with greed "out there." We can effect this transformation by the
proper, loving care and stewardship of those things that we have to use and care for in
our lives, including the wild floral food sources.
"Nothing in the world of living things is
--Hans Zinnser--Rats, Lice and History, 1935