The Weed Forager’s Handbook

Category Archives: Natural health

The Weed Forager’s Handbook
18th October, 2018

Everything you need to know about weed foraging is contained in The Weed Forager’s Handbook – A Guide to Edible and Medicinal Weeds in Australia, by Adam Grubb and Annie Raser- Rowland. A must-have addition to your sustainable living library, the handy little tome, first published in 2012 and since reprinted numerous times, will fit snugly in your jacket pocket or backpack while you scour parks and gardens for your feed of wild food.

The five well illustrated and simply explained chapters cover the topics of weed appreciation, top 20 weeds, other useful weeds, recipes and gardening with weeds, highlighting not only the usefulness of weeds as food, medicine and soil improvers but exploring the philosophy and tradition of foraging passed down from our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

This well-thumbed edition belongs to Herbalist and Co-op worker Madison. 

Authors Raser-Rowland and Grubb are also behind The Art of Frugal Hedonism, which encourages us all to enjoy more while spending less.

Read more on weeds from Horticultural Editor of ABC Organic Gardener magazine Penny Woodward here.

 

 

What’s new?

Check out seasonal fruit and veg, plus new arrivals in the Big Little shop just in time for Xmas.

Fruit & veg

There is still plenty of citrus on offer while new season fruit is starting to trickle into store including mango, papaya and avocado.

Purple veg features strongly with cabbage, sprouting broccoli and even purple pak choy flying the flag. There’s lots of lovely leafy greens on the local stand and look out for new season garlic arriving in a couple of weeks along with some locally grown garlic plaits.

Say cheese

A new selection of dairy and vegan cheese is headed our way including Camembert, Feta, Double Brie and Haloumi from Organic Dairy Farmers. Cheddar style block from Dairy-free Down Under. And a tasty range of flavoured cashew cheeses handmade in Byron Bay from Nutty Bay.

Bags, bags, bags

Xmas gift giving got a little easier with the arrival of these beautiful new slub cotton ‘Foliage’ bags from Apple Green Duck. Available in a variety of colours they retail for $24.48 for members and $27.20 for non-members. STOP PRESS: WE ARE CURRENTLY SOLD OUT OF FOLIAGE BAGS BUT HAVE ORDERED MORE!

Plus, we have a huge range of organic, bamboo, calico, cotton, and jute string, produce, shopping and tote bags to make all your shopping bright, cheery and plastic-free.

Top Tip – Make it easier on yourself and write the weight of your re-useable produce bag on the bag using a fabric marker so it won’t wash off.

Just in

Activated Charcoal Vegan Dental Floss

Floss like a boss with Dr Tung’s lemongrass flavoured Activated Charcoal Vegan Dental Floss.

Gut instinct
17th October, 2018

Happy body = happy mind

Holistic health coach, Danielle O’Donoghue, shares a yummy Happy Gut salad recipe and explores the nutritional value of the ingredients.

This is the deliciously nutritious Happy Gut Salad I made at Blue Mountains Food Co-op  for Wellness Wednesday on October 17th. It’s full of foods that nourish your gut and microbiome.

Dandelion Greens: This super healthy green is GREAT for your gut. Dandelion greens are full of minerals, improve blood lipids, and they are rich in inulin, a particular prebiotic fibre that boosts your gut’s production of healthy, good-for-you bacteria, bifidobacteria being one.

“Boosting bifidobacteria has a number of benefits including helping to reduce the population of potentially damaging bacteria, enhancing bowel movements, and actually helping boost immune function.” David Perlmutter, MD.

Asparagus: A Spring Veggie That Aids Digestion
Rich in prebiotics, these green stalks are as good for you as they are delicious. Asparagus is also rich in inulin, like dandelion greens. It can help promote regularity and decrease bloating.

Seaweed: Demulcent, nutrient and fibre-rich seaweeds are fantastic gut foods. A study of Japanese women showed that high seaweed intake increases good gut bacteria. Another study researched alginate, a substance in brown seaweed, and found that it can strengthen gut mucus, slow down digestion, and make food release its energy more slowly.

