Green Thumbs Up!

Don’t Be Fooled!

Authors: Lincy Taylor, Amy Funkhouser, Meshundra Reese & Melanie Rush.

How to audit food quality, by understanding labels.

When you decide on buying food, of any kind, it can help to think about the quality of those foods that you are purchasing. You want to make sure that you’re trying to nourish your body with clean and wholesome foods.

A great way to make sure of that is to understand quality labels on the foods you are buying. Knowing whether your meats were raised free-range and antibiotic free and if the dairy and second generation products like eggs or offspring are genetically altered, your fruits or vegetable were grown with predetermined genetic modifications with added chemicals or if your baked goods were made with good quality ingredients that weren’t tampered with to give them all a longer shelf life over quality of the products themselves, it is important to be able to know how to choose the very best of these products for yourself by understanding the labels.

Labels are FDA regulated so consumers are able to tell how that items was raised or produced, however some labels can be misleading. Companies, in an attempt to sway buyers will use phrasing and similar packaging to true organic labels and products to fool consumers into buying less than upmost quality ingredients.

Auditing food quality: understanding produce labels.

When it comes to produce, your vegetables, herbs, fruits and nuts even, there are three basic categories of labels that can tell you all you would want to know about the item. Typically with produce a small coded label will be placed on the produce directly. These labels are stickers and are usually made from plastic or polymer and adhere with an FDA approved adhesive, but even though the adhesive is FDA approved it is still inedible.

This means that the adhesive and sticker itself can be digested and will pass through your digestive system if you happen to consume one, it has zero nutritional advantages so it is best to gently remove these labels from your produce as well as to wash your produce before consuming it. Some produce, like apples and other tender fruits may have a thin wax layer on them that can be removed with a quick and gentle Luke-warm wash in water. Lemon juice can help to remove bacteria and impurities from the exterior of your produce also.

The three categories of produce labels are conventional, organic or genetically modified. Being able to determine how your produce was grown is the check the numerical code on the items price look up label, also know as the PLU. If the label has a five digit code on it beginning in a 9, that means that it was grown organically. If the label has a five digit code, but begins with the number 8 that means that the item was genetically modified for bigger or faster growth with hormones or DNA modifications to the seed the item was grown from, and if the label has a four digit code typically beginning with a 3 or a 4 that means that the produce was conventionally grown. Meaning grown with pesticides or with genetic modifications that deter pests altered in the seed itself, or both pesticides and genetic modifications. Ideally when purchasing your produce you will look for a five digit coded label, beginning with a 9 to ensure that the item was grown wholesomely and with care, rather than chemicals and predetermined gene biases in the seeds. Most times you can avoid produce grown with GMOs and chemical pesticides by buying locally and talking to the farmer who grew the produce, which in turn helps the farmer, as well as you, the consumer.

Auditing food quality: understanding meat labels.

Being able to tell real organic meat from conventional is very important. As organic meat does so much more then provide you quality meat. First let’s look at the ways to tell organic from conventional.

Organic meats have many benefits. Those being they contain fewer harmful hormones than conventional food. Having the organic seal means that the meat is 100% organic. With the organic seal you may see other wording. On organic meat you should see; NO Antibiotics Ever, NO added hormones ever. Along with federal regulations prohibit the use of added hormones in that particular meat, crate free gestation & farrowing, not restrained in gestation or farrowing crates. Also born, raised and harvested in the USA and the official organic seal. The organic seal should be green or black. These should all be on your meat labels, don’t be fooled. This is the regulations to make sure you are getting 100% organic meat. In pork and poultry they are given food free of synthetic pesticides. The animals are not given antibiotics.

Experts agree regular use of these drugs can lead to dangerous antibiotic resistant bacteria. In beef, cattle on non-organic farms are given sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen so they will grow faster. Some experts agree this is leading to early puberty in girls.

Watch very closely if you see packaging with wording like made with organic ingredients then the product contains at least 70% organic ingredients. Companies try to trick consumers by placing look alike labels or the wording natural on the packages. This is called “green-washing”. In the US a certifying agent and are allowed to use the USDA Organic seal.

