Thanks for checking back!
We are excited to bring yet another video with Wild Foods expert Arthur Haines!
This information, for me, was particularly fascinating, and I think the same is true for Arthur as well!
For centuries people have been enjoying the health benefits of the fermented beverage Kombucha, which is often mistakenly referred to a Chinese Mushroom Tea. In truth, Kombucha, which most likely hails not from China, but from Russia, is tea that has been fermented by a "SCOBY". This is an acronym for a Symbiotic Colony Of Yeast and Bacteria, the strange pancake like colony of organisms that float on top of the ferment.
Typically the Kombucha begins with a steeped tea (literally the Tea plant "Camellia sinensis") and white or "unrefined" cane sugar. The SCOBY, often called the "Mother" is placed into the tea where it (the yeast and bacteria) ferment the feed on the sugars and phytonutrients of the tea, fermenting it into the drink we call Kombucha.
For years I have been told that the Mother required the caffeine from the tea plant, as well as the Sucrose from the sugar. I have seen small Kombucha projects where honey, agave, and other alternative sugar sources have been used, but they ultimately are less functional than sucrose. The flavored and herbed Kombucha we see on the market is made first with tea, and then is infused with other plants after it is fermented.
Arthur has discovered a method that bypasses both the Tea plant as well as the Refined Sugar!What he shares here is a truly Wild food, fully medicinal, and even better tasting than what I was used to!
So, this is an official challenge to the Kombucha producers and communities to up their game!
Have a look and let us know what you think!!! ~Daniel
Oh, almost forgot! Special thanks to Lauren Kinsey, who posted a really valuable comment after seeing the last set of videos with Arthur. I had mentioned that wild plant harvesting by humans can actually benefit the ecosystem. In a portion of her response Lauren's says "I don’t understand how harvesting wild food can “benefit the ecosystem”.
I really appreciated her stepping up to ask because I know that I (and much of my generation) was raised to believe that we are inherently, by our very nature, damaging to ecosystems. This way of seeing the world is very much in vogue today. Arthur shares a very eloquent response;
"It does at first seem like an odd statement that collecting wild plants can actually benefit the ecosystem. But Daniel’s statement is factual. It may be hard to perceive because we simply don’t interact with wild plants as traditional cultures did, which means we lack the knowledge base to understand our role in the ecology of these organisms. Further, we have been taught to “take only pictures, leave only footprints.” This well-intentioned phrase has created a populace that no longer uses and cherishes wild species. Consequently, many do not understand their true value.
There are so many examples of beneficial human interaction it is hard to know where to begin. Consider species such as evening-primrose, a colonizer of open, disturbed places that has an edible taproot. When we gather this root, we kill the plant. However, we also till the ground when we excavate the roots, disturbing the soil and maintaining an open area–which is absolutely necessary for this species. Without repeated disturbance, the area will eventually grow in with taller plants that will shade out the evening-primrose, leading to a loss of that species at that site. When we gather edible seeds and seed-like fruits, we unintentionally scatter or drop some of them, helping the plant to disperse further than it would have otherwise. Native American practices have been shown to increase the abundance of certain species even though lethal collection was being performed. They utilized many traditional practices to ensure plants were not eradicated. Simply gathering bulbs after the seeds had formed would allow the plant to germinate in freshly tilled earth.
We really do need a shift away from the current paradigm of a hands-off approach to nature. This “look but don’t touch” attitude toward nature has been applied too extensively, and many mistakenly believe that all wild beings are better off without any human interaction. However, there exist many examples showing that conscientious use of plants by people is beneficial for those species. Further, experientially learning the uses of wild plants teaches people to value those species while also helping them to become more self-sufficient.
The simultaneous use and conservation of nature requires far more knowledge and skill than simply leaving nature alone. What might appear on the surface to be a wanton act of collection actually represents a gathering system that includes numerous safeguards to protect plants from overharvest. Abstract learning about nature (i.e., learning that doesn’t involve interaction and use) doesn’t accurately portray the value of different species. Without this knowledge, the need to preserve species can’t be fully appreciated.
Best wishes, Arthur Haines