Flaxseed: This superfood seed has the highest content of lignans (antioxidants with potent anticancer properties) of all foods available for human consumption. Flaxseed is fuel for good gut flora. Soluble fibre is also in flaxseeds, helping to improve digestive regularity.

Apples: High in a valuable soluble fibre called pectin. Plus, a 2014 study published in Food Chemistry found green apples boost good gut bacteria. Stewed apples have been found to be good for your microbiome, and they may also help to heal your gut.

Garlic: Pungent and flavoursome garlic is also great for your gut health. A 2013 in-vitro study published in Food Science and Human Wellness found that garlic boosted the creation of good gut microbes. The research showed that garlic might also help prevent some gastrointestinal diseases.

What’s for dinner?
12th September, 2018

How do you answer the dreaded question?

Dish up your dinner winners and you could win one of two cook books.

We’re trying to find some winning dinner ideas to share with Co-op members. You don’t have to provide whole recipes just let us know what your favourite, go-to meals are when hungry kids or partners ask “What’s for dinner?”

Send your answers to hello@bmfoodcoop.org.au with your contact details and you could win one of these two cookbooks.

Cauliflower is King  – 70 recipes to prove it by Leanne Kitchen, Murdoch Books, RRP $19.99

or

Stuffed! The art of the vegetable boat by Marlena Kur, Murdoch Books, RRP $32.99

Competition opens Tuesday September 18 and closes Friday October 12.

Milkwood – Real skills for down-to-earth living
12th September, 2018

Kick start your sustainable life with down-to-earth skills from the dynamic duo behind Milkwood permaculture.

The first book from the founders of Milkwood Permaculture, sustainability advocates Kirsten Bradley and Nick Ritar, is not only the realisation of ten years of hard-won practical know-how, it is a celebration of lifestyle. A lifestyle where time-honoured traditions of growing, cultivating, foraging and preserving food are practised with respect for the environment and enthusiasm for self-reliance.

Homemade and heartfelt, this beautiful instructional tome thoroughly explains five areas of the pair’s expertise – wild food, natural beekeeping, mushroom cultivation, tomatoes and the harvest and use of one of Australia’s least utilised resources, seaweed – providing readers with practical skills, recipes, hacks, inspiration and a glimpse into Bradley and Ritar’s own down-to-earth life.

BM Food Co-op caught up with Kirsten Bradley to find out how the book came about.

Q: You teach various courses at Milkwood Permaculture was this book a natural progression from that and what do you hope to achieve with it?

Kirsten: Yes in many ways it was, we wanted to share knowledge in a way that it can sit in your lounge-room or backyard with you, and be absorbed over time.

Q: Why did you focus on just five subjects – Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Beekeeping, Seaweed and Wild Food?

Kirsten: Well they’re ‘five of our favourite things’, so to speak, and also we didn’t want to just give a little bit of info about too many subjects, we wanted to dive in deep! So we started with five subjects that we love doing in our daily life, which are also super fascinating AND super delicious. Our next plan is to do another five subjects, and then another five…

Q: What advice would you give someone wanting to embark on a more self-sufficient life?

Kirsten: Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can! We’d recommend starting with just one small habit, and learning to do that really well. It might be keeping a worm farm, or learning to make yogurt, or learning to identify 10 local edible weeds where you live. Once you’ve got that one thing nailed, and you’re doing it regularly, in your daily life, choose one more thing. It’s amazing where you can end up.

Q: You practice what you preach – do you ever get any down time and does it ever feel too hard living a self-reliant life?

Kirsten: We don’t get a heap of down time, but on the other hand, part of our ‘weekly work’ is things like weeding, or taking the goats down the gully, or making bread. And for me, those sorts of things are what I’d want to be doing with my spare time anyway, so it works out pretty well. It can get a bit crazy in harvest season when the kitchen floor is covered in just-picked food that all needs to be bottled NOW because it’s a heatwave and otherwise it will all be mouldy by tomorrow, but still I wouldn’t have it any other way. And if you have too many pears to process, you can always share them up and down the street. It’s all good.

Q: What’s next for Milkwood – are you already planning a sequel?