Not all organic farmers can label their products organic because they are not officially certified. Often because they are a small farm so it’s not worth the cost to get certified. You can find these at local butcher shops. When shopping at a butcher shop ask questions. Where was the animal raised? You want to make sure its local. Is it free of antibiotics? Is it free of hormones? This is what organic meat is and you should make sure of when looking to find a local butcher.

Buying local organic meat has many benefits for local businesses, people and the planet. I have included labels of organic meat for you to reference and conventional meat so you can see the difference. There was one label that confused me that I found. After picking it up and reading small print I was able to find it wasn’t truly organic. It also didn’t have the seal in green and black. Deception of meat posing as organic is everywhere. You have to be vigilant. Hopefully I have shed light on what to look for next time you are buying organic meat.

Auditing food quality: understanding baked goods labels.

Most people never really think about what is in the bread that we eat, in fact, many of us only assume the role of consumer and believe whatever the label says and nothing beyond the curtains of the food’s preparation process ever really translates onto the finished product in our minds after the fact, at least not until there’s a problem.

In today’s food trend, many people are trying to avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their food and opting to buy more organic products, whether it’s with the intent to eat healthier or to control health issues. A growing demand that many food Producers are capitalizing on and even going as far as marketing their food products as, ‘Non-GMO’ or ‘Organic”, without truly living up to their product’s label. So how do you know what you’re buying? The USDA and the Non-GMO Project have companies to put Verified seals of their labels that indicate to consumers the absence of GMOs.

In order for a product to be considered organic, it should inform the consumers that it is free of any artificial agents, such as chemical fertilizers or pesticides, from farm to table. A big difference from products that are considered fresh, which suggests that the food is unprocessed or raw and has not been frozen or subjected to any form of thermal processing (other than preservation). However, reasonable to claim that an item is. The FDA states that there can be no such item as “fresh” bread, even though “freshness” is insinuated on the labels or descriptions.

In common use, a fresh loaf of bread is one that has been baked recently (usually within a day) and there is no guarantee that bread purchased as “Fresh” or “Fresh baked” will not include these ingredients. The FDA can’t actually regulate the words “fresh” or “organic” on labels.

Most people would agree that fresh bread has better flavor and texture than bread that is less fresh or ‘day old’, and that fresh breads made with organic or non-organic ingredients are better in terms of flavor and texture.

I think it’s very important that consumers are able to make informed decisions about GMOs through both the Non-GMO Project and USDA Organic certification.

Auditing food quality: understanding dairy and egg labels.

There is a little bit of controversy over whether all egg and dairy has GMO or other additives in them. I personally was under the impression that the product was simply based on the feed.

While making sure your cattle and chickens are getting all natural food from a local source sounds good, it is not easy to know for sure. Unless you are part of a local group or company that does this, there is no saying what your getting.

Practically all milk has GMO in it. While milk itself is not genetically engineered, the food the cows are given usually is. Most conventional milk comes from cows who have been given supplemental corn and soy. If your milk has a label saying “non-GMO” it simply means the cows have not been fed such feed. A dairy cow is primarily fed alfalfa, hay, corn, and soy. Of those four only two are not genetically engineered. Based on an article from the San Francisco Chronicle some farmers have reported that non-GMO feed is to expensive, almost doubling in price. Another article written by a former dairy farmer states “Thus, the claim that “GMOs are in your milk” is false – there are no plant genes of any kind in any milk, just some fragments of DNA”. If you are able to find milk labeled “non-GMO” or “organic” then the cow has not been fed any sort of genetically modified feed.

