We Are Primates
This is something I often find myself thinking about. We are primates and regardless of how we change our appearance,education, lifestyle or behaviours we are still classified as monkeys.Today’s vegetables and fruit seem a lot sweeter than those fruit and vegetables we grew in our, almost quarter acre vegetable garden from 1952 until 1975. Marketing plays such a role in everything we do today it would be inconceivable not to believe it played the chief role in food production as well. When was the last time you eat vegetables that you knew were bitter? Bitter vegetables could be a lot better for you than the new improved sweeter version. European settlers that first settled Australia struggled to get enough food so foraging was necessary if you were going to have enough greens on the table and a lot of the greens were bitter.
A Bitter But Healthy Harvest
Where people live in isolation, lacking the comforts of large shops and towns we often see people living extraordinary lifespans. It seems to be extremely naive to believe it is an accident, and just happens. Foraging for wild herbs and vegetables is a part of daily life for these people, no running off to Coles or Woolworths for your weekly shopping list. Instead wild goat, deer, pig or in the case of our early settlers kangaroo, bush turkey,pigeons, parrots, lyrebirds, eels, fish etc, wild herbs like dandelion, purslane, wild brassica, wood sorrel, clover, mallow,stinging nettle, fern root, watercress, chickweed,wild fennel, sheep sorrel, wild berries etc. No doubt Aboriginal people would have shown them edible herbs and other survival skills such as trapping and catching game. Today councils poison the most nutritious foods calling them dangerous weeds that get out of control, but they saved the pioneers.
What Proof Do We Have
Foraging is making a comeback and has been for several decades so for anyone interested there is good books written by reputable scientists and foragers who want to see thin knowledge retained. Dr David Jenkins MD,PhD,DSc is a vascular biologist and in 2003 he led a study that compared the diet of monkeys “Ape Diet’, that was edible for us and easily procured in reversing high cholesterol levels in humans. It gave the same lowering effect as lovastatin without any side effects. I’ll bet your doctor never mentioned this https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3966-ape-diet-lowers-bad-cholesterol-levels/ In Australia and America there are a lot of people interested in DIY health that has a solid evidence base. Luckily the type of people who do this often have very high level university degrees, some want to use this knowledge as locavores looking for the healthiest local produce….http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/3195086/have-bike-will-eat-meet-canberras-forager-who-peddles-a-nutritious-food-cycle/#slide=1 Even well known Australian dietitians like Catherine Saxelby agree the best food is growing by the roadside not purchased from the supermarkets http://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2016-05-12/edible-weeds-and-how-you-can-use-them/7406004
Italians and Greeks that came to live in Australia still continue to practice foraging and they make very tasty nutritious dishes from their harvests, you can do the same but you have to know what you are doing, if in doubt don’t eat it, but once you know what you are doing you can live like a king on a peasants pay. North Western Victoria in the early 19th century saw a lot of Italians and Swiss Italians come out to live, these people brought their foraging habits with them and taught a lot of locals, the men often married Irish catholic girls and quickly became popular family members.
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