In 1962 a fellow named Euell Gibbons published a book titled “Stalking the Wild Asparagus” which hit a responsive cord with the public and became an instant best seller.
Over the next ten years Gibbons wrote several other books about foraging for wild food and became the TV spokesman for Grape Nuts cereal. There were some who criticized Gibbons for selling out to corporate greed, but at the very least he opened the world’s eyes to the host of edible plants growing wild all around us. It is believed by many that Euell Gibbons inadvertently founded the natural food craze. Thanks Euell.
One of my favorite activities each fall is to search the riparian woods along the river near my home and gather my winter’s supply of wild rose hips. Last weekend, my grandson Josh and I went into the woods on such an excursion. We filled a gallon bucket with rose hips in less than an hour. It was great fun and a good way for Grandpa and Grandson to spend time together. Upon returning home we spread the rose hips onto cookie sheets and place them in the sun to dry. If the weather is wet and rainy, you can put the rose hips into glass baking dishes and dry them on your lowest oven setting.
Rose hip tea is a beautiful rosy red drink that is high in vitamin C and quite tasty. Sometimes I mix the rose hips with wild peppermint leaves that I’ve gathered and dried, but for the most part I drink my rose hip tea straight. Either way, it’s a healthy alternative to kicking the caffeine habit. Not only that, but rose hip gathering is another great excuse for going into woods. It’s good therapy for both body and soul. I heartily recommend it.
While you’re in the woods you might want to keep your eyes open for turkey tail mushrooms. The Turkey Tail mushroom, (Trametes Versicolor) grows in wooded areas all over the world. The mushroom grows on dead trees and grows in a fan-shape from the decaying wood Turkey tails have stripes or bands of varying colors so that they resemble the striped tail of a wild turkey, hence their common name. For thousands of years humans have harvested turkey tails and used them for medicinal purposes. Probably the most common way of using turkey tail mushrooms is by boiling the mushroom chunks in water to make a tea. A secondary form of using turkey tails is to dry them and then grind them into powder which can then be ingested.
Since turkey tails are a natural product, they can’t be patented and thus pharmaceutical companies have shown no interest in making them available to the public. In recent years however The National Institutes of Health has authorized several studies on the efficacy of Turkey Tail Mushrooms in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Thus far, studies have shown that turkey tail mushrooms contribute to a significant reduction of returning tumors in patients undergoing breast cancer treatments. New studies jointly conducted by the University of Minnesota and Bastyr University are under way to evaluate the effectiveness of turkey tail mushrooms on lung cancer and colon cancer.
Although Tail Mushrooms are now approved for use by the FDA, there are still limited studies out there to rely on. There is however an amazing number of antecdotal cases where the use of turkey tail mushrooms have eradicated cancers in people with stage four terminal cancers. A great example is related by mycologist Paul Stamets whose 80+ year old mother had a massive case of breast cancer and was given only months to live. Because she was so old, the doctors decided not to resort to sugery, radiation, or chemotherapy for her treatment but instead used the drug Taxol along with large doses of Turkey Tail Mushrooms. After about a year of therapy, Mrs. Stamet’s was completely cancer free. Check it out on You tube for Mr. Statmet’s actual observations.
While the final word is not in on Turkey Tail Mushrooms, it is a great excuse to get out into the woods and look for them in the wild. You’ll find them growing on downed trees or on standing dead trees. The varicolored bands that resemble a wild turkeys tail are a pretty good indicator that you’ve found one. I pick them each fall, dry them & then run the dried chunks thru my coffee grinder, Mix the Turkey tail powder with an equal amount of rose hips amd you’ll have a tea that tastes great and is great for you as well.
Until next week,