Did you know that one of the most nutritious plants on the planet is growing in your own lawn? It is the magical, sacred, ancient… dandelion.
Did you know that the dandelion was brought by our European ancestors to the “New World” as a survival food and medicine? Luckily, its leaves and flowers still make it one of the widely familiar plants. In our society, we have let go of much valuable plant wisdom, but the dandelion prevails in our consciousness. Perhaps our modern minds can’t override such a valuable instinct.
Dandelions are more nutritious than kale. Yes, the one we pay big money for. They’re extremely high in magnesium and have more calcium per cup than milk. When not mowed, the greens become quite large and make a great salad green or stir fry. The dandelions around your doorstep are same ones that are commercially grown and brought to supermarkets. Isn’t it more efficient and sensible to get fresh dandelions from your yard?
Discussing the plant’s benefits could fill the whole magazine; I encourage you to look further and become familiar with the properties of dandelion greens and roots. What I would like to provide for you is more of a sense meditation, something that will help your body tap into its innate sense of wisdom on what food is right for its body.
Go out into your back yard and find a raw dandelion leaf. Chew it slowly, and ask yourself, “How does it feel?” The willingness to taste the flavor and to develop neutrality is a great skill set against our sweet-and-salty obsessed conditioning. Perhaps you can observe why your body resists the flavor so harshly; it might even take you to an earlier trauma of being introduced harshly to the bitter flavor. Notice, is the mind acting like a baby? Or is the neutrality of taste showing itself to accept the “bitters of life?” From a place of neutrality and openness, let dandelion teach you. You can actually learn from a plant if you are willing to ask questions about what’s happening in your own body, like a scientist, an ancient alchemist. Find out what the herb book says inside of you.
Once you put the plant in your mouth, for instance, notice how you start to salivate. This is a direct message that it is increasing digestive fluids throughout the body, which will help you produce the enzymes necessary to break down and utilize the food you eat. This is why digestive bitters are so popular.
Further questions can include: “Why is the bitter flavor important?” and most importantly, “Where in my body do I feel it all happening?”
Plants like dandelion taste stronger than the cultivated ones we’re used to, but this is due to the presence of more calcium, magnesium, and other phytochemicals, which actually make it more nutritious. We hear about mineral deficiencies nowadays, but many people are unaware that genetic dulling and the modern treatment of foods may be some of the big contributing factors that lead to these deficiencies. Thousands of years of humans selecting for desirable plant traits have resulted in plants that grow top-heavy and have weak roots, which sell well because of volume and mild flavor, but are less nutritious. We have sacrificed a great deal of health in order to appease the instant gratification of our tongue’s sweet and salt receptors.
Do yourself a favor, and start now to begin to harmonize with the bitter flavor of dandelion. Slowly, by developing a wider range of palate, we can reduce our dependence on corporations, and head toward a diet that includes all the buzz words – local, organic, sustainable, nutritious, and one you don’t hear in corporate marketing very often: free!