Kirsten: Yes I’m bursting to write another five chapters, actually! There’s so much to share, it’s pretty exciting. And we’re so lucky to all live in a place where these skills and ideas are accessible and possible, so I do feel the best way to spend my days is sharing this knowledge so that more and more households and communities can grow and be healthy. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? x

Milkwood – Real skills for down-to-earth living by Kirsten Bradley & Nick Ritar

Murdoch Books, RRP $45

 

There’s nothing “fake” about our local, unprocessed honey.

A recent investigation conducted jointly by Fairfax and the ABC revealed startling evidence of “fake” or adulterated honey on Australian supermarket shelves. Of the 28 jars of “pure” honey tested by German laboratory QSI, 12 were found to be adulterated with honey substitutes.

At the Co-op all our honey is pure, unprocessed and unpasteurised. And we’re lucky enough to have local suppliers including Malfroy’s Gold and Bruce Rogers of Rylstone. Both beekeepers practise natural methods of extraction and harvest from their hives which are placed in isolated areas of western Sydney, the Blue Mountains and central western NSW.

Tim Malfroy (pictured above) of Malfroy’s Gold stated recently on social media that imported “fake” honey “has been an open secret within the industry since at least 2004”. He also thanked supporters for taking an active interest in his “vision for ethical, sustainable Warré style apiculture and locally produced, 100% pure wild honey.” Thank you Tim.

Photo: Eric Tourneret The Bee Photographer

 

Wild Weed Workshop
12th September, 2018

You will never look at weeds in the same way again after taking part in this workshop.

Diego Bonetto is a weed forager, artist, storyteller and an expert on identifying the nutritious plants that grow under our feet that most people call ‘weeds’.

Take a walk on the wild side and discover the edible and medicinal plants that grow around us. Learn about the role weeds play in repairing and building soil. Find out how they have been used for food, craft and natural remedies. Discover ways to safely harvest from the wild and enrich your diet with vitamins and minerals.

Each participant will receive a booklet detailing 16 of the most common wild edibles of the greater Sydney region.

The Weedy One

We asked Diego Bonetto aka The Weedy One what got him into weeds.

Q: What got you interested in wild food and foraging?

Diego: Where I grew up, on a dairy farm in northern Italy, harvesting seasonal bounties is just another chore. I grew up with collecting bitter greens from the fields in springtime, summer berries and autumn mushrooms. When I moved to Australia 25 years ago I continued with the same practice of collecting gifts from nature.

Q: What are weeds useful for?

Diego: All sorts of things. “Weeds” are pioneer species, opportunistic plants with a specific ecological task: to cover soil and start the process of remediation after a disruption. It also happens that many of them are edible and/or have medicinal qualities. We can talk about co-evolution if you want, and that would explain why we have so much to answer about the proliferation of pioneer species. Weeds are good, and food.

Q: You do a lot of foraging in urban areas – how do you mitigate contamination by pesticides, animal faeces or other pollutants?

Diego: You only ever forage where you know it is clean. Even then, it is now proven that wild urban plants do not take up as much contaminant as we might expect them to. A simple vinegar wash would cleanse the plants of any dust and oils. But anyhow. I always say that the best place to forage is your own garden, so that you forage where you know how many dogs there are, who sprays what and also a bit of history of the soil.

Q: Do you have a favourite weed you like to cook with or use medicinally?

Diego: Depending on the season. At the moment I am waiting for the mulberries. In Sydney we have a lot of wild mulberries, and they are delicious.

Q: Are there any “weeds” you know of that are endemic to the Blue Mountains?

Diego: I do not think you can have an endemic weed. I guess native species that are a bit too aggressive could be golden wattle and sweet pittosporum.

There are still a few spots left so to book your ticket for the Wonderful Wild Weeds workshop click here.

Location: Upper Blue Mountains – to be confirmed

 

Eco-friendly spring cleaning

Ditch harsh chemical cleaning products in your home for these local, eco-friendly substitutes.

