It’s The Forgotten Edible They Collected In Bathtubs During The Great Depression.

Quick. What are the healthiest greens growing in your garden? Lettuce? Spinach? Kale? These crops, and others like them, are planted, cultivated and harvested in many gardens around the country. We pay money for their seeds. We often run water to help them grow. And then after a few weeks, our garden greens are ready to be harvested.

There is a possibility, though, that you may be removing a plant from your garden that rivals even kale in its nutritional value. This common garden green has earned many names over the centuries, but is commonly known as lamb’s quarters.

History

Lamb’s quarters is a green with a rich history. The Romans and people in the Medieval Ages readily consumed it. Entire towns actually acquired their names due to the abundance of the plant.

The nutritional benefits of lamb’s quarters weren’t a secret only to Europeans. In fact, people in the New World also were keen of this healthy wild food. Native people across the country consumed the greens and also harvested the seeds and ground them for flour. Even in the more modern world, people have looked to lamb’s quarter to sustain them.

In her book “Wild Seasons,” author Kay Young tells a story about how people during the Great Depression utilized this green. Her story comes from a retired meter reader who spent his days traveling around Kansas City in the 1930s. During this difficult time, the meter reader claims to have regularly seen bathtubs full of lamb’s quarters being washed and prepared for canning. It also was one of the few edible greens growing in abandoned city lots.

At a recent family gathering, my wife’s grandmother — now in her early 80s — told of commonly eating lamb’s quarters as a child. Although she was surprised to learn how nutritious it is, she wasn’t surprised at all to learn how people during the Great Depression ate it.

Identification

If you have a garden, there is a good chance you have some lamb’s quarters popping up. There are many varieties of the plant, also known as Chenopodium, but the varieties generally consumed have some similarities.

First, the leaf structure of the plant resembles the shape of a goose foot. (Because of this, it’s commonly called goose food.) Another identifying feature is a purplish coloration on the nodes of mature plants. When you are examining it near the stem, you will notice a series of ridges that run vertically down the stem. Perhaps the most distinguishable feature, though, is a white powder coating the plant. This white powder is hydrophobic and repels water. If the “weed” you are about to pull from your garden has these characteristics, it may in fact be the ultra-nutritious wild food.

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Recipe

If you have located some lamb’s quarters and want to enjoy it, you can prepare it several ways. One way is to eat young leaves raw. While the plant can be eaten raw, it does contain high levels of oxalic acid, which can cause a number of problems if eaten in high volume. Fortunately, many recipes call for the leaves to be boiled. Blanching your leaves in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes removes most of the acid. It may be wise to limit your consumption early on in your foraging and to blanch the leaves, too.

It’s The Forgotten Edible They Collected In Bathtubs During The Great Depression.

One tasty recipe comes from Kay Young’s book. It was contributed by a Nebraskan who recalled the dish from her childhood. First, gather a few cupfulls of lamb’s quarters leaves. Three cups seems to be a good amount for a single person. Next, drop the washed leaves in a pot of boiling water for two minutes. This not only removes much of the oxalic acid, but it also will tenderize the greens. After two minutes, remove the greens and drain away the excess water. Next, drop the greens into a pan coated in hot bacon grease. Cook the greens until heated throughout, and then remove. Once removed from the pan, you can season with salt, pepper and vinegar to taste.

Words of Caution

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You don’t need a scientist to know what’s causing the sixth mass extinction

It’s simple. It’s us. The more people there are, the more habitats we destroy. Human civilisation can only survive if the population begins to shrink

Paul R Ehrlich is a professor of population studies at Stanford University and the author of The Population Bomb (1968)

peacock butterfly
A peacock butterfly rests on a thistle. ‘Cropland is generally not rich in food plants suitable for the caterpillars of the 15,000 butterfly species with which we share the planet.’ Photograph: Silas Stein/AFP/Getty Images

One should not need to be a scientist to know that human population growth and the accompanying increase in human consumption are the root cause of the sixth mass extinction we’re currently seeing. All you need to know is that every living being has evolved to have a set of habitat requirements.

An organism can’t live where the temperature is too hot or too cold. If it lives in water, it requires not only an appropriate temperature range, but also appropriate salinity, acidity and other chemical characteristics. If it is a butterfly, it must have access to plants suitable for its caterpillars to eat. A lion requires plant-eaters to catch and devour. A tree needs a certain amount of sunlight and access to soil nutrients and water. A falciparum malaria parasite can’t survive and reproduce without Anopheles mosquitos in its habitat and a human bloodstream to infest.

 

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pre-extinction matters

Extinction obviously matters. If a species is completely wiped out, that’s an important and irreversible loss. But that flip from present to absent, extant to extinct, is just the endpoint of a long period of loss. Before a species disappears entirely, it first disappears locally. And each of those local extinctions—or extirpations—also matters.

“If jaguars become extinct in Mexico, it doesn’t matter if there are still jaguars in Brazil for the role that jaguars play in Mexican ecosystems,” says Ceballos. “Or we might able to keep California condors alive forever, but if there are just 10 or 12 individuals, they won’t be able to survive without human intervention. We’re missing the point when we focus just on species extinction.”

