Monday, July 2, 2012

Trading for herbal medicine

So Saturday, I traded one herbal remedy and one herbal beverage for a tire. I'm not sure it was a fair trade, but what in this life is fair?

I had been planning to go out and gather elderflowers for a week or so, and was hoping the temps would drop from the high 90s every day. But it was not to be. So at 8:45-ish I drove out with my pruners and my basket, my jeans and my sneakers. I had no trouble spotting elderberries. Getting to them can be a challenge. They like to live near creeks and ditches, and walking (creeping cautiously) through that rough ground with 4-ft-tall grasses and forbs ... well ... it was hot and I knew there were ticks out there. Sometime before my jeans were actually saturated with sweat, however, I deemed I had enough elderflower. And each place I gathered had plenty of other flowers to become berries this summer and feed everyone. Everyone = animals who eat elderberries.

That's a thing about sustainable, responsible foraging or wildcrafting. You must not only know what plant to get, say, elderflowers versus cow parsley flowers or spotted hemlock flowers, which both look sort of similar to elderberry. (Okay, I don't think they do, but it's documented that people make mistakes, right?) (This kind of mistake can cost you your life. Period.) ... But you must also know how much of what you take is too much. If you can only find one patch of a plant in your area you should leave it alone. These plants have enough troubles trying to exist whilst being sprayed, mowed and bladed. They do the best job they can while Monsanto and farmers try to poison them out of existence. So, when you find a lot of a plant please just take some of it. To me "some" is a quarter of that patch or less. Then it's time to move on.

This brings up another important point. Make sure the plants you are gathering from have not been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides. Talk to landowners. If this all seems like a lot of trouble, then grow your own. It is a lot of trouble! But quite often these plants and the land they are on don't belong to you, and you really have no business gathering if you haven't talked to the landowners. And you can grow your own, but it takes a long time to grow enough to make a recipe of anything. the supreme advantage of growing your own is that you know if it has been sprayed and with what. Do your research. So back to talking to people. Do it. they're going to look at you funny, so what? You can look at them funny for not using these marvelous plants.

Ah, but I do go on!

There was something about trading for tires in this story, was there not?


Lori said...

I did NOT make you do it.

jackson freeman said...

One can almost visualize prehistoric man struggling from arthritic pain, then looking for herbal remedies by test and error, to find an efficient source of comfort.

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