Posts Tagged With: Eat The Weeds

The Vegetarian Myth

Deane over at Eat the Weeds posted this today, in which the book is reviewed by Mark Sisson.

I thought it was a good thing to pass along, so here is the excerpt:

Wow.

It isn’t often that I write book reviews (have I ever? – serious question), but it isn’t often that a truly important book like Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth pops up on my radar just begging for one.

You may remember it from a brief mention I gave back in September, or maybe from Dr. Eades’ endorsement of it. You may have even already read the book yourself. If you haven’t, read it. And if you have? Read it again or get one for a friend.

That goes double for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone on the cusp of adopting that lifestyle. If you fit the bill, especially if you’re considering veganism/vegetarianism for moral reasons, drop what you’re doing and run to the nearest bookstore to buy this book. It’s incredibly well-written, and the author has a real knack for engaging prose, but that’s not the main reason for my endorsement. The real draw is the dual (not dueling) narratives: the transformation of a physically broken moral vegetarian into a healthier moral meat eater; and the destructive force of industrial agriculture. The “Myth” in question is the widely-held notion that vegetarianism is the best thing for our health and for our planet. On the contrary, Keith asserts that a global shift toward vegetarianism would be the absolute worst move possible. It’s vitally important. It’s definitive. It’s somewhat depressing, and it’s brutally honest. It also might be the book that changes your life.

Lierre Keith is a former vegan/vegetarian who bowed out after twenty long years of poor health and paralyzing moral paradoxes. Her original goal was to explore the question, “Life or death?” as it pertained to food. She, like most vegetarians, assumed she had a choice between the two, that it was an either/or thing. Eating tofu and beans was life, while a burger represented death. Life didn’t have to involve death – that was the weak way out, and the honorable (and difficult, and therefore meaningful) way to live was by avoiding animal products of all kinds. No blood on your hands or on your plate meant a clean moral slate.

Or so she thought. See, Keith began as a moral vegetarian. She never espoused the idea that meat was inherently unhealthy or physically damaging; she was simply a young kid who “cried for Iron Eyes Cody, longed… for an unmolested continent of rivers and marshes, birds and fish.” We’ve all heard of kids who “turn vegetarian” when they find out their chicken nuggets once walked, clucked, and pecked. Well, Keith was that five year old who bemoaned the “asphalt inferno of suburban sprawl” as a harbinger of “the destruction of [her] planet.” Hers was a deep-seated commitment to the preservation of all living things, not just the cute and fuzzy ones.

That expansive scope meant she looked at the big picture, and suffered for it. She never got to enjoy that oh-so-common smug vegetarian elitism, because she was too aware. Seeds were living things, too. They may not have had faces or doting mothers, but they were alive, and that meant they could die. Killing slugs in her garden was impossible, and deciding whether to supplement the soil with actual bone meal was excruciating. Unlike most of her peers, she knew that avoiding direct animal products didn’t mean her hands were clean. They might not be dripping red, but living organisms died to make that head of lettuce possible. Fields were tilled and billions of microorganisms were destroyed, not to mention the mice, rabbits, and other wild animals whose environments are leveled to make way for industrial farming. And so whichever direction she went – home gardening, local produce, or grocery store goods – Keith was contributing directly and indirectly to death.

What’s a moral vegetarian to do?

She briefly entertains studying with a mystic breatharian, hoping to (tongue-in-cheekily) learn to subsist purely on oxygen. She spends hours picking slugs from her garden and goes to relocate them. Nothing works. She keeps coming back to death.

“Let me live without harm to others. Let my life be possible without death.” Keith realizes this vegetarian plea (which “borders on a prayer”) is impossible to fulfill. She can’t live and eat without something dying, and that’s the whole point of it all. Death is necessary and natural. Circle of life, you know? Without death of some sort, life would get a whole lot worse.

Keith ultimately sets her sights on one of our favorite human “advancements” at the Apple: agriculture! Readers of MDA already know how agriculture altered our trajectory forever, but maybe not in such vivid detail. We focus on the lowered life expectancy, reduced bone density, compromised dental health, and the stooped, shrunken skeletons of our Neolithic ancestors, but Keith shows how grain agriculture actually destroys the land it touches. The Fertile Crescent, ground zero for grain development, used to be, well, fertile. It was verdant, lush, and teeming with life – including nomadic hunter gatherers. Paradise, you might even say. Animals grazed on perennial grasses, pooped out nutrients, and gradually those nutrients would work themselves back into the soil. It was a beautiful, natural life cycle that worked great for millennia. But once grains were grown and the land was irrigated, everything changed. Perennial renewable grasses became annual grains. Animals no longer grazed and replenished the soil. The top soil was robbed of nutrients and faded away. Irrigation meant crucial annual floods were disrupted or even halted. A massive monkey wrench was thrown into the system, and rather than coexisting as a complementary aspect of nature, man thus commenced the conflict with the natural world that rages to this very day.

And that’s the crux of her argument – that modern industrial agriculture is wanton destruction. Grain-based, vegetarian agriculture is even worse, because it attempts to eliminate a crucial player in the normal life cycle of the planet. Animals, which provide manure, calcium, and other nutrients for the soil, have to be part of the equation. Whenever a culture turns to a grain-based agricultural system, these same problems arise. Annual grain crops killed the American prairie and, for the vegans out there, they kill the millions of animals, bugs, and birds that rely on specific ecosystems to survive. The vegan’s soy burger has nary an animal part, but the machines that worked the soybean fields were greased with the blood of a thousand organisms. The vegetarian’s wheat crops feed millions, but robs the land of nutrients and destroys the top soil necessary for life.

