THE VALUE OF EDIBLE WEEDS

August 30, 2017

Every plant we end up calling a "weed" proves only our lack of knowledge.

Edible weeds is a fascinating topic for us, because of the never ending abundance these so-called-weeds - but really, only misunderstood plants - are offering in nutrients. Mind-blowing...!!

And, it is so easy to get the most out of them. The expert of the topic in NZ is Julia Sich - Julia's Edible Weeds. In this interview, she is answering my questions to dig deeper into the topic and to widen our understanding.

 

KAIA

As you mention in the introduction of your book (Julia Sich: Julia's Guide To Edible Weeds and Wild Green Smoothies), the reason why you decided to discover the world of edible weeds is the ITP, an auto immune disease you had to face in 2004. You are making and drinking 1-2 Litres of green smoothies every day since 2010. Keeping up a lifestyle like yours may sound challenging for many of us even if it might be lifesaving. What were the main obstacles you had to face with during these years and what methods did help for you?

JULIA

Once I understood the importance of leafy greens in our diet, it was so easy to drink a big smoothie every day. Having enough greens is the key though. In July 2017 I moved from the farm, where I'd been living for nearly 5 years and where we had huge amounts of leafy green vegetables and weeds to a garden with very little. I have had wonderful friends bringing me bags of weeds and greens. I have also visited other friends and picked greens. I now understand that for some people, they just don't have that many greens to eat. So they have to buy them, but any amount is so good for us. The other challenge I have is that smoothies are cold to drink for breakfast in winter. So what I've done is have a small glass of smoothie and then eat some hot porridge afterwards. And I'll have a big green smoothie for lunch.

KAIA 

Learning, exploring and understanding our bodies' needs requires motivation, willingness and endurance. Many of us didn't get a kick from Life that is big enough yet; what would you share with us as the most inspiring part of your journey so far?

JULIA 

When I see people abusing their bodies and eating junk food or generally not caring for their bodies it amazes me. It is so easy to take our precious health for granted and think we are invincible or have good health and don't need to worry. Our bodies are incredibly resilient but if it's needs are not met and we don't get enough nutrition we start on a slippery slope towards something going wrong and it may not be a big thing at first, but ill health can be cumulative. Also we live in an increasingly toxic world which the body has to cope. Leafy greens and weeds are excellent at detoxing the body. We have evolved eating wild green plants and so the liver needs bitter to stimulate it to work. Sugar and carbs make it sluggish and so the toxins don't get removed and end up stored in the body. I can't emphasize enough the importance of leafy greens and weeds.

 •

KAIA 

Weeds may be underestimated plants in our gardens, but as you found, they are full with vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, and many more. What do you think about the causes of their devaluation, is it mainly the lack of knowledge (just like natural medicines) in our accelerated societies, or are there other reasons too?

JULIA 

The devaluation of weeds is a symptom of our disconnection with nature and living close to and from our gardens. It is part of having to look tidy to keep up with the neighbours, it is part of the busy lifestyle and lack of time for growing our food and gardens and it is also the lack of knowledge. We grow up being fed sweet and starchy foods that dull our taste buds or condition them to certain tastes so that bitter or sour are unappealing and foreign. But they are stimulating to the organs, for just those tastes and our bodies evolved needing that stimulation. Our health statistics are an indication that this modern eating pattern is an experiment gone horribly wrong. We turn to doctors now instead of to the garden, which is a pharmacy outside our back door. Even a tiny garden can have herbs, weeds and vegetables in pots.

 •

KAIA 

What would be your step-by-step suggestion to introduce the edible weeds into our everyday lives?

JULIA 

To introduce edible weeds into our every day lives is a matter of interest and curiosity in the plants and in our health. On my workshops, where I introduce quite a few plants it can seem overwhelming. I suggest starting with one or two by eating them and getting to know them well. One then becomes confident to explore others and find out what they are and how they can be used. It grows from there. That is how it happened for me.

 •

KAIA 

Distributing your book, giving lectures and workshops, sharing recipes, ideas through your website and Facebook page - your days may be very busy. What excites you besides all these right now?

JULIA

What excites me these days is starting a new garden on a new property that belongs to me so I can create it as I like. It is spring and I can watch everything unfold. I have planted fruit trees and am preparing to make a big vegetable garden and have plenty of greens all year round. I have even moved weeds in pots and transplanted them so I would have them. Weeds like mallow, hedge mustard, wall lettuce, chicory, yarrow. I don't want to live with out them. I am also creating an online course so that people who can't make it to a workshop can participate and learn about weeds. I'm excited about that as it means I can share the information even further and that is what makes my heart sing!I would like to publish other books but the online course is the next project.

KAIA

Do you plan to publish other books? Where can we meet you next time?

JULIA

I would like to publish other books but the online course is the next project.

KAIA

Probably it would be easier for someone who has a garden to start the day with a green smoothie from freshly picked leaves, but what would you suggest to someone living in a big city without a garden?

JULIA 

If a person doesn't have a garden they could join a community garden, get their own plot and learn from others there, or buy greens from a farmers market. In Tauranga one grower brings weeds, since there is a demand now from people have attended my workshops.

So, not having a garden yet is not an excuse; get your leafy greens from the local farmers market, pick a yummy smoothie recipe from Julia's book or from her website and start now...!

 

 

 

 

 

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