Wild & Raw: Why Wild Food Matters - By The Wild Food CafeIsn't it surprising that with the advent of raw plant-food and healthy, wholesome eating we are still rather shy about regularly experimenting with wild foods so abundantly available to us? Introducing at least some wild foods to our lifestyle is not just for hippies that like chewing on/doing things with weird weeds, it is an essential part of thriving in the modern world. Here’s why:
- Wild foods come from pristine ecosystems which have existed and thrived immeasurably longer than conventional agriculture. Wild food is our link to our long forgotten wisdom and natural connection to nature and vitality.
- Once upon a time, people used to eat over 300 different herbs and plants a year. They knew how to use wild foods medicinally and nutritionally and used them with reverence every day. Herbs, roots, barks, mushrooms, berries and seeds were an every day part of cooking, healing and detoxing.
- Wild foods are genetically intact (not manipulated by man) and are able to thrive in the wilderness without any help (adapting through environmental extremes). They often grow in mineral-rich soil and contain a wide array of nutrients that are simply devoid in the modern diet. These nutrients help to maintain a holistic, long-term health and play a vital role in longevity and vitality.
- Finally, bio-diverse natural environments, where wild foods come from, inherently regenerate without depletion and all aspects of these ecosystems are kept within balance.
When we live and eat more in this way and incorporate more of these food groups into our lifestyle, our lives inevitably become invigorating and strong rather than bland and lethargic. All our cells are electrified and toned with the life-force and trace minerals of these plants. Here are four main groups of wild foods and a few ideas on how to incorporate them into your every day lifestyle:
Seaweeds One of the most traditional and widely spread raw & wild foods. It comes from the oceans and naturally contains trace minerals which are essential for wellbeing & thriving. The chemical composition of seaweed is incredibly close to human blood plasma making it an excellent blood strengthener and regulator. Seaweed is also rich in iodine which is an essential trace mineral for a healthy thyroid function and a healthy metabolism. Finally, seaweeds contain up to 10 times more calcium than cows milk making it a great food for those on transition diets from meat and dairy. We love sprinkling kelp flakes on salads, soups, toasts and generally everything we eat. Good quality seaweed sprinkles don't change the taste of food - in fact it enhances everything and brings out more of a depth of flavour.
Mushrooms Medicinal mushrooms such as shiitake, maitake, lion’s mane and reishi have been widely used in European, American and Chinese medicine for thousands of years and are prized for their youthening, tonifying, and immune-boosting qualities. They are also brilliant to calm and balance the nervous system and aid mental focus. Include them into your daily lifestyle either in a dry form, capsules or get them fresh (yes fresh!) from farmers markets around London. Try making this delicious Wild Mushroom & Millet Risotto.
Plants (weeds) You don’t need to look far for edible, nutrient-packed plants wherever you are. The wild staples such as dandelion, nettle, cleaver, clover and others grow in abundance pretty much everywhere in the Northern hemisphere. These key greens are the best super foods for us because they are local, and packed with nutrients to support our wellbeing in our particular environment. Wild greens are not just more potent than the best organic kale, they are free and widely available too! All of the wild greens are rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, chlorophyl and trace minerals. Use them fresh in salads, experiment with adding them to your green smoothies instead of spinach or to soups - you will feel the difference. For even more medicinal benefits use dried roots in a tea.
Berries: Wild berries are a true beauty food and a mood enhancer. Naturally rich in vitamin C and antioxidants they help maintain radiant skin, hair, and a strong immune system. Our favourites are sea-buckthorn, rose hip, goji berry, wild blueberries and wild strawberries. Eat them fresh, add frozen to your smoothies every morning or get some cold-pressed oils and include them to your every day lifestyle and beauty regime.
Written by The Wild Food Cafe, a raw-centric food restaurant in Covent Garden, London. We incorporate wild ingredients in all our dishes and make all our plant-passionate dishes fresh daily on our premises, in an open plan kitchen. Wild Food Cafe also hosts regular raw food weekend immersions and raw food preparation intensives: http://wildfoodcafe.com/