By Anna Fernandez
The life force in a biannual or perennial plant is evident in the greenness of its leaves and the vibrancy of its flower. As it begins to die back in the fall, that life force is not lost; it is transferred into the root, which embraces it and keeps it safe until the next growing season.
Thinking of it this way, when using roots as medicines, one can see why the best time to harvest such a treasure is in the late fall or early spring — when the life force is still strongest in the root.
Winter is an important time to take certain root medicines because of the nature of our winter lifestyles; eating heavier foods and spending less time outdoors results in less digestive vitality and lack of activity, which can make us vulnerable to illness. Certain roots can be taken daily over time to restore and tone the organs and systems, bringing about overall health and well-being and potentially preventing imbalance and disease. Herbs taken in this way are called tonics. Other roots are taken for a short duration in response to acute symptoms.
Many local Michigan plants have roots that are considered tonics. Some are abundant, well known, and considered to be like a food. Others are more medicinal and often harder to find. Southeast Michigan boasts an array of both.
Dandelion root is an easy-to-find tonic herb known for its nutritive value. It is gentle yet effective for improving liver, gallbladder, and overall digestive function, and it may also help normalize blood sugar levels. This underutilized plant may play a key role in preventative medicine.
Burdock root is rich in minerals and can be eaten in stir-fries and is great in soups. Burdock is used as a tonic to support the liver and aid in digestion. It helps to restore normal function by improving metabolism and aiding in the elimination of waste products. This root also stimulates circulation in the skin and is frequently used for skin conditions, especially ones of the dry and scaly variety that often present during the winter months.
The root of the Astragalus plant is used as an immune tonic to strengthen the overall immune system, build resistance, and prevent common infections. Mild in flavor, it is a great addition to hearty winter soups.
Adaptogens are a group of herbs considered to be the ultimate tonics. Many of the most highly revered adaptogens are roots. These herbs increase overall health and vitality by modulating the body’s response to stressors via the endocrine system, which in turn boosts immune and nervous system function. Some adaptogen roots include Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Eleuthero, and Licorice.
Echinacea root, although not considered a tonic, is widely used as an immune boosting herb taken over a short duration in frequent doses at the first sign of a sniffle. It boosts white blood cell count and encourages the body to do the housecleaning necessary to stay healthy.
These roots can be harvested and made into winter medicines, including teas, tinctures syrups, capsules, and so on. Alternatively, you can find them in many forms at your local herbalist or health food store.
These roots are a small representation of herbs available for maintaining wellness. It makes sense that the deep, earthy energy of roots would play a role in helping us stay healthy in the long, dark, and cold winter months.
Anna Fernandez is an herbalist and the owner of Mother Bloom Botanicals. She’s also a midwife with New Moon Midwifery. She lives outside of Chelsea on a small farm with her husband and two children. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coffee has always been this rather predictable dark beverage served upon waking or with a friend while we engaged in deep conversation. I never gave the making of coffee much thought except for finding a roast I like and a brewing method that worked for my taste and lifestyle. These two things have changed over the years—the only consistent being that I like it simple and on the stout side. I recently became more curious about specialty coffee, especially our local artisan scene.
When my business partners and I bought the property that Stone Coop Farm lives on in November of 2011, I knew we had to save it as farmland for future generations. Our farm is on 30 acres, but it is zoned residential. 1000 new homes in four new subdivisions are being built on both sides of us. I can hear the excavation equipment every day. A wastewater treatment plant is being built and the high-pressure sewer line will be connecting these subdivisions along our property line. Developers are approaching us to sell the farm, so that more homes can be built. The value of our land is increasing as residential lots, not as farmland. I know my mission is to save the farm, but that often feels like an insurmountable task, given what’s going on around me.
I watched the man through the window stretch a length of dough arms width apart, bring the ends together, twist it, slap it on his work table, then repeat the process until the noodles were ready to be cooked. These noodles were about to be my dinner.