Now let’s take a crack at whether eggs are filled with GMO or not. Put simply “Real eggs are GMO free”. According to the American Egg Board “Scientific research has confirmed that none of the genetically engineered materials are passed into the egg”. A chicken is typically fed corn and soy beans that have been genetically modified. Whether your hen gets GMO or organic, their body’s digestive track breaks down the proteins and nucleic acid. Also according to the Center of Food Safety, “Right now, no genetically engineered egg-laying chickens are on the market. Nevertheless, non-organic, egg-producing chickens eat genetically modified grains such as corn and soy”. Based on these findings, I believe it would be safe to say that eggs are a GMO free food.

#dontbefooled #organic #organiclabel #foodlabels #organicmeat #organicvegetables #organicfruit #organicproduce #organicdairy #organiceggs #organicbakedgoods #organicseal #doesanddon’tsorganic #whattolookfororganic #organicfoodlabels



Green Thumbs Up!

Ready, set… float.

Every day is a new gift and sometimes being prepared for the next day seems to be a goal that, at times, is difficult to achieve. However, if disaster strikes being prepared could save the day, and your life. It’s hard to be prepared for the worst case of anything, from family emergencies to natural disasters, but with proper research and knowledge, and a small investment you can create a basic disaster preparedness kit for your entire family to make sure that in the event of an emergency you can be better prepared to keep yourself and family safe until you can seek more stability or refuge from such events. With a little ingenuity you can have yourself and your family as prepared as possible for anything. In your basic disaster preparedness kit you should have certain essentials that are ready to go at any time, this kit should include a first aid kit with effects such as triple antibiotic ointment, bandages, gauze, medical tape and sterile compresses for wound care as well as means of sterilization for wounds like antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, general medicine (asprin, antiacid, pain reliever, etc) tweezers, scissors, gloves, hydrocortizone cream and a thermometer. It is also important to include medicine that you cannot do without like blood pressure or other necessary medicines. Each first aid emergency kit should have enough of each item for whatever number of family members you might have to be able to use one item or one use quantity of each item for a total of 3 days. (EX: 6 family members, 3 day kit you would want to have enough supplies for 36 uses of each item. Like a 36 quantity bottle of aspirin, large tube with 36 uses of antibiotic ointment and so on.) Once you have a fully prepared first aid kit, you want to think basic means for each person for at least 3 days, and other essential that could come in handy in an emergency situation like waterproof matches and candles. Each person should have one fresh change of clothes, and since you may never know when disaster may strike you will want to think ahead to be prepared for any season, meaning that each person should have a fresh set of clothes with multiple layers, socks, underwear, shirt, jacket, shoes, shorts etc, so that you are prepared no matter what season you may be afflicted by disaster. To go even further and be better prepared you can add items to your kit like a whistle, emergency or Mylar blanket (one per person for kit), sleeping bags, tent, cell phone with charger or solar chargers, flash lights, extra batteries, LED head lamp for hands free use of light in emergency situations, emergency flares or glow sticks, candles, moist towelettes or baby wipes and travel sized personal care items for each person with feminine care products in mind for any female that may need said items in case of an emergency. Other emergency items like rope, zip ties, gloves, Hot hands warmers, hand-crank radio and flashlight, extra batteries for said devices if you cannot buy a hand-crank version. A basic tool kit or multi-tool can come in handy in your kit for extra means in an emergency situation.

