By Phreddy Wischusen
Thursday, 25 April 2013
I was watching TV the other day. Commercial break. Cut to a lush green lawn. A single yellow dandelion springs up through the emerald expanse. The heroic protagonist appears left. He spies the flower, runs, dives, somersaults onto the lawn and pops up sturdily on one knee. Brandishing a bottle of weed killer, he fires. The patented nozzle rains hell on the defenseless sunbather. The flower withers. And dies. The lawn-owner is triumphant. Right?
Though considered a weed by Round Up and many home/lawn owners in the United States, the dandelion is actually an incredibly nutritious food. It’s a great source of calcium, potassium, iron and manganese. It’s replete with vitamins A, C, E, K, Niacin and Riboflavin. Chock full of beta-carotene. The lecithin in its golden top detoxifies the liver. The roots can be roasted to make a coffee substitute, or used in soups. The leaves (tastiest after they first emerge for the season or after the first frost) can be eaten, as can its sweet yellow blossoms. People use them in salads raw, boil them, fry them with bacon, marinate them in vinegar, and sauté them with fresh garlic. Did you ever notice that if you break the stem of a dandelion that a milky white liquid comes out? Well, you can use that liquid to ease the pain of bee stings and sores. Remember the advice of the great ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. These vitamins and minerals boost the immune system, fight anemia, and help prevent the development of type II diabetes. Remember the brain is a part of our body as well. Healthy bodies mean healthy brains. Proper nutrition prevents depression and anxiety and improves concentration. Scientists even believe that lecithin may help combat Alzheimer’s.
Other cultures consume dandelions regularly. My friend Ricardo has spent many summers living in Greece. I asked him how similar the food in Greek town was to food “normal” people eat in Greece. “Very similar” he told me “with one crucial difference. The Greek grandmothers gather fresh greens (dandelions especially) every day. Then they add these greens to tomato and cucumber salads, to meals of roasted lamb, and spinach pie.” Even in Pensacola, Florida, my friend Kate’s yaya would often demand that the car be pulled over so she could pick fresh dandelion greens off the side of the road.
The dandelion doesn’t simply nourish humans; it nourishes other plants as well. Year after year this perennial often reappears in spite of all the mowings, weedings, and poisonings it endures. This is because the dandelion has a “taproot”, a long twisted root that can grow three feet deep within the earth. The taproot brings minerals and nutrients not available at the soil’s surface to neighboring plants with shorter roots. The taproot connects us to less contaminated parts of Mother Earth. It connects us to our foundations.
In the Round Up commercial, the protagonist is only truly successful in poisoning his home, his body and his mind while he prostrates himself before his corporate overlords.