After the birth of her son, Archie (Archimedes), Natalie Beak was drawn to a simpler way of life. The freelance art director and television production designer had just made a tree change to the mountains and begun listening to The Slow Home podcast by local mountain’s mum Brooke McAlary. “Brooke spoke about simplifying cleaning products and habits, and I soon realised that we really didn’t need 15 different bottles of chemicals in the home,” Natalie explains.

“I started reading everything I could about natural living and slowing down, notably Rhonda Hetzel’s Down the Earth, Rebecca Sullivan’s The Art of the Natural Home and The Art of Frugal Hedonism by Annie Raser-Rowland and Adam Grubb.” This reading coupled with lots of internet research and even more making and testing, formed the background to a new business idea that was bubbling away in Natalie’s mind.

“Making eco-friendly cleaning products for my own family was one thing, but I wanted to share the idea that natural and simple is best,” she says. “Unless we work in high-risk environments where disease control is paramount, we don’t need to be using harsh chemicals in the home. The basics of vinegar, water and essential oils are really all you need to keep a clean and family-friendly home!” And so, Archimedes and Me was born.

Since then Natalie’s home-made chemical-free cleaning and personal care product range has increased to include kitchen and bathroom and general cleaners, salt scrubs, a magnesium bath soak and even a birthing blend.

Here she shares one of her basic recipes.

All-Purpose Kitchen Spray

In a 500ml spray bottle combine:

3/4 cup of vinegar

35 drops of essential oils (citrus oils like wild orange or lemon are great for dissolving grease, eucalyptus and lemon myrtle have amazing antibacterial properties, and clove is a fabulous mould buster)

Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled or purified water and shake.

NB: This spray is not recommended for natural stone due to the acidic nature of the vinegar and oils but is fantastic for timber or laminate surfaces, floors and cupboards.

For more fantastic eco-friendly cleaning and personal care products come along to the Co-op Thursday 20th September at 11am to Meet the Maker – Natalie Beak of Archimedes and Me.

What’s on in September
4th September, 2018

Natural healing
15th August, 2018

Herbs for mums ‘n bubs

Get to grips with gripe and beat the baby blues with soothing natural remedies from our in-store practitioner, Chris Ireland.

The Co-op stocks a wide range of beautiful organic herbs that can be used safely through pregnancy and after birth. This article will detail some recipes for regulating breast milk flow, keeping mum’s spirits up in the days after birth, and helping manage digestive discomfort in the new bub.

Breast milk tea

Classically nutritive herbs, fennel and fenugreek seeds can be combined to help increase milk flow in the new mum. Rosemary Gladstar, a doyenne of modern herbalism, internationally renowned for her technical knowledge and stewardship in the global herbalist community, suggests the following breast milk tea:

4 parts fennel seed

2 parts nettle

2 parts raspberry leaf

½ part fenugreek seed

Use 4-6 tablespoons of herbs to a litre of water. Bruise the seeds lightly and add them and the herbs to cold water. Bring the mixture to a slow boil over low heat, with the pot covered. Remove from the heat and infuse for 20 minutes. Strain. Drink 3-4 cups daily.

Beat the baby blues

For lifting the spirits when feeling a bit overwhelmed in the days after birth, this lovely Joy tea is another Rosemary Gladstar classic:

2 parts chamomile

3 parts lemon balm

2 parts hibiscus flowers

2 parts rose petals

1/8 part lavender flowers

1/8 part cardamom pods, chopped

Use 4-6 tablespoons of herbs per litre of water. Add herbs to a pot and pour boiling water over them. Infuse for 5-10 minutes, covered. Strain out herbs. Drink immediately or serve chilled in summer.

DIY gripe water

Get to grips with gripe using this simple DIY recipe:

1 Tbsp fennel seeds

½ inch piece fresh ginger grated

1 tsp chamomile

125ml (½ cup) filtered water

Lightly bruise fennel seeds. Pour boiling water over herbs, cover pot and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain out herbs, ginger and seeds carefully with a coffee filter.

Kept covered in a closed and sterilised jar in the fridge this mix will last for 2-3 days. For infants small drop doses may be used, and for older babies up to a teaspoon of the mix may be diluted and given in a bottle of water. For best results, use after feeding and before bed.

NB: If problems persist consult a medical practitioner.

 

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