Europeans carefully packed dandelion seeds when they came to North America, as part of their survival gear.
This valuable herb had a reputation for being survival food. The first to pop up its sunny head in the spring, dandelions provide an abundance of nourishment from its roots, to its stem, to its leaves, to its buds, right on up to its blossom.
For many, it was the first greens they had after several months of doing without. Instead of cursed, the dandelion’s resilience was a thing to be celebrated. It supplied the early homesteaders with vital vitamins and nutrients and was thought of as a spring tonic. The young leaves and buds were fried up, or made into salads and considered a long anticipated treat.
In the fall roots were harvested to produce a delicious coffee, while the large leaves were dried to crumble into winter soups and stews.
Today, pollinators still rejoice at this first bit of valuable food come spring. When the dandelions bloom, bees and butterflies descend with joy.
Humans have lost their appreciation for this much maligned herb, and prefer to spend their money on salad greens in plastic packaging, and then more money buying weed killer to get rid of dandelions on their patches of emerald green lawn.
Worse, the herbicides we spray are thought to have detrimental effects on the pollinators we need for our other, more appreciated, food crops.
What a strange species we can be!
As with any herb, some people will have allergic reactions to dandelions, especially if you have latex allergies. A natural diuretic, it should not be consumed if you are already taking diuretics.
Dandelions are best consumed when young and at their tastiest. Older ones are just as good for you, but more bitter. And, of course, make sure you are harvesting your dandelions from areas that haven’t been sprayed with chemicals. Bon Appetit!
For a more comprehensive look at all the things dandelions can do for our health, check out this previous post What are Dandelions Good For? Absolutely Everything!