Aside from first aid and basic emergency supplies for everyone in your household, you will also need to think about food and water supplies for each person. Most kits are suggested to be stocked for up to a 3 day supply for each person. Every person in your house should have 1 gallon of water for hydration as well as sanitation, per day. So if you have 6 people in your house, to be prepared on water supply for 3 days you will need 36 gallons of clean water in total. You can achieve this by utilizing water bottles, gallon jugs, 5 gallon refillable water jugs for or an emergency water bladder that can be filled with clean fresh water and typically has a larger capacity. You can also purchase water purification tables or other travel sized water purification means if providing a large supply of clean water might be difficult in the case of an evacuation emergency. For each person you will also need at least a 3 day supply of non-perishable food items for each person. Some easy things to store and pack are items like peanut butter, canned vegetables, meals like chili or stew, fruits, crackers, jerky, soup, canned or packaged tuna and chicken. Items like energy or granola bars, electrolyte powdered supplements, instant coffee packages, and dehydrated food items are all easy to store and stay good for quite some time, making your kit more effective as you will want to update your non-perishables annually or as needed to keep your kit up to date in case of an emergency. You can also think about items like MRE’s or other easy to store and minimally packaged items can be very beneficial to your kit and also give some variety and balance to your food supply especially if you have small children in your emergency plan, because although there may be an emergency of whatever kind, small things like variety and activities that can be planned and prepared for to take with you in your kit can help to keep the peace and minimize tantrums and meltdowns in the instance of an emergency. If you want to take things a bit further, you could prep your own emergency supplies by purchasing a food dehydrator or learning how to utilize your oven to dehydrate foods and take to making your own dehydrated items like, fruit, jerky and other items. In which case your can add a bit more customization and care into each kit by being able to make your own prolonged shelf-life food items better suited for your family. When you prepare your food for your emergency kit you can use storage in your kit as a way of saving space and giving yourself more items in case you need them all in one. Mason or air tight lid locking glass or hard plastic storage containers are useful for storing item in your kit inside. For instance you can store baking mix in a large glass mason jar keeping it safe from air and pests and then having a water tight vessel for storage once it is empty as well as a sanitary container for emergency food prep. Storing sterile first aid items in air tight containers also protects the items and allows them to be waterproof in case of a flood emergency and improves their shelf life. Once you have water, food, first aid and basic essentials squared away for each member you can also prepare for an emergency by creating an all-in-one family disaster plan and important document binder. Having a laminated copy of any important personal or family documents allows you to have all that important information in one place, as well as, water resistant. Going over family emergency plans can help to improve the execution of the plan for when the time comes and also give a bit of ease and peace of mind to those facing the emergency, whichever type it may be. Having emergency cash along with your personal documents in an air and water tight container or even zip lock baggies can be useful for after the disaster so you are able to have it as needed. Other personalizations to your emergency kit can come in handy, like a mess kit and small pot for having basic essentials for when you need food. A smaller packaged self-inflatable raft with a larger load capacity. A small bottle of vodka can be useful as it can be used to clean and sterilize wounds and utensils. An emergency activity kit like battery operated hand held devices, cards and other small games can help to distract from the circumstances and keep peace among children. If you have pets you can create a special emergency 3 day kit for each pet or animal so that they have everything they might need. You can also better prepare yourself in case of an emergency by backing up all family photos, documents, certificates or anything else you might include by scanning and saving digital copies to a storage system like a Cloud drive or multi access system like Google docs so that you can access all your information on a back up drive or back up service. My described emergency preparedness kit above is more tailored to a larger family, 4-8 people, in the case of a flood but can be altered or adapted to suit any size group for any type of emergency with just a little bit of early preparation. Storing things inside your emergency kit is fairly essential because you’ll want a large enough water-tight and air-tight vessel to hold all essential item for your size group with ease of access in mind (EX: crush-able or food items and first aid will likely be at the top of your kit for more sound packing and easier access to items as you would generally need them on top of other items like changes of clothes and emergency blankets and camping/living gear.)

Another helpful tip for when it comes to an emergency situation, especially a flood. Since most are at least some what predictable with weather radio and apps if you expect your residence might flood you can use air and water tight appliances like a safe, dishwasher and even a fridge to store hard to replace items like photos and valuables such as jewelry and anything else you might include. Appliances like this even if they are ruined electrically from flooding are water tight and can keep whatever is inside them from being ruined in the case of an emergency and are typically easier to locate after a flood so that you don’t try to load and carry everything you own. Being prepared can make a world of difference, especially in an emergency situation and can be a great way to ensure that you have peace of mind for yourself and your entire family, even your pets and can prevent from further damage and loss in the event of an emergency. Because it is always better to be proactive rather than reactive, especially when it comes to Mother Nature.


Green Thumbs Up!

Baby, it’s getting cold outside.

