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Great Canadian Wild Herbs

There are an infinite number of plants that grow around our world. Many of which are edible, while a select few are not. Certain parts of the world have beautiful plants that grow year round, and others only seasonal. We, as humans, should be thankful for the abundance of such an array of foliage.

Many cultures and/or societies today practice horticultural etiquette which jeopardizes the very nature of some of these sustained permacultures. Several of us who live in the “Western World” have come to understand the plant world as selective or monoculturistic. We try our best to preserve a lawn or flower garden that is immaculate in design and look – all in the name of vanity. On the other hand, there is a group of individuals (which is continuously growing) whom are trying, in the best of their ability, to preserve the very beauty and essence of our natural ecosystems.

It is possible to find some of this wholesome goodness right in your own “backyard”. For many of us, it’s a matter of reconnecting with the earth and discovering all her beauty; to be thankful for the food and medicine she has provided to us all. CLICK HERE to watch a video where we show you a few wild herbs that grow in our very own backyard here in Canada. This, of course, is only possible if one does not cut their lawn, however, their are many national parks and green spaces available to us all which gives us the opportunity to go foraging – how exciting!

Further to some of the wild herbs pointed out in the video (i.e. salsify, red/white clover, sweetgrass, quackgrass, plantain, dandelion, bugleweed, burdock, chamomile, cham namul, skullcap), there are many others that I haven’t touched upon that grace our lands. Some others which grow in our part of the world (Canada) include: wild chive, fleabane, nettle, thistle, butter and eggs, goldenrod, black eyed susan, cone flower (aka echinacea), chicory, chickweed, ragweed, mullein, lily, wild mint, daisy, and a variety of ferns to name just a few. I encourage all of you (as nothing is impossible) to venture out in your backyard, or local park and see what beauty you can discover. Who knows, you may find something you have been long looking for.

Let’s be respectful of the earth (Gaia). She has provided us with a bounty of food and medicine for many eons without any demand for reciprocity. The least we can do is “take time and smell the roses”.

-Jordan and Kyla (check out their blog HERE)

Your question: What type of wild herbs grow in your part of the world? (post your comment below)

Canada’s Pressing Problem

Houston we have a problem! You have no rockets, and Canadians have no decent olive oil. That the two are related has only to do with time, as both took the same eons to be accepted by Canadians—while space travel slowly became a normal activity, olive oil crept into public acceptance due to its healthy attributes. Now, seemingly with a snap of the fingers, both are relegated to the garbage heap, no money for space, and no olive oil fit for human consumption available on store shelves. It’s shameful, especially when both had reached an apex, man was headed for mars and Canadians had embraced the wonders of freshly pressed olives.

What happened to the rockets is explained by U.S.politicians as a cost cutting measure, while the absence of a decent, healthy olive oil can only be attributed to the rise of International food conglomerates and their insatiable lust for profits. Unlike other vegetable oils, the ripe olive only needs pressing and bottling to be ready for consumption. Sounds easy, it is; and by employing this ancient process all the important nutrients are conserved: the antioxidants polyphenols and natural vitamin E.

Olive oil reduces cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, and decrease the incidence of some cancers. Canadians know this through fancy marketing campaigns, with supermarkets responding by filling shelves with numerous brands. Problem is, what the Canadian consumer believes is on those shelves is not the reality, as the stuff in those bottles is so loosely related to the real thing, that it may as well be rocket fuel.

In 2007, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency randomly picked 45 brands of bottled olive oil from supermarket shelves for testing and found one-third had been cut with either sunflower or soybean oil. Historically, ripe olives are picked by hand so as not to damage or bruise with picked fruit placed into containers with holes for aeration and mold prevention. Before milling, twigs and stems are removed with the resulting paste pressed into oil usually within 48 hours. Then along came the conglomerates with big ideas to squeeze more profit from the ancient fruit. Shake it down ripe or not, ship in dump trucks and place into huge moldy piles to await processing by a continuous centrifuge that employs hot water to separate every drop. Antioxidant polyphenols are soluble in hot water and are lost during this process, which drastically lowers the shelf life from years to months.

Canada requires the words “virgin olive oil” to mean: that the olive oil is one hundred percent pure olive oil and a free oleic acid level of no more than one percent. No problem for the conglomerates, since all they must do is refine poor quality high acid oil with solvents to bring down acid levels.

While a few reader may remember the great tropical oil scandal of the seventies, wherein soy bean producers concocted a super successful campaign to convince consumers that tropical oils were causing heart disease, that is nothing compared to what European investigators are uncovering about olive oil. It may be the greatest food scandal of the twentieth century, as it appears that almost every conglomerate involved in the processing of olive oil has been cutting their product with highly refined hazelnut oil from Turkey.

Yes, Martha, your favourite brand of olive oil is not only nutritionally wanting, it is probably cut with cheap nut oils that may have something to do with your bouts of wheezing.

Yes, it is against Canadian law, but that apparently is no concern to the conglomerates as Europe has even more stringent consumer laws. When it comes to olive oil, it’s buyer beware in Canada, while those fortunate enough to have relatives in the old country would be wise to cultivate their friendship, as it appears Canadians must look to them for a supply of the “good stuff”.

-A.H. Jackson

Buckwheat Pancakes With Blueberry Grapefruit Sauce

Ask any East Coaster about their homeland and you’ll be bowled over with the enthusiasm of their response. I’m originally from Halifax and whenever Nova Scotia comes up my beau has to pinch me to keep me from monopolizing the conversation. He just doesn’t understand, he’s from Mississauga.