Primal readers won’t be surprised by what they read. They may be horrified at the extent of the environmental damage caused by industrial agriculture, but they won’t be surprised (given agriculture’s poor track record with our health). Keith lays out an effective case against grains (and for a Primal-ish, low-carb, high-fat diet, believe it or not) on nutritive, moral, and economical grounds that’s tough to refute. The nutritional information will come as second nature, but the sources are sound and the references are powerful.

There’s more, far more, but I’d rather not spoil the entire thing. Just read it and rest assured that it’s worth your time. The book is a must-read, and a great ally for anyone interested in promoting a healthy, sustainable, omnivorous future. Read this book and distribute it to your vegan friends.

Primal approved!

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/vegetarian-myth-review/#ixzz2qaSEmMRa

I’m ordering this book today. I know just who to give it to!

If you’d like to order the book, you can do so by clicking the image below:

Categories: Food Health, Nature, Self Reliance, Survival, Vegetarian, Wild | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Surviving the Wilderness – A Review and Critique, Part II

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 11 – Exploring

Gerard talks about moving camp and he spends his last night (Day 3) at his old campsite. Again, he talks about how hungry and weak he is. The whole time he’s surrounded by edible plants that he just walks by as his stomach growls.

This is why I’ve always tried to help people learn about edible plants. There’s no reason to go hungry with food all around you.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 12 – Rain

The first mistake he made was not taking an ember encrusted log with him from his previous fire. Especially if it was raining. One thing primitive man learned early on… ALWAYS take your fire with you, especially if you aren’t very good at re-creating said fire.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 13 – Breakfast

Hey, he got a chipmunk with a rock and then stabbed it with his fishing spear. Good going Gerard! I bet that little vermin was the best meal he’s ever had after what he’s been through.

At about 2:50 in, watching him try to skin and clean the chipmunk is interesting. Especially since he says he’s never cleaned an animal before. (And, is thus, starting at the wrong end.) Most small game can be skinned the same way, and quartered if necessary on larger things such as rabbits. I’ve never eaten and skinned a chipmunk, but it’s likely no different than a mini-squirrel without the big fluffy tail, cleaning-wise.

It’s kind of funny. Day 1, he said he wasn’t hungry enough to eat a frog. Day two, the frog was delicious. Day 4, that chipmunk was probably equivalent to Fillet Mignon.

It’s amazing how much better things taste when you think you’re starving. 😉

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 14 – Seafood Lunch

Not a bad job catching a few crayfish. Though I have no idea why he didn’t eat the claws. Also the ‘innards’ that he was all like ‘eww’ about, could have been cooked in the can to make a broth, which would have been very sustaining.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 15 – Nighttime Rant

A recap of the day’s events

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 16 – Gone Fishin’

From his ‘feeling lazy’ last night and not making the fire larger, it went out from the rain. And… he lost his firestarter. Double ‘doh’.
Then he lost his fishhook, and is pretty much tossing in the towel.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 17 – Packing Up

He found an earthworm to eat. He said that it “Tastes like dirt with a little tang to it.” HA! He’s right. They do taste like dirt. They eat dirt. Imagine that. If you ‘purge’ them first before eating them, they’ll taste less like dirt. But they still suck. 😛

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 18 – Hiking

He sees a deer and says “Hmm, now how can I kill that.” At least he’s thinking right! 😉

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 19 – End of Day

Gerard is talking about walking Southwest and thinking that he just might be lost.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 20 – The Finale

He hears a dog barking and finds a house. Gerard is entirely lucky to have found this house. He’s also lucky that no one shot him on sight. 😛
So he goes home after 8 days, utterly defeated.

I would have hoped that he would have learned something, and would have used that as an impetus to shore up his shortcomings in his outdoor knowledge. So that if he was ever put in that kind of situation again (against his will, that is.) that he’d be infinitely better prepared.

As it is, it sounds like he’s scarred for life and probably won’t even go camping ever again. And that’s just a sad thing.

Again, thanks to Gerard for sharing his adventures and Bucky for posting them.

If you missed the first part, you may read it here:

Surviving the Wilderness – A Review and Critique, Part I

Categories: Animals, Foraging, Hunting, Nature, Preparedness, Survival | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Surviving the Wilderness – A Review and Critique, Part I

Surviving the Wilderness.

Two buddies, Gerard and Bucky were sitting around watching survival videos, and Bucky bet Gerard $100 a day for each day that Gerard could stay out in the wilderness.

So, Bucky drives Gerard out to the middle of nowhere, with only a Machete, knife, cordage, and a magnesium and flint firestarter. (Plus a backpack full of camera equipment and a hoodie.)

I’ve decided to review and critique each video. I’ll note what could and should have been done, for the edification and education of my readers, as well as pitfalls to avoid, and just plain out idiot things that you absolutely should NOT do. (Such as drink straight out of a stream or carve things into live trees…)

I have also included a link to each video. They can be hard to find since Youtube altered the way videos are displayed in that the next video in the series is not always listed in the recommended list.

Please note I’m not bashing the survival skills of this fellow, or the lack thereof. (Mostly…) I’m commenting so that other folks can see where opportunities were missed, and so if they find themselves in the woods, they don’t miss those same opportunities. There’s nothing like starving and having no idea that you just walked past six meals worth of food due to your ignorance.

I thank Gerard and Bucky for having the guts to post these vids so that people can see what someone’s ‘first time’ out in the wilderness really is like. Everyone thinks its so easy to just walk out into the woods and survive. Reality is somewhat a bit different.
Thanks to my pals Aktrekker and SlowRide13 on the Green Deane forums for the links to the first and second videos.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 1 – The Beginning:

This is just the prelude and driving to the wilderness.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 2 – Finding Camp:

Here Gerard makes his first little camp area.

