You already know that the healthiest food is grown at home in your own garden. Not only is it tastier, but it packs a powerful nutritious punch because it doesn’t go through the processing of store-bought food. You lose some nutrients in that processing. Obviously, growing your own food fixes this problem, but for some people, the skill and time required to grow a garden is beyond their reach.
What most people don’t know is that each of the plants represented by fruits and vegetables in the produce department are members of larger families that contain foods every bit as healthy as their cousins—often even more healthy than their cousins.
These produce relatives are all around us. Dandelion is the superfood cousin of lettuce. Lambsquarters (another common “weed”) is a cousin of spinach, and again, more nutritious. Get into the broccoli family, and you’ll find so many delicious, healthy wild cousins that with a little practice (and without the time and skill commitment required for gardening), you may discover that your property is already a lush garden of healthy foods.
Some may think of eating “weeds” as gross—the plant equivalent of eating grasshoppers or earthworms. But biologically, that’s not a fair comparison.
Wild plants are cousins of foods you already love in the same way bison are the cousins of cattle. My guess is that you’ll learn to like wild spinach as much as you would like a bison burger—a little different, but nonetheless delicious.
And when you compare the nutrition facts of store-bought produce with those of their wild cousins, the result is astounding. The wild cousins carry so much more nutrition that it’s a wonder we don’t put them in everything we eat.
Plus, there is something else to be said for eating wild plants. Not only does it make you healthier, but it makes you feel more a part of the land—part of the ecosystem you live in. And as you do that, you may find yourself interested in learning a few gardening skills. And the first time you try planting broccoli next to whitetop, you may be surprised to find that the two cousins get along really well.