When it comes to gardening and using your green thumb, some people seem to just have ‘it’ and some don’t. Growing up I remember my great-grandfather, a several generations farmer, would always take a nice long walk through his fields and then through his personal garden that he and my great-grandmother had. He talked to his plants as if they spoke back to him. Being so young, I often thought they could. He taught me several tricks for gardening that I have kept with me through the years, and have often come in handy when I grown anything for myself. Where I am from in Northeastern Arkansas we had to prepare our plants to withstand, at times, severally dry summers and bitter cold winters. Although most of the tricks I learned can be used universally all over the United States, some regions face more extremes when it comes to weather. For instance the Northeastern part of the United States (from Pennsylvania and West Virginia all the way up to the Canadian border along the Atlantic.) experience even more intense winters with higher snowfall, more frozen precipitation and severe weather conditions carried inland from the Atlantic.

Ideally to weatherproof your garden you will sit and take the time to research your zones climate, ideal foliage and crops and create a garden system that gives you the best upper hand for year round climate changes. The easiest way to give yourself the best chances is to invest in your garden. With strategic planning you could weatherproof your garden to be relatively low maintenance and able to be sustainable year round, despite initial costs. Underground greenhouses give the best protection from most any elements, no matter what region you may be in. If you are able to install an underground green house you would want to start by choosing the best location to put it. Likely in a slight hillside or terrain incline, making it both easier to install and more resilient. With an underground greenhouse installment you can give a more stable temperature with more insulation. Once you have an ideal location for your greenhouse you would then want to find a way to give it more structure, like digging out enough space to put up a frame in the ground to support to proposed roof for your greenhouse, and with enough planning you can use your roof and it’s natural slope to collect rainwater to store for your plants when rain seems to be neigh, as well as, being more cost effective when it comes to watering your plants. From there, the installation of your greenhouse, you can decide the best places for whichever plants or crops you intend to grow. A ‘green wall’ of herbs or small plants can allow for space saving as well as a beautiful feature. With an underground greenhouse your plants can still receive plenty of sunlight and with adequate features you can also install lights, heat and air, that also depends on what you’re willing to spend. From there most things will be able to be planned accordingly based on what you might grow, although the first chore of finding an ideal location for your greenhouse is the most important to avoid flooding, and damage from elements impacting on your greenhouse. Having your greenhouse in the ground also helps to protect your plants from wind. However, if you cannot afford for a costly installment like an underground greenhouse, especially in the Northeast, there are several other routes to take that can help you to weatherproof your garden. If you have plants that are in containers, like a tree or large plant that is still immature you can give it an advantage of moving it to an above ground assembled greenhouse or by insulating the container it is in by packing mulch around the container. If you have more than one, or several containers, you can find a location that is typically out of the path of wind like along side a house or building. You could also build a small raised bed structure and place all of your plants that are in containers inside of the raised bed and insulate with sand and mulch around them tightly. For plants that aren’t in containers can be protected by what I like to call layering. You can plant stronger trees or foliage as a somewhat barrier for smaller and more vulnerable plants to protect them from the elements. When planting it can help to prepare for anything, starting with the plants you choose. Some plants grow better in different environments and growing plants that are more frail to colder temperatures wouldn’t be ideal to grown in the Northeast and would likely die at the first signs of chill unless given proper care and advantages.

For garden plants that are grown in raised beds or in the ground face some advantages as well as their disadvantages. Raised beds are ideal if you want to get an early start to the growing season because the soil in raised beds warms faster than the soil in the ground, but in the same hand the soil is able to cool faster closer to fall which can mean bad news for plants inside of them. For both grown in raised bed and in soil plants there are several ways to help guard your plants from an early death when fall comes around. Layering the soil with mulch can help to insulate plants and their roots, giving them more longevity throughout the fall. Also combining recycling with gardening you can use larger recycled containers like milk jugs, 5 gallon buckets and other larger items weighted and placed over more delicate plants can protect them from heavy wind, rain and also create more of a micro-climate for your plant, giving it even more protection from the elements.