He and his colleagues, Paul Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo, have now tried to quantify those local losses. First, they analyzed data for some 27,600 species of land-based vertebrates, and found that a third of these are in decline. That doesn’t mean they are endangered: A third of these declining species are listed as “low concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, meaning that they aren’t in immediate peril. But that, according to Ceballos’s team, provides a false sense of security. Barn swallows, for example, still number in the millions, but those numbers are going down, and the birds are disappearing from many parts of their range. “Even these common species are declining,” says Ceballos. “Eventually, they’ll become endangered, and eventually they’ll be extinct.”

The team also analyzed detailed historical data for 177 species of mammals. In the last century, every one of these species has lost at least 30 percent of its historical range, and almost half have lost more than 80 percent. Consider the lion. If you divide the world’s land into a grid of 22,000 sectors, each containing 10,000 square kilometers, around 2,000 of those would have been home to lions at the start of the 20th century. Now, just 600 of them are. These royal beasts, which once roamed all over Africa and all the way from southern Europe to northern India, are now confined to pockets of sub-Saharan Africa, and a single Indian forest. Their numbers have fallen by 43 percent in the last two decades.

Several other species that were once thought to be safe are also now endangered. Since the 1980s, the giraffe population has fallen by up to 40 percent, from at least 152,000 animals to just 98,000 in 2015. In the last decade, savanna elephant numbers have fallen by 30 percent, and 80 percent of forest elephants were slaughtered in a national park that was one of their last strongholds. Cheetahs are down to their last 7,000 individuals, and orangutans to their last 5,000.

All told, “as much as 50 percent of the number of animal individuals that once shared Earth with us are already gone, as are billions of populations,” Ceballos and his colleagues write. “While the biosphere is undergoing mass species extinction, it is also being ravaged by a much more serious and rapid wave of population declines and extinctions.”

 

It’s a Mistake to Focus Just on Animal Extinctions – The Atlantic

animal inthink

animal instinct

“The scientific evidence suggests that the human mind evolved from the minds of earlier animals─that thinking is not an absolute phenomenon but a contingent and relative one that combines conscious “intelligence” with unconscious “instinct” in highly unpredictable and sometimes mindlessly destructive ways. Human intelligence is very well developed, of course, which makes our bouts of mindless destructiveness very impressive.” anon

 

How Trauma Is Carried Across Generations

Holding the secret history of our ancestors.
What is overwhelming and unnamable is passed on to those we are closest to. Our loved ones carry what we cannot. And we do the same.

 

This is the subject of Lost in Transmission: Studies of Trauma Across Generations, edited by M. Gerard Fromm (2012). This collection of essays on traumatic transmission builds on the idea that “what human beings cannot contain of their experience—what has been traumatically overwhelming, unbearable, unthinkable—falls out of social discourse, but very often on to and into the next generation as an affective sensitivity or a chaotic urgency.”

The transmission of trauma may be particular to a given family suffering a loss, such as the death of an infant, or it can be a shared response to societal trauma.

Maurice De Witt, a sidewalk Santa on Fifth Avenue noticed a marked change in behavior the holiday season following 9/11 when parents would not “let the hands of their children go. The kids sense that. It’s like water seeping down, and the kids can feel it… There is an anxiety, but the kids can’t make the connections.”

“This astute man was noticing a powerful double message in the parent’s action,” Fromm says. “Consciously and verbally, the message was ‘Here’s Santa. Love him.’ Unconsciously and physically, it was ‘Here’s Santa. Fear him.’ The unnamed trauma of 9/11 was communicated to the next generation by the squeeze of a hand.”

Psychic legacies are often passed on through unconscious cues or affective messages that flow between child and adult. Sometimes anxiety falls from one generation to the next through stories told.

Psychohistorian (link is external) Peter Loewenberg recalls the oral tradition of his parents who lived through the hunger years in Germany during the First World War when the physical health and stature of a generation was stunted due to prolonged malnutrition. According to their stories, a once-a-year indulgence was an orange segmented and apportioned among the entire family. Loewenberg further identifies a cause chain between physical privations of the German people during WWI, which culminated in the Great Depression (1929), and the Nazi appeal to children of Central Europe. To what extent did “the passive experiences of childhood starvation” lead to a reversal and fantasied “undoing” through the hunger regimen and cruelty of the concentration camps? (Lowenberg, 61)

The Phoenix Kimono, painting by Arthur Hunter-Blair

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Diet is key to the violent planet theses

There’s no way around it. To create a world without weapons, war and killing, you have to look at the progenitor causes. Once you learn to kill, killing is normalized. And we come to think of ourselves as a violent and aggressive species.

…The reality we live in is intrinsically peaceful. Herbivores make up the bulk of the animal population and it’s inaccurate and unfair to include them in violent planet theses. Women represent half of all humans, have never been characterized as violent and it’s unfair to include them in violence theses. Beyond that, most men are not violent, so it’s unfair to them too. Predators, both human and nonhuman make up a very small percentage of the Earth’s life forms. When you repeat violent planet theses you are supporting the most violent aspects of life on Earth while being blind to all the rest. It’s not accurate or useful to think that way.  Sky Hiatt

Image result for vegan peace