Spring into Wild-Fermentation!

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Garlic Mustard, Wild-Edibles, Cancer-Cure, Lacto-Fermentation for your dog and cat, and More! Now is the time of year, when we all get excited about the outdoors! We have been huddled up inside with our pets for months during the yin contractive, yet restorative hibernation season. However, the days are longer and warmer and green buds and shoots are popping out everywhere in this yang, expansive time. It is a GREAT time of year to observe, nibble, and harvest wild plants and their potent food-medicine for you and your pets! These young plants are full of tender, vital energy, Qi, and innumerable, highly digestible phytonutrients. Up here, in Floyd, VA at 2500 ft elevation, we are seeing robust clumps of soft GARLIC MUSTARD, Alliaria petiolata now. The combination of its behavior as an invasive, ecological misfit plant and its incredible health profile, make it the perfect plant to harvest. There is so much now that is tender, that it makes sense to preserve it for use all summer, when it is tougher and all winter, when it retreats to its roots in the ground. It can easily be dried in a solar dehydrator and stored in glass jars or plastic bags, however, I never seem to get around to using it this way, simply because it appears less appetizing dried. It could make a good tea this way, but who really wants to drink a garlic tea. Well, this is where our animals come in. The compounds that this plant produces, is a pest deterrent. Small amounts of this tea (2oz per 30lbs daily) can be mixed into your pets food or even sprayed on her coat to deter fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, assuming you can tolerate the odor. Alternatively, the plant can be lightly steamed and frozen for later use in your pet’s or your food (up to 5% of volume daily). Optimally, and most environmentally sound (no cooking or freezing required), garlic mustard can be chopped finely and submerged in “real salt” brine in a glass or ceramic container and left to ferment for 4 to 14 days, depending on one’s taste. The longer it goes, the more lacto-fermentation happens, which means greater numbers of gut-healing lactobacilli bacteria, greater digestibility to you and your pet, and greater numbers of nourishing bacterial by-products in the brine. However, it will become more sour, which means it is less palatable or more of a condiment. I have not tasted this particular ferment yet, but packed a quart jar full last night. Read about the edibility and precautions of garlic mustard below. If you do not find garlic mustard where you live, no worries, you are almost guaranteed this time of year to find...

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Medicinal Rosemary for your Dog or Cat’s Health

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Rosmarinus officinalis   “rose of the sea” Rosemary is one of my favorite plant allies. She is gentle and safe yet powerful. It is an easy plant to grow and harvest in great abundance. It is in the Lamiaciae or mint family with many more gentle friends, such as lemon balm, catnip, and motherwort. It is aromatic which gives me the metaphorical sense of infusing itself through the toughest of blockages and obstructions in the body. It feels to me as though it can penetrate deeply into tissues and gently wisp away sticky collections of toxins in the cells. It has no boundaries in the body and even penetrates difficult areas, like the brain or the ocular lenses. That property lends itself to support problems such as memory loss or canine cognitive dysfunction and oxidative damage to the lenses, such as cataracts. Like any other plant that sits in one place near the moist ground full of bacteria and fungi or commingles closely with its brothers and sisters, it is full  of antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. These properties are touted in some plants and overlooked in others. However, all plants have developed such properties, aka phytochemicals to protect themselves in their vulnerable state. We and our animals developed the ability to chew them up and absorb them to protect ourselves. Another benefit common to rosemary and pretty much anything green with roots in the ground is its level of antioxidants. The label “superfood” and antioxidant rich is a bit misleading. It is used commonly to market foods. They are popular terms and help sell foods for those trying to make more money from a certain species of plant. However, it is unfair to the rest of the plant world that grows equally beneficial and high numbers of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds too. What I have said is an over generalization but is more accurate than saying goji berries imported from Africa for $15/lb are more healthful than blueberries grown for free in your yard or down the road in your local farmer’s field. How about exchanging that expensive spirulina for the super organic, free chickweed outside your door? .. or taking it easy on the cod populations in the oceans 2000 miles away and picking a little rosemary from your herb garden each day and nibbling on it. That simple step will help keep the inflammation at bay. In any case, Rosemary can be used to fight most any infection and is great for allergies, as it reduces histamine production (like benadryl). It is known to lower blood pressure and could be used in older cats with this problem. It could even be dosed transdermally, because of its volatile...

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Plantain (Plantago major)

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“White Man’s Footprint” is another name for this plant, because it is so common. (It followed the path of the anglo-saxon pioneers around the globe.) This plant is almost everywhere. That is one reason I start with it and like it so much – it is abundant. It is also easy to identify and is very useful. It is mild enough to be a medicine and a food. I frequently eat it. I munch on it, when I am out in the yard. I pick it for salads. I seek it out, when my tummy is upset. Plantain is used for many purposes. The most commonly known is a poultice for insect stings. It is readily found and can be chewed up and smooshed onto the skin,where it will stay for a short while and soothe the sting. It is a fun plant for kids to learn and is very useful for pet owners outside with their dogs. Plantain is astringent, which means it draws excess fluid out of tissues (decreases inflammation) and “tightens” the cells up. That property is very useful for an inflammed gi tract and leaky gut syndrome. It can be eaten, made into a tea, or tinctured. The fresh is always the best, but it must be finely chopped, macerated, or pureed. The hulls of the seeds of plantain are commercially grown to make psyllium, aka Metamucil. They are insoluble fiber that can help with bowel regularity. This plant is very nutritious and is very edible. I encourage its use in salads and in your pet’s food. Cat’s only get less than 5% plant matter in their diet. Dog’s can get up to 30%. Plantain can be harvested in abundance in many locations. I like to throw it in the blender or food processor, then add it right into my dog’s diet. It can be mixed into homemade or the blender “soup” can be added to dry kibble to soak, in order to improve the nutrient and water level. Take it a step further and ferment the blended plantain “soup” with or without other veggies to radically improve your pet’s nutrition. See my blog on fermenting foods for dogs and cats for more information. Enjoy this plant and try to eat (and feed to your pet) wild foods every day! They may radically improve nutrition and offer nutrients that simply are not found in cultivated plants. Please see an identification guide for assistance in positively identifying this...

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