Do you ever think about the nutrients that are in the foods we eat? Are you getting adequate amounts? Are they benefiting you in a positive way? These are important questions when it comes to nutrition. To ensure that you are on the right path to living a long healthy life, I invite you to pay close attention to the next bite you take. Proper nourishment is essential for the healthy development and growth of children, as well. Let’s set a good example and teach our children what healthy really tastes like.
Silvio’s Organic Handmade Italian Food is one part homemade-funky and one part down-to-earth passion for eating right. The motto on his website says it best: “You can eat food, good food, bad food, fast food or you can have a genuine food experience.” Silvio beckons those who pursue the food experience and shares his joy of food by embracing the different eating needs we currently see in ourselves and around us.
When my friends told me about a Sunday Winter Farmers Market, my husband and I jumped in the van and headed to Webster Township. It was a particularly cold day. Thankfully, aromatic hot coffee greeted us at the door. Violet Raterman, one of the market managers, helped us navigate the market for our first visit. The entire experience was moving for some reason, but I could not put my finger on it. I had to find out more about the people behind this market and the space in which it thrived.
Downtown Ypsilanti is becoming a vibrant place full of new life and new businesses. There are enough shops, cafes, parks, and restaurants to spend a pleasant day tooling around. One of the newest places to finish your day and enjoy a delicious meal and, if you choose, a beer or well-made cocktail is Dolores, a Mexican restaurant located on Washington Street at Michigan Avenue in the former Elbow Room building.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “detox”? You might think drug or alcohol detox. Perhaps fasting or eating and drinking things like wheatgrass juice is what comes to mind. It may surprise you to learn that detoxing is none of those things. In fact, my interpretation will change your entire outlook on what a detox is.
When I turned nineteen, a whole new world of food was opened up to me through the People’s Food Co-Op. Although my aunt and father had been members since the 1970s, and I was somewhat knowledgeable about natural food diets, I certainly did not know what the heck to do with a salty paste made of fermented soy beans, rice, or barley. I had enjoyed miso soup in Japanese restaurants, but that was not the best introduction, as it was thin and lacked vegetables and other ingredients we now use more abundantly, such as shiitake mushrooms, soba noodles, seaweed, lotus root, dried fish, and fermented vegetables. As western society’s knowledge of the world of natural foods has matured, thanks in part to the growing “foodie culture,” we have widened our awareness of whole food cooking and ingredients.
As a young mom and graduate student, this shopper, now in her mid-thirties, used Double Up Food Bucks during her last year in school—stretching her food dollars at the farmers markets for fresh, nutritious produce for her family. Today, she’s a social worker in the area and a Double Up volunteer who refers others with food needs to the program.
I never leave the house without it. If I forget it, guess what? I’m going back for it. I take it everywhere I go. It even sits on my bedside table each night. It has become my staple. I’m lost without it. It’s refreshing, tastes great (especially infused!) and the best part is, it’s doing wonders for my body. I’m talking about water, of course.
Summer is a wonderful time for getting outside and being active. But when it comes to eating healthy, there can be an awful lot of temptation — especially with summer holidays and BBQs. By following the tips below, you can have fun and feel good about your choices at the same time.
According to Sophie Egan in her book Devoured, March 2015 was a watershed moment in the eating lives of Americans: for the first time since the government began tracking our spending habits around food, we spent more money on food prepared outside the home (restaurants, takeout, etc.) than on groceries that we cooked at home.
It's the middle of winter. It's dark. It's cold. It's gray. The holiday festivities are over for another year. No need to fear! Fire Cider is here!
Pretty much everyone has been touched in some way by heart disease, and the scary part is that many people don’t know they are at risk until it’s too late. How come we’re left in the dark?
By Gary Merel
As a nation, we are dangerously unhealthy. According to the National Institute of Health, in the U.S. :
- We have one of the highest rates of cancer in the world
- Almost 70 percent of men and women over the age of 25 are overweight
- 17 million Americans have Type II diabetes