There are several ways to give yourself an upper hand and prolong your growing season, or even give you the advantage of year round growing and knowledge is key to having everything you can to have to most success.


Green Thumbs Up!

Always in a curry…

When most people think of curry you may be transported to the place where it is best known, which is India. However, curry like most dishes has it’s roots in more than one place. Curry is a dish that can be found with it’s own flare in several parts of the world. All adapted and descended of a sure fire recipe.

Curry, even in India isn’t all one in the same. The ratio of spices differs from recipe to recipe and dish to dish, as most recipes do all over the world. If a chef is looking for a mixture of curry spice that isn’t quite as spicy they may choose to have more of the less potent spices in their mix, which is usually made from toasting, cooling and then grinding up whole spice to create their curry powder and if they prefer it more spicy they can add more dried chilies, or cayenne pepper to create a more robust and spicy dish. The typical dish is made with chicken but it can certainly be made with different proteins and even here in the United States you can find a vegan friendly adapted recipe where you can substitute a more dense vegetable like and egg plant, squash or potatoes to create a unique and tasty dish. Often times to give a curry a creamy texture you can add in yogurt, cream or even coconut milk which can help to elevate and create another depth to your dish.

Typically the dish is served with rice like basmati, or even wild long grain rice depending on your adapted dish. Although curry dishes come in all different types, spices and such I focused more on dishes that are common in North America. Typically the ones that are adapted to personal preference are generally less spicy than the ones originating from India. The recipe I found is one from an American chef who adapted a chicken curry recipe to be more ideal for her family and since it was for her little ones, she changed the ratio of her spices to still have a nice robust flavor, but less heat. I recreated her recipe and like most chefs changed it a bit to make it more friendly for my own family. The chef whose recipe I used made chicken curry, in a beautiful sauce with green peas, served over white rice. Since I did not have green peas or plain white rice, I omitted the peas from my version of the curry and decided to serve mine over a bed of earthy and delicious quinoa instead. This was my first time preparing or even having curry of any kind so I invited my friend and neighbor to come over and have this dish with me so that she could learn how to prepare it herself and could also give me tips and feedback on the finished dish, since she has had curry dishes before. The recipe for the dish was simple and easy. Once I read the original chefs reason for adapting the recipe and cutting down on the heat and adding a bit more decadent flavor with coconut milk instead of cream or yogurt I decided that it was an ideal dish for us, as we both have smaller children who would be eating the dish.

Curry is a dish where the protein and other ingredients are cooked in a sauce that it is also served in. This allows all the flavors to combine and get to know one another and bring a deeper flavor to the protein itself. Most curries have your typical spices, like cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, chili powder or cayenne powder, ginger and various other spices; and depending on the dish and your preference of heat and flavor depends on the ratio of those spices. We used a recipe with less heat, but not necessarily less flavor. Although we still had hotter spices like chili powder and cayenne pepper we added slightly less of the more potent heat spices and added more cumin and ginger. Still giving us some heat but not overbearing and packed with flavor. First you use a small bit of vegetable oil to cook up your chicken, which you want to cut into quarter inch pieces, then season with the curry powder, salt and pepper, then cook until almost done. Remove the chicken and set aside while you add just a small bit more of your vegetable oil, curry powder and some finely chopped yellow onion and saute it in the same pan. Once the onions start to look opaque add in some minced garlic. Once the onion and garlic have been sauteed and are generously aromatic you add your par-cooked chicken back into your pan to finish cooking, followed by some low sodium chicken stock, a dash of sugar, cornstarch, cilantro and coconut milk. Once all your ingredients are in your pan bring them up to a low simmer and allow the sauce to thicken while all your other ingredients finish mingling and cooking. Once your curry is done it is ready to be served over some pre-prepared rice, or in my case some delicious and beautiful quinoa. Although curry in any case is typically a breeze to prepare, the North American takes on the dish are usually the ‘short order’ or faster versions of more traditional recipes because we like convenience as much as we like flavor and in this case where you can have both, it’s a win-win. With all of the beautiful and fragrant spices that go into your curry that help to infuse your chicken, or protein of choice, with lots of flavor also creates an aromatic and delightful sauce or ‘gravy’ that can be served with it as a wonderful addition to the dish, but of course can be served without. So no matter what your take or favorite version of curry may be, the levels of flavor and characteristics of the dish are usually close to the same and the versatility of the recipe allows you to give it your own signature take, from using whole heavy cream or coconut milk for less calories and another level of flavor and aroma to much more spices for a potent kick of heat you can find a perfect curry for you no matter where you are.

