While Andrew and I will do a lot to save a dollar, we aren’t willing to cut those same corners when it comes to much of our food, particularly animal-based products. Until we are finally respectfully raising animals on our own land, we’re committed to paying more for milk and meat that comes from creatures that were grass-fed, pastured, and treated the way they should have been.
So between my amusingly contradictory trips to the thrift store, I go to a fancy-pants organic supermarket to buy things like Piedmont-certified beef. And while strolling along with my list, I stumbled across something baffling. (see above photo)
Local, organically grown…dandelion greens. For $4 a bunch. What is amazing to me is that the same people who are paying to have lawn services give them a featureless swath of green, weed-free grass in their yard, may be buying these, cooking them in their custom-designed kitchens, and serving them with silver tongs.
And while these fantastic greens certainly deserve such a treatment, I want to let you in on a secret. I know another place where I can get local, hand-harvested, organically grown dandelion greens at a super bargain, (no silver tongs needed).
While I might want to wax sarcastic when I see this, I can’t really blame people for not seeing their backyard dandelions as food. A few years ago, I was right there with them, pulling those “weeds” out of my garden and throwing them in a trash bag for the curb. I didn’t even compost them! :(
We have been conditioned to see food as a thing that comes from a store, and dandelions as something you spray poison on. Even though these sunny, happy little flowers are growing literally…everywhere in my part of the country (especially in our wonderfully weedy yard), the unspoken general understanding seems to be that those don’t count, and the ones in the store must be different and safer since they are in a grocery shelf. Generally, normal people just don’t have wild edibles as a routine part of life. I find it odd, though, because in that very same high-end grocery store, there were also wild foods like ramps and fiddleheads (at premium prices, of course).
But maybe it’s the high cost that now makes these foods available to the trending general public. Somehow, paying a price other than Backyard-Free makes it something more elite and, therefore, desirable. Which, again, is something to tilt your head at. In an earlier decade, my Nonna fondly told stories of this “poor people food,” and described how her immigrant family would eat foraged dandelion greens during her Depression-era childhood. I wish she could see me and Andrew now, happily continuing to eat out of our backyards. But far from feeling poor, we see this huge harvest of plants we didn’t even cultivate as a blessing.
So here’s the next plant in our Free Food Everywhere series. The delicious, versatile, totally downtrodden Dandelion. Just like Wild Spinach, it is an easily-identifiable, nutrition-packed food that is so easy to prepare it fairly throws itself onto your dinner plate.
So! Have I piqued your interest in taking a second look at your backyard dandelions? Do you find grocery store Dandelions as crazy as we do? I'll soon be following up with a post on how to harvest and use the handfuls of vitamin-packed greens that are just waiting out there for you.
We are a husband and wife who are trying to live simply. We are learning much as we transition from life in the city to life in the country. Come along with us, and maybe you can also learn a thing or two as well.
We love writing for these fine folks as well!
|Simple Life Homestead||
Simple Life Homestead