Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dandelions, enemy or friend

Yesterday I was inspecting my perennial flower garden for signs of life,as we did not have much of a snow blanket this winter and it is needed for their protection. Not only did I see that many of my flower plants were coming to life, but I saw many young dandelions plants emerging.

It brought me back to my childhood days during the 1940's. At that time it seemed that during early Spring each year, everyone was foraging for dandelion greens, young fiddlehead ferns and milkweed shoots, as well as dock plants. All of these greens were delicious, nutrituous and were welcomed in Spring as a 'tonic'. Fresh fruits and vegetables were not abundant in the markets in the winter at that time, so the emergence of edible plants and herbs was a valuable addition to the diet.

So, while enjoying these childhood memories, I picked myself a batch of dandelion greens. I took them into my kitchen and trimmed them and cooked them as my mother used to do. The greens were merely cooked in plenty of water, and a bit of salt until tender. Then they were drained, placed in a bowl and sprinkled with a little cider vinegar. The dandelions contained no pesticide or herbicide residue (people weren't worried about manicured lawns in those days) and the taste of the greens with the hint of vinegar was wonderful. You could really taste the essence of the dandelions. They have a mild bitterness that, when combined with the vinegar, is a delight.

I cannot walk through my neighborhood without smelling the strong odor of herbicides and pesticides. When did the dandelion become our enemy? There are stronger and stronger herbicides appearing on the market to annilihate the dandelion and other 'weeds' that were once treasured for their medicinal, herbal and food properties, free for the foraging. And, in the process we are annilihating ourselves as well.

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