That is and always will be one of the best aspects of learning culinary cuisines and recipes, you can travel anywhere in the world through food, right in your own home.



1.5 lbs. chicken breast (1/4 inch strips)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

2 1/2 tsp. curry powder

3 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 med. yellow onion, finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tbsp. ground ginger

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 tbsp. cornstarch

2 tsp. sugar

1/4 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Green Thumbs Up!

An awful lot of Oxalis stricta

Oxalis stricta-
Growing up in the south allowed me many things. One of those things and some of my fondest memories is growing up among the trees. We had a lot of land which I grew up on, as well as, most places I would go. Being able to step outside and decide that an adventure in the woods was warranted, then simply walk off into the trees and explore was some of the best memories I’ll ever have. Everything was magical and wonderful. Full of life and music from the sounds of birds, bugs, and animals. It was during one of those grand adventures that I first came across ‘sour grass’, or Oxalis stricta. I was walking through our land with my dad, looking for signs of the habitual trails of white tail deer, when we came across some. My first thought was of its beauty, I had never seen yellow flowered clovers before, and that’s when my dad chuckled and told me that that wasn’t simply clover, but sour grass and that if I ate it, it would be sour like candy. A bit, hesitant at first, I tried it and it was quite sour. From then on every so often when I came across it I would gather some and eat it. I used it to feign ingredients in sun baked mud pies and freshly foraged grass salads, and as a child it was a wonderful part of being outdoors. To research further into these memories has been so enlightening and nostalgic to say the least. When I started off on my outdoor exploration to search for wild herbs near me, the sour grass never crossed my mind; although it was all around me. I even plucked some on my way back in to write and research only to have the subtle, tender green leaves of the sour grass take my mind back to the time when I was walking through the woods with my dad and had tasted it first. I snapped a photo and had my treat then tended to my research. Later to find that not only was sour grass considered an herb it was one of my very favorites to have, I decided that it was the perfect one for me to research. Growing wild, abundant and in nearly all the continental U.S. as well as parts of Canada, it needs little water and moderate sunlight for optimal growth. It is almost considered to be invasive in some ways as it spreads easily and doesn’t have many specific needs to grow. The scientific name for sour grass is Oxalis stricta, but it is more commonly referred to as Yellow Wood Sorrel. It is a perennial herb, which means it is in bloom a lot, typically from May all the way until October and can be harvested at any time during then. Although you can eat all parts of the plant, and it has many applications, from soups and salads to sauces and tasty teas to consume it in especially, large quantities has been known to cause stomach cramps, dizziness and trembling, however, in small quantities it is incredibly versatile and if you like, sour, it is quite tasty. It’s creamy yellow flowers and the plant itself can be boiled to make dyes, or simply the leaves for tart teas. You can add it into salads for a somewhat lemony flavor or wash and add the root to salads for additional nutrients and subtle flavor. Since it grows abundantly and in most places it would be easy to gather and often use, but be mindful of consumption in large quantities to avoid an undesired side effect. Learning what grows around you and what you can grow properly in the zones and places you live can be an easy way to get into gardening, everyone from small children to mature adults. Growing new and usable plants can be incredibly cost effective, beneficial to your health and a great way to relax. As a chef and a lover of things’ nature and splendor, I look forward to sharing with my friends and loved ones the uses, and advantages of knowing what you can use and what you can readily find around, you can elevate your food and state of mind. Because wholesome and fresh are an important part of good eats, and great memories.