This excitable habit can catch other unsuspecting Canadians by surprise. Once I was flying to Calgary from Halifax and I found myself seated next to a very sweet Calgarian woman. She and I started chatting, when suddenly, out of the blue, she asked, ”By the way, what’s with all the blueberries?” I was beginning to question her sanity when she explained that every souvenir she had come across in Canada’s Ocean Playground had had blueberries plastered all over them. Well, she shouldn’t have gotten me started. I explained that Oxford, Nova Scotia is the wild blueberry capital of Canada and that the blueberries in Nova Scotia are in season from August to September and then I rattled off some other little known facts (little known for a reason) about Nova Scotia until she put her headphones on and pretended to be asleep. I’m telling you, don’t get an East Coaster started we love to talk.

CLICK ON THE RECIPE FOR A PRINTABLE VERSION

With blueberry season less than a month away I decided I couldn’t wait, so I grabbed a couple of pints of blueberries on my way home from work. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any Canadian blueberries and the ones I did get were unnaturally large and a little on the tart side (the price you pay for impatience), so I chose to make a blueberry grapefruit sauce with them instead of eating them fresh. I paired the sauce with 100% buckwheat pancakes and while these blueberries will never be as good as ones back home, this meal was a thing of beauty. Sweet, yet lip-smackingly tart, this blueberry sauce is my new best friend. I’m so happy to report that this recipe leaves you with an ample amount of leftovers. You can eat this sauce on ice cream, tea biscuits or on top of a big bowl of porridge; the possibilities are endless. However, I would recommend waiting until you can get Canadian blueberries. Yes, I know this is a bit of a tease, but when you do come across Canadian blueberries at least you’ll know what to do with them.

CLICK ON THE RECIPE FOR A PRINTABLE VERSION

If you happen to be in the area check out Oxford’s Wild Blueberry Harvest Festival happening August 19th – September 3rd. I promise it’ll be delicious!

A Great Canadian Gordon Tootoosis

When we think about great Canadians, often we neglect to recognize the incredible accomplishments and contributions of Indigenous Canadians in our nation’s history. One such man whose legacy has been immortalized by his craft, is Gordon Tootoosis. He is a well-known film and television actor, who has brought characters of Aboriginal people to the homes of millions worldwide. His noteworthy accomplishments include Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, North of 60, and more recently Blackstone. Often the characters he portrayed, and how he gave them life on screen was different from the “Hollywood Indians” in films prior. He made the depiction of the Indian to be humanized, relatable, and with much less stereotyping and tokenizing. In essence, he developed the representation of First Nations people in mainstream media. This is a kind of activism that is creative and profoundly effective, as relationships between Indigenous peoples and settler communities had been strained from miscommunication and colonial misrepresentation.

Tootoosis is a Cree man from Saskatchewan, born on the Poundmaker reserve in 1941. He and his other siblings attended a residential school that prohibited them all from speaking their Cree tongue and practicing their cultural traditions. His experiences in the schools inspired him to become a Social Worker, specializing his work with children and young offenders. He was successful in reclaiming the traditional dance of his culture and was an active in the powwow circuit. Because of his work, he was awarded the Order of Canada in 2004. He was a strong activist and voice for his people, and will be remembered forever. Gordon Tootoosis passed away July 5, 2011 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Miigwetch Gordon.

Great Canadians Jordan And Kyla

About Jordan and Kyla:

In the spring of 2008, we had begun a journey of both physical and spiritual transformation; one that was so powerful and enlightening that we had such a strong urge to share our experiences with the world. Through our heightened compassion and new found love of life, we were very eager to share our stories with whomever we could. As a result of this compassion and excitement, we decided to create a blog which could assist whoever was interested in reacquainting with their instincts while supercharging their life! It is hard to ignore, that the world is going through some rather profound changes. We are in the midst of experiencing something so exciting that it can change the way we live and think forever! Let us carry-on without fear and look within ourselves for the answers. For we all choose the reality in which to live. Let it be an experience full of love, joy and excitement! Embrace every moment with the utmost interest and compassion. We are here as a community to help and share in each other’s experiences. Let us rise to the occasion!

Jordan Miller

Prior to the Spring of 2008, I was overweight, depressed, and really had no motivation. I was always tired and miserable. At the time I thought this was only normal as I was always looking out to the world for answers to my perpetual “ailments” and hardships. Whatever the reason I thought was causing this downward trend, I knew within myself that something needed to change. I soon realized that we all have a choice in life and those choices dictate our actions and thus the way we feel. By aligning with this ideal and understanding that all humans have the right to exercise their free will, I decided to take charge of my life. Within 9 months, I lost 60 lbs, lowered my resting heart rate from 78 bpm to 54. My blood pressure regularized and I was no longer living in a state of depression. I decided to take charge of my health and well-being through proper diet, exercise and a positive mindset. Since then, I have turned my life around completely. I am grateful to those around me for the continued support, especially to my beautiful wife!

Kyla Paon (Miller)

I am originally from Prince Edward Island, Canada; I moved to Ontario in 2000. When Jord and I first met in 2006, we both had some pretty serious health issues. I had been diagnosed with an under active thyroid in 2001 and had been on medication ever since. It wasn’t until we started to change our choices in life towards better health in 2008, that I felt my symptoms getting better. I was eventually able to completely stop taking medication in 2009 and I now live without symptoms caused by an under active thyroid. Seeing this drastic change within myself has inspired me to help others. I am currently working towards become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. This journey has by far been the most exciting, challenging, happiest, and uplifting time of my life