At 1:20 in the guy starts hacking at the greenery that isn’t even knee high with his machete. And I’m thinking… what the heck was that for? Dramatic effect? Seen one too many jungle movies?

I’ve had three machetes in my life, and other than having fun with one shortly after the ‘Rambo’ movies came out, haven’t found much use for it in a normal camp situation. I keep the ancient one I have, as it’s better built than the later two, just in case I have encounters with animals. 3 feet of razor sharp steel comes in very handy in such situations. But not for hacking down ferns like someone is in the Amazon river basin.  😮
I think that was purely for dramatic effect. No machete action was needed to walk through those weeds, and just wastes precious energy and calories swinging that thing for nothing.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 3 – Shelter:

The shelter isn’t exactly shelter from anything. It won’t keep out either the rain or the animals. I think I built a more solid shelter when I was 8. 😉 However, something is better than nothing, even if it’s only to have a psychological ‘cave-like’ place to sleep.

OMG. 2:20 into video 3. The guy starts hacking into a full grown live tree. Why? To make a record of his time there. Very few things irk me enough to make me want to thunk someone, but if I’d seen this done in person, the guy would be keeping his teeth in his pockets. That’s right up there with idiots who carve their initials in trees and write ‘Dumbazz was here’ on ancient monuments.

He has a machete. He could have split a small dead log in twain, then used the flat surface to etch his little ‘record’. Idiot. I realize that’s negative and highly judgmental on my part, but I can’t imagine anyone really thinking that doing what he did to that tree was OK, or a good idea.
Please don’t EVER do this to a live tree for no reason.

At 2:30 in, he epically fails at starting a fire. Humorously so.

My favorite part so far is the end of vid 3 where in typical American childish impatience, he kicks his fire pile of what looks to be bone dry leaves because the wind keeps blowing around his magnesium. Dude, your 21 years are showing. Big time.

But I do agree that it’s very good for folks to watch this series. Especially folks who seem to think that the uninitiated will just waltz into the woods and start living out there like it’s no big thing. And they can’t even start a fire.

The guy said he ‘looked up how to do this online’. Obviously prior to his being dropped off in the woods. But, typically, he didn’t think to actually PRACTICE it first a few times. I do wonder what he plans to eat and drink though. Looking forward to watching episode 4…

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 4 – Days End

This is just a short little commentary by Gerard recapping the day’s events.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 5 – Finding The Stream

When starting a fire with a flint, he should have been much closer to the material he was trying to light on fire. He’s basically ‘going out to bat’ with the firestarter here, and then wondering why nothing is catching. Also, with those leaves being as dry as they are, he certainly shouldn’t need the magnesium to start the fire.

Most of my commentary focuses on around 3:00 into the video.

First off the water. He just drank this straight from the stream. I hope he didn’t get crypto-whatever. he should have skipped the machete and brought a portable water filter for backpackers and hikers. I have two. One has a viral-guard filter. Never leave home without it. At the very least, get one of those ‘life-straw’ things.

Secondly, the frog. He has no food. And no way to get food. Letting that go was stupid. Period. He said he didn’t have a fire going anyway. After drinking right out of the stream, raw frog would be the least of his worries. Think of it as American sushi. 😉

(For the record I’d personally cook the frog, but after slurking out of that stream, he can’t possibly do much worse…)

Thirdly, he’s walking by tons of cattails. Obviously he has no idea they’re edible. You don’t even need to get down to the roots for a quick snack. Just pull the shoot and peel and nom the bottom few inches. I do this when walking in swampy areas all the time. Om nom nom.

Fourth. He found a patch of ox-eye daisies. He has one behind his ear. Cute. But he should have collected the greens. Young ox-eye daisy greens are, in my opinion, a superior nommable. I eat them straight and raw. The older they are, the more ‘perfumy’ they get though. You can also eat the white petals of the flowers. I wouldn’t eat too many of the yellow centers though. They can give some folks an upset stomach. But a few out of hand shouldn’t cause any issues in any but the most sensitive of folks.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 6 – Fire

So here he is attempting to start a fire, for what, the fourth time? No fire ring, just trying to light a pile of leaves, connected to all the rest of the leaves, connected to the rest of the forest.

I don’t think I need to point out how utterly stupid this is. If you have no rocks, make a fire ring by clearing the leaves away in several feet from your fire, and scratch and disturb the dirt at the very least in a circle around where your fire will be. This will keep the fire from creeping out. If you have the means, make a fire ring using dirt and/or rocks to contain the fire.

After all that scraping the fire flint I kind of felt embarrassed for the guy. He should have accidentally caught it on fire by then with all those sparks flying around.

At about 2:25 in, he gets lucky and accidentally catches part of the forest on fire. 😉 A stray spark, not even where he was aiming, caught a leaf on fire.
I wonder what this guy would have done if it was raining.

At least now he has a fire. And later in the same video he must have cleared the leaves around the open flame. (Or likely ended up just pushing them all into the fire.)

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 7 – The First Meal

As he’s about to leave his fire in search of food, he notes that maybe it’s a good idea to push the leaves away from and/or into the fire, and states that maybe he should put some of those rocks around the fire. (He’s had rocks this whole time and just NOW thinks it’s a good idea to make a fire ring?)
To his credit, he goes back and gets what is likely the same frog, in the same spot. And he cooks it and eats it. Good job, Gerard! 🙂

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 8 – Another Night

Gerard talks about being a bit weak from lack of food. He had no lack of food, simply a lack of knowledge about food. Food was everywhere around him. I don’t know if anyone later pointed out to him the cattails he walked past. (The easiest parts to collect in his situation would have been the bottom few inches of the shoots can be peeled and eaten raw, and the roots can be roasted and peeled and then stripped with your teeth for their starch.) Or if anyone mentioned the ox eye daisy greens he passed up. (The flower he had in his hair.) I can guarantee that anyone even passingly familiar with wild plants could fill a basket in very short order if they know what to look for. There was no reason whatsoever for him to be hungry with that bounty around him.

That’s why I support places that encourage ongoing education concerning foraging and identification of wild plants, like Green Deane’s forum: ‘Eat the Weeds

Also check out his online Youtube videos

The last I checked he had something like 143 foraging videos all available for viewing free online.
And the main Eat the Weeds site:

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 9 – Target Practice

At about 1:20 into the video, after talking about needing his teeth brushed, Gerard states “I don’t know about any plants I can use, but I’ll find out when I start sticking stuff in my mouth.”

Do not EVER, and I do mean EVER do this!

This is how you end up being those few people a year who die by eating random unidentified wild plants.

Surviving the Wilderness – Episode 10 – The Creek

This guy spends an awful lot of time and energy staging ‘walking out’ and ‘walking towards’ shots with his camera.
Finding the larger stream with the fish was a definite plus, and the first thing he should have done is just what he was talking about, and that is to make a new campsite there and bury the fire at his old campsite. (And take a ember-encrusted stick from his previous fire to start the new one.)
Shelter isn’t an issue in the middle of the summer and his old campsite didn’t provide any shelter anyway.
You can also build a little dam (or two) in a creek and corral the small fish between your dams. And when they can’t get out, you have all the time in the world to figure out how to catch them.

Continued soon in Surviving the Wilderness – A Review and Critique, Part II

Categories: Animals, Foraging, Hunting, Nature, Preparedness, Survival | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Eat the Weeds videos now available on DVD!

After a long struggle and many hurdles, the world’s most watched foraging videos are now available on DVD!

As many of you know, these videos are put together by my friend, and mentor, ‘Green’ Deane Jordan of Eattheweeds.com

Eattheweeds

Current pricing is very affordable at $1 per episode, with 15 episodes per DVD, shipping included. You can’t beat that deal with a stick!

The DVDs can be acquired here:

Categories: Education, Foraging, Green | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forage! Special Edition: Green Bean’s Garden

This Special Edition of the Forage! comic strip is in honor of someone who’s given back tremendously to the foraging community through his tireless work, incredible foraging videos, and hands on effort.

Through his passion for many of our favorite hobby, he has taught and touched many people’s lives. Some through his foraging classes, which he still offers, and some through his incredible videos.

To that end let the roasting… err… the honorary cameo in Foraging! begin! 🙂

Green Bean
And in case you’re quite new to foraging and don’t know who we’re talking about here, he can be found at www.eattheweeds.com

Categories: Comedy, Education, Food Health, Forage!, Foraging, Funny Stuff, Wild, Wild Cookery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Go Green? NO! Faux Green!

Reading the GDF (Green Deane Forum) today and chatting with my lovely wife, I coined what I think is a ‘new’ term for the ‘Go Green’ trend, which totally encapsulates what it really is.

It’s not ‘Go Green’, it’s ‘Faux Green’.

Almost all of it, is complete and utter festering, stinking, putrid manure. Sorry if that’s a bit graphic, but that’s what the ‘green’ movement is in a nutshell. An off-colored bowel movement. It achieves exactly the opposite of what it purports to support.

It might as well be called the ‘ungreen’ movement.

So, unless someone else has claim to it, ye heard ‘Faux Green’ here first. 😉

Think of what the typical ‘go-greener’ does:

  • Is typically a ‘modern’ American vegetarian and thinks of anyone who eats meat as cruel, uneducated, and unintelligent misguided brutes who are killing the planet. This from people who wouldn’t know their Dandelion from their Daucus carota. Which means that if I like a little burger in my stew from time to time, I’m a savage and not even worth talking to.
  • Eats large amounts of unfermented soy products, as they’ve been told, and bought the lie, that such is ‘healthy’ for them. Not so. It messes with the estrogen cycle of women, and introduces artificial estrogens into men which emasculates them. Also, people eating such things tend to be rail thin, as they are literally starving themselves and not getting proper nutrition, and I’ve got to tell you ladies, that is NOT attractive. No matter what pop culture tells you, thin as a rail and gaunt is not ‘hot’. It’s sickly. Oh sure, you’ll find a guy to take you for a test drive, if you know what I mean, but that’s probably about as far as it’ll get. No real health conscious man wants to marry a woman that looks like a walking skeleton. They don’t look right, they don’t feel right, heck, they don’t even smell right. And then women like that wonder why they can’t have kids and need fertility drugs after messing with their systems by slucking down 20 years of soy. Gee, I wonder…
  • Buys organic cotton clothing. Usually made anywhere but in the US, and usually made by places that pay their workers dimes on the dollar to make such things.
  • Purchases ‘Free Trade Certified’ chocolate and cocoa and the like. Because, you know, it’s the right thing to do. Those farmers deserve a fair shake. Yes, they do, and they should be adult enough to get it without you having to be their mommy. So you’ll buy Free Trade chocolate so that the farmer in, say, Ecuador gets a fair shake, but what about that poor factory worker in China making your organic clothing at slave wages? Double standard much?
  • Supports carbon taxes and carbon credits in order to reduce our ‘carbon footprint’. I don’t even really have words for what a load of pure crap this is – junk science at it’s best. The earth had a far greater amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the past, and both the plants and the animals thrived. You remember those dinosaurs and 30 foot ferns? And what are you going to do next, tax the volcanoes and undersea vents? Last I checked they were still steaming out, and those have nothing to do with people.
  • Tends to purchase ‘recycled’ products at the store, so they can feel good about themselves. Even though, in reality, most ‘recycled’ products have very little post-consumer content in them at all. Companies pull the ‘recycled’ scraps off of their own factory floors that they shove back into the scrapper anyway and call that ‘recycled’ and get away with it. Some of this has changed a bit in recent years, but it still goes on. (If you buy recycled look at the post-consumer content information.)
  • Fills their entire house with ‘green’ (deadly toxic) compact fluorescent bulbs. They have no idea that should one of these break in their house, they’d literally need a hazmat team to clean up the mercury properly. And yet they push how ‘safe’ they are and how ‘ungreen’ traditional (safe) incandescent bulbs are. If you use compact florescent bulbs, make sure they are nowhere that can be broken, or in anything that can be knocked over accidentally, like a lamp. Also make sure they are way out of reach of pets and particularly children. Never, never, NEVER, let your child handle a compact fluorescent bulb! And when you do, make sure you wash your hands with soap and water immediately and thoroughly afterwards. (Unfortunately you won’t find this good helpful safety advice on any go-greener’s website, I can tell you that!)

So, for those who refuse to do any real research and still insist that the modern, standard, American vegetarian diet a la soy is ‘healthy’, I only have one more thing to say:

Thhhhbbbbbbbt!

thhbt

Don’t be a Green Zombie!

Categories: Faux Green, Food Health, Foraging, Green, Nature, Organic, Preparedness, Wild | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Modern Vegetarianism: ‘Ungreen’ as it Gets.

I posted this about a year ago on GDF, but never on my blog. I had a brief brush with *shudders* vegetarianism in my youth.

Grab a comfy pillow or a bean bag chair boys and gals, it’s STORY TIME!  8)

Many moons ago now, I had a brief run in with vegetarianism. I somehow got  it into my head at the time that eating animals was ‘wrong’. Of course, my Dad being a lifelong hunter and fisherman just laughed, and told me “Hey, whatever floats your boat, son. Have at it, it won’t last long.” Oh yes it will, says I. This is my ‘new’ way of life, says I again.

This went on for about a month or so with mixed results. I was young, and dumb, and full of crumbs, and couldn’t possibly have any idea what I was doing to myself health-wise. I lost about 10 pounds or so as I went from eating meat and potatoes to eating mostly fruit.

So mother was all concerned and father said “Don’t sweat it, the kid can’t possibly be that stupid. It’s just a phase.”

But mother took matters into her own hands. She called up my uncle and he arranged to take her and I out to dinner. To Red Lobster. I had no idea where we were going, just that we were going ‘out’ to eat, which in and of itself was an incredibly rare occurrence. We were also going out with my uncle, which means it would be a ‘good’ restaurant, and not some place crappy like McDonalds. My uncle also wasn’t ‘cheap’ when he took folks out to eat. It was a time to enjoy yourself, and get something nice that you normally didn’t get. Half the time, he’d order the most expensive item on the menu just to see whether it was worth it or not.

So, anyway, there we were and I’m pretty upset by this time, thinking that I’m getting the shaft by going out to eat at a nice place that has nothing I can eat but a salad.

My uncle tells me to “Order whatever you want, but you have to eat it all, and it has to be some form of meat. If you don’t want meat, then order fish. We Catholics lie to ourselves all the time about that one, since it’s an animal, but somehow not considered meat. Good Friday and all that stuff.” He was of course, just messing with me, as he was wont to do.

Earlier my Mom had told me to make sure not to eat anything so that I was really hungry because we were going out with my uncle, and she didn’t want me filling up.

So, by the time dinner with uncle came around I was REALLY darn hungry, not having eaten since breakfast. I had no idea what to order, so my uncle ordered an appetizer. it was shrimp scampi.

I was so hungry by this time, I didn’t care. I snarfed one and about died in gastronomic shock. Garlic, and butter, and YUM!

I’d never had shrimp scampi before. Heck, I’d never had SHRIMP before. To say it was good would be the understatement of the century. I knew what shrimp were. Sea bugs. I had nothing against eating bugs, sea or otherwise, and my uncle knew this. They weren’t cute and didn’t look at me with sad eyes before I ate them, which was my excuse for not eating beef, pork, chicken, and bunnies. He’d planned this all along.

So, we polished off that appetizer and I ordered the biggest Admiral’s Platter of shrimp they had. Some $30 worth of 3 or 4 different shrimp styles. Butterfly shrimp, shrimp scampi again (YUM!), popcorn shrimp, and beer batter shrimp. Also served on the side was darn near endless snow crab legs with hot melted butter. I think I ate 3 orders of it, as that portion of the meal was ‘all you can eat’.

After this dinner, I pretty much gave up on vegetarianism. I hadn’t eaten any land animals that night, but I was forced to look at the reasons I was going vegetarian to begin with.

They were all pretty spotty. I didn’t want to hurt animals, but I was perfectly OK with destroying thousands of plants instead. Plants who didn’t do anything, but were destined to die to feed me. The only difference was the animals were ‘cute’, and the plants were not. As a human, we still must destroy and consume matter in order that we may live. So, I thought it was rather hypocritical of me to select one ‘favored’ type of life to consume at the exclusion of all others. Life is life. Why should one kind be raised above the other? So, I resolved to eat an equal share of plants and animals as most other humans had done before me since the dawn of humankind. It seemed the most proper, natural, healthy, and ‘ethical’ thing to do.

I spoke with my uncle some time after giving up my whole vegetarian stretch, and asked him how he knew I’d give it up. He said that he’d gone down that path once before himself, for about 15 years, as he was after all a baby boomer and it is the supposedly ‘ecological’ and ‘green’ thing to do. He finished up with the statement that it’s all crap, leads to all kinds of bad health in later years, and that the best thing I could ever do for myself was do my OWN darn research and never trust what some clinical study said about anything. Turns out the old fellow was quite right. Thanks uncle.

Strict vegetarianism is just cruelty to plants. Singling out a particular form of life to kill and consume, because it doesn’t look at us with sad doe-colored eyes, and we don’t have to get our hands all ‘icky’ by cleaning and gutting it. When one large animal (one life) could have sustained you and your family an entire winter if judiciously prepared. But instead, you need to consume hundreds, possibly thousands of pounds of plants instead. Now that leaves one heck of a ‘carbon footprint’. 😉

But really, I have no problems with real vegetarians, as long as they grow their own or forage their own. Knock yourself out. Just don’t make the rest of us subsidize your urbanly unsustainable lifestyle. You want to be a veggie? Move out from the metro and get serious about it and put some effort into it. None of this “I’m too busy, so I have to go to Whole Foods for my dandelions and I’m saving the planet each time I purchase my organic soy chai latte from Starshmucks or Peeberry.” 😛 Bullshit.

And let’s face it…

In a grid down situation, honestly, those folks are hosed. Unless they have a massive storage of their type of food for the winter.

Foraging a plant-only diet through a PA winter? I’d have a very tough time of that. I could do it, but I’ll tell you now, it would NOT be fun, and I’d probably scrape through barely alive and incredibly malnourished by the time spring came around. But I’d never do it. Birds and bunnies and squirrels would be on the menu immediately. Humans need those animal fats. The first thing the ancient peoples went for was the fat and marrow. Not the ‘lean’ cuts of meat.

The Vegetarian lifestyle is wholly dependent upon modern ‘just in time’ supply systems, and as such is neither ‘green’ nor ‘sustainable’. Now, if someone wants to grow their own stuff, or whatever, more power to them. It’s not any of my business. But when my tax dollars are lobbied to make certain things ‘more accessible’ for a minority who wants to live a certain way, and it costs outrageous amounts of resources to do this, it’s sheer lunacy, at best. So in that sense, I have zero respect for folks who can’t seem to figure out that a modern mainstream veg diet is extremely harmful to the planet they purport to want to ‘save’.

Those that don’t forage or grow their own, haven’t a leg to stand on, morally.

Categories: Food Health, Foraging, Green, Nature, Organic, Organic Meat, Wild | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

InkPaperPen http://inkpaperpen.wordpress.com/ was kind enough to nominate this blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

very-inspiring-blogger
Thank You! That was very kind. And what great timing! 😀

However, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.

I very much appreciate the nomination, but I don’t think I’m going to go beyond that in the process. I’m not exactly one for following made up so called ‘rules’, especially when it includes very obvious data-mining. Not that this was the intention of the nice folks who nominate other folks. But it is what it is. It asks you for 7 personal things about yourself, in order to follow the ‘rules’ of the award, and then it asks you to nominate 15 other people to do the exact same thing.

I don’t have 15 other blogs that I follow, which I think are ‘very inspiring’, and if I did, I would just send them a little ‘thank you’ note, and not because I ‘have’ to nominate them for an award in order to ‘claim’ my own.

I mean really… what logical sense does that make? In order to claim an award you’ve got to nominate a dozen plus three other people for the same award?

That doesn’t sound like merit to me, more like a bunch of back slapping and circle jerking.

Have you ever gotten those emails that ask you a dozen things about yourself and then to forward it on to all your friends and have THEM answer the questions and then forward it on to all of THEIR friends so everyone gets to ‘know each other’ a little bit more? It’s all bollocks folks. It’s out and out datamining, pure and simple. Except for the fact that you are doing all the work for the folks who are datamining. It also conditions you that it’s OK to give out personal information to complete random strangers, as that’s who’s going to eventually be reading your personal information a few chains down the line. But all of this is perfectly normal for the Facebook and Myspace generation who thinks it’s completely normal to update total strangers on what you are doing every moment of every day, including tweeting when you are going to the can! 😛

As they said in the ’90s. “Homey don’t play dat.”

But let me clarify. I do think the intent of the individual who nominated me was pure, and thus I feel honored that this blog was considered to be ‘very inspiring’ in some way.

I do hope that in the past year, I’ve inspired and enabled a few people to realize that they have choices when it comes to their food and that they don’t have to be dependent upon a commercialized and oft nutrient deprived food system for nourishment for themselves and their families.

So, to wrap this up, I’m thankful and honored for the nomination of the ‘Very Inspring Blogger’ award but due to the reasons stated above, and my refusal to propagate data mining on other innocent bloggers, I’ll have to decline.

no-very-inspiring-blogger
But just for the fun of it here are seven facts about myself, which are probably already public knowledge, as I’ve been on the net a long darn time.

1.) I run a blog called Wild Cookery!
2.) Green Deane Jordan runs my favorite foraging site, forum, and Youtube channel.
3.) I get most of my food from nature and not the supermarket. I forage in the spring and summer and fall, and store foragables for use over the winter. I only buy oatmeal and rice and potatoes commercially.
4.) I love dandelions. They are the perfect foraging food in that all parts of the plant from the flowers to the root are edible year round. Remember this, it may save your life.
5.) It’s snowing here today. Again. I’m beyond sick and tired of snow. And the nigh-endless cold. FUCK WINTER!!!!!! (How’s that for honest?)
6.) Due to a very warm week in January, my Blue Flag Irises started to shoot up about six inches and are now getting frozen from all the cold and snow. Not cool. Not cool at all. (Pun not intended.)
7.) I loathe datamining and all other privacy invasion attempts such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc. Along with all of the fake bloggy ‘awards’ out there that seek to datamine you and dozens of your friends just so you can display their shiny little ‘award’ that you probably didn’t even earn. You were nominated so THEY could claim THEIR award. Otherwise, they’d probably not even bothered to send you so much as a ‘thank you’ for your efforts.

Sorry, not trying to be snarky here, and I don’t want it to seem like I’m shazzing on wonderful people’s good intentions. I just REALLY don’t like datamining. It’s a total invasion of privacy, and it’s a tool to train you to happily give your rights and privacy away to total strangers. But I’ve found from years of internettting, that what they can’t take from someone at a point of a gun, they’ll gladly give away for a shiny little digital ‘award’. People just love their little digital ‘achievements’.

Ding! Level up! 😛

Categories: Awards, Web | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Ye Old Wild Cookery Videos

I logged in my email today to find two dozen messages in my inbox, in addition to various follows and ‘likes’ on my mostly non-used and defunct Youtube channel.

In regards to the Wild Cookery videos…

jwc
Sorry folks, there likely won’t be any more of those. I won’t say ‘never’, but definitely not anytime soon or in the next few years.

When I made that video, and the others over a year ago now, it was just to help out a few  friends who were new to foraging, as I had some requests that I figured could best be served by just making a video.

By the time I’d gotten to the 4th video, I’d gotten a bit better at putting them together, but then my main computer’s hard drive took a dive, and obliterated all the data that I had in progress of the 5th Wild Cookery video. It was about 75% complete and was hands-down the best of them. I had backups of the original 4 vids, but not the one in progress as it was still being made in Sony Vega. With the crash I also lost all of the pictures and footage that I had for the video in addition to my copy of the editing software, which is a several hundred dollar program, so that put a bit of a damper on things. I can’t replace it right now, and I’m not going to fiddle with some inferior ‘free’ video processing software. I simply don’t have the patience right now to re-learn an entire video editing program from the ground up just to get it to do a few simple things.

Hence, I kind of lost all motivation to do any further videos. I’d have to start from absolute scratch, and I just don’t have the desire to do that at the moment. And quite honestly, I doubt if I’ll ever have that desire again.

The original purpose of the videos was met in spades. Anyone else who benefits from them beyond that, is just a bonus.

I never intended to be a ‘foraging personality’. I don’t plan on being the next Sam Thayer, or John Kallas, or Steve Brill, and I’m certainly not the next Green Deane. I’m not going to write a book on foraging, ever, and other than making a few random posts here and there to the Eat The Weed Forums and my Wild Cookery Blog  I don’t anticipate doing anything more in the realm of foraging for public consumption.

My Youtube channel is NOT monitored, and in fact, I had to think about it a while to even remember my password for it. If you comment there or follow it, I probably won’t see it and get back to you anytime, oh… ever.

If you want more videos, then Green Deane’s Youtube channel is simply the best there is. You can also visit the parent site, Eat The Weeds. There you will find fantastic articles on plants as well as over 1000 archived articles for your casual perusal and continued foraging pleasure and information.

They are well done and very professional.

As of this writing, he has 138 videos. That ought to keep anyone busy for a good long time in regards to learning about foraging! 😀

Categories: Nature, Updates, Wild | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Garlic Mustard Madness

Ah, the humble and sometimes hated Garlic Mustard…

Known in the hoity-toity world of Latin based taxonomy as ‘Alliaria petiolata.’

Garlic Mustard GC

I just love Latin taxonomy names. Especially since I learned all the plants the old fashioned way from my father who never referred to this plant as an ‘Alliaria petiolata’, and would have wondered what the heck I was talking about if I’d called it that and not ‘Garlic Mustard’. Yep, Latin names. Just love them to bits. And they make oh-so-much sense. Oh well, it gives me something to do in the second half of my life. Maybe if I work really hard at it I’ll sound like an official ‘expert’ in the next few decades. 😉

But ‘Alliaria petiolata’… It’s one of those Latin names that I forget quite often, (right up there with Hypochaeris radicata), but know it instantly again whenever I see it written in text. Allaria is a reference to the garlic family, and petiolata is a reference to being long stemmed. This is one of those rare exceptions where the Latin name actually makes sense.

This oft reviled plant is actually one of nature’s powerhouses of nutrition. It’s eaten and adored in Europe, and we spend all kinds of public funding here to eradicate it by spraying and burning, and herbicides. No one seems to bother with the logical solution. Eat it!

The leaves, stems, and even roots of this plant are edible. In fact, it’s one of those lovely plants which, like a dandelion, are edible 100% of the time of year. Even the seeds and seed pods are edible if you really want to eat them.

So, what does it look like in depth, and how do we identify it?

Let’s take a leisurely tumble through the tasty realm of the humble and hated garlic mustard.

One can find many pictures of this plant on the net, some good, some not. But rarely will you actually find anything that shows you the plant in it’s younger and less identifiable stages.

I strive to use my own pictures for everything, and try to include ones that have some manner of clarity towards the parts of the plants that are in the most need of accurate identification. I hope they help.

This plant is definitely a Brassicaceae (also genus Brassica), as you will see if you are even passingly familiar with the ‘mustard’ family of plants.

Garlic mustard starts life as a little guy, who soon forms a basal rosette.

Garlic Mustard 1st Year Oct

At this stage it can be hard to identify if you aren’t familiar with garlic mustard, as it looks like any number of other green little plants.

Garlic Mustard Leaves 1st Year Oct
However, note the root and the sharp upturned ‘L’ like way the main root curves?

Garlic Mustard Root 1st Year Oct
That’s pretty prominent in any garlic mustard that I’ve ever dug up, and it’s also a good aid in identifying the plant.

The young basal leaves of this plant look quite different from the mature leaves, which have a more pointed shape. All are easy to recognize once you’ve seen the plant through all stages of it’s life-cycle, you’ll begin seeing this plant everywhere. Which, if you are in a temperate forested area like I am, will indeed be darn near everywhere, on the side of the road, near any forested area.

This is what the plant looks like in the ‘wild’. Though in this case, it’s outside my back door near my planter. No, I didn’t plant it there, it just grew there. I’ll harvest it before it goes to seed this year. This picture was taken in January and shows how big the plant is already having just grown from seed the previous fall and how it’ll bolt up in the spring.

Garlic Mustard - Back Planter

I found a large second year plant last spring that was still in a bushy basal rosette, and brought it into captivity so I could photograph it as it grew.

Pet Garlic Mustard 2

Here is the plant when it bolted. It did so quite quickly, and grew to a large size very rapidly.

Pet Garlic Mustard 3b

Here is a picture of the close up of the soon-to-be-blooming stem. Notice how the leaves are vastly more arrow shaped versus the original rounded or kidney shaped leaves of the basal rosette.

Pet Garlic Mustard 4b

Also, this plant can grow to a very large size. Here one of the mature basal leaves is almost as big as my hand.

Pet Garlic Mustard 5

Unfortunately, even though this plant did grow quite large, it didn’t bloom from lack of sunlight in it’s location in my nearly lightless garage, so we’ll have to go back to the wild do show you some blooms.

Garlic Mustard Blooming 1
The older name for the genus is ‘Cruciferae’ “Cross-bearing”. An allusion to the way the flower petals of this genus form a cross. This also makes them very easy to identify when in bloom.

The flowers have four petals in typical mustard fashion. The petals are very strikingly white. It will have six stamen. Four longer and two shorter, like all members of Brassica.

Though you won’t really need that detail to identify this plant in bloom. The arrow shaped leaves and white cross flowers should be enough.

The leaves along the stem are very arrowhead shaped in comparison to the lower basal rosette leaves which tend to be rounded or kidney shaped.

Garlic Mustard 2nd Year Bolt
As the plant matures, it gains the very prominent long signature seed pods with tiny black seeds that mustards are famous for, and which in other mustard varieties are made into the common condiment we call, not surprisingly, ‘mustard’.

The plant is prolific. Mostly because it exudes a chemical into the soil that kills off mycorrhiza in the soil as well as most competing plants. [1] Thus, enabling it so slowly take over. It’s a nasty little bugger. But it’s also delicious when properly prepared. And it’s pure nutritional dynamite.

I like to briefly boil (5 minutes) then fry the leaf greens with something fatty, such as bacon, or with olive oil and then serve over whatever you like. In my case, rice.

The upper several inches of the stem can be made like asparagus. Just snap it off where tender on the stem, and cook the whole thing. Even though it’s called ‘garlic mustard’, I don’t find it to have any real kind of ‘garlic’ taste. Thus, I like to pair mine with some fresh wild garlic greens to spice things up!

The roots are also edible, and quite spicy. Think horseradish, but not quite. Though I haven’t used these for much, they are edible. (I’m not a huge fan of horseradishy flavored things.)

If you eat this plant, many people will thank you. Or at least they would if anyone cared about the forests becoming a monoculture. Eat all you can find, and worry not. Nature will make more.

This plant can really take over, and has done so in many northern areas, such as Pennsylvania. Apparently the seeds need a freezing component to germinate, which would explain why it’s advance south has been somewhat halted.

As far as I have seen, and ever read, there are no toxic lookalikes [2], but do your homework and research and be sure of the plant you have. It’s pretty hard to misidentify this plant, but I’ve seen it done before.
If you ever mis-identify this plant, it’ll probably be for young Ground Ivy or another of the Mustard family of plants. Maybe even a violet. If you’re drunk. Or don’t know your plants very well. 😉 None of which are harmful and are also edible.

There are also much better ways to control this plant than simply trying to physically eradicate it [3], and the one I like is perhaps the most simple. Eat more of it! Or start eating it, if you aren’t eating it now. Though I do highly recommend the linked references below for identification purposes.

I don’t typically do references, as I don’t typically write from anything other than my personal experience. I find that to write about things which one does not have direct experience with to be disingenuous, and dangerous, especially where edible and toxic plants are involved. However, I’ve included some references for your further reading enjoyment and education.

References

1. “Edible Wild Plants” Dr. John Kallas, PhD pps 231 – 248

2. ‘Wildman’ Steve Brill. http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Garlic%20Mustard.html

3. Janet Van Sloun Larson. Natrual Resource Specialist, City of Minnetonka, Natural Resources Division. http://www.eminnetonka.com/public_works/natural_resources/restoration/documents/garlic_mustard_presentation.pdf

* Also be sure to check out Green Deane Jordan’s site: www.eattheweeds.com It’s my favorite source for all things wild, edible, and delicious

Categories: Food Health, Foraging, Nature, Nature Photos, Preparedness, Wild | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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