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ancestral eating

I hope you’re enjoying this warmer weather and have been getting outside in nature… it’s so good for the soul!

I’m sure I mentioned before that Spring is my very favorite time of year. As the days get warmer, I’m able to spend more time outdoors (my happy place) with more opportunities to engage in more ancestral eating.

I’ve been taking some long walks and have foraged for some delicious ancestral foods and some invasive wild edibles such as ramps, dandelionsvioletschickweedforsythiamullein, and purple dead nettle. Some of these I used for food and some for medicine…and some for Both!

ancestral eating

I love knowing that many of these same plants made up the diets of our hunter-gatherer ancestors and continued long after established agriculture began.

Our ancient ancestors seemed to know the healing properties of these foods and truly lived the “food is medicine” lifestyle without putting a name to it.  To them, it was simply what you did for nourishment, healing, and survival.

Today, many herbalists know that ancestral eating contributes significantly to our overall health and wellbeing and believe that the food we consume IS medicine. What could be better for you than to eat as locally as possible from foods that grow wild in that environment?

What Exactly is Ancestral Eating?

To be clear, the motivation behind ancestral eating isn’t to mimic exactly what our ancestors ate. It’s to eat what they would’ve had reasonable access to. It’s about avoiding modern, processed, industrialized food. Eating ancestrally is more about what you don’t eat than what you do and is centered around eating real food, or food that is as close to its natural state as possible. Ancestral food doesn’t have ingredients – it is the ingredients!

Ancestral eating is simply eating unrefined, unprocessed, whole foods that have been around for thousands and thousands of years. This includes:

  • grass-fed, wild animals
  • wild seafood
  • pastured chicken and eggs
  • organic fruits and vegetables
  • wild edible plants
  • healthy, traditional fats like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, lard, butter, etc.
  • grass-fed, full-fat raw dairy
  • fermented foods
ancestral eating

It’s crazy to think that many of these wild edible foods still graced our grandparent’s dinner tables, made up a large part of their diets, and were used widely for medicinal purposes just a few generations ago. Sadly, today they’re either forgotten, classified as weeds, or thought of as  something to be eradicated. I believe it’s no coincidence that modern chronic diseases have run rampant as wild foods disappeared from our diet.

If you have not considered adding wild edible plants to your diet or using spring flowers or weeds for food or medicine, what are you waiting for? Isn’t it time to take back some of that early ancestral knowledge?  

Wild food is brimming with vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, phytonutrients, and antioxidants; the very things in short supply in our conventional diet. These are the world’s most nutritionally potent superfoods.

 

 

The Outdoor Apothecary

Here are some easy spring foods that you might want to consider gathering for food and medicine. Each one I’ve written about on my blog so If you want to read more, simply click on the links.

Mullein – The health benefits of mullein are many and varied. Mullein is a valuable herb for treating respiratory illness, coughs, and congestion and can be taken as a tea. For earache, it can be applied to the inner ear as oil or even used as a poultice for healing.

Dandelion– There are so many health benefits of dandelion, from its amazing vitamin content to its skin healing. There are few weeds that can rival it. A couple of my favorite things to make with it are dandelion salve which is wonderful for hard-working hands, and dandelion root tincture which can be used to support overall health and wellbeing as well as for liver, kidney, digestive, and gallbladder support.

Purple dead nettle– Purple dead nettle is a highly nutritious wild edible herb that also has many medicinal properties. I like to use it in this basic salve containing just 2 (or 3) ingredients. It can be used on itchy, dry, irritated, chapped, or sore skin.

Chickweed – Aside from its edible and culinary uses, chickweed has many medicinal benefits, like this chickweed tea.

Forsythia – In addition to their cheery presence, there are a surprising number of other uses for forsythia. Their flowers and young leaves can be eaten and their fruit used for medicine. In fact, I use it for medicinal teaforsythia syrupforsythia Infused Oil, and forsythia salve.

Violets– Are a delicious culinary treat and add an elegant touch to cakes, cookies, and baked goods. They are also healing herbs with anti-inflammatory, expectorant, and diuretic properties. A few easy preparations are violet simple syrup and violet honey.

Many of these wild weeds are also crucial for the survival of certain pollinators, butterflies, or bumblebees, so leave plenty for them and consider growing and/or spreading native weeds around if you can.

Happy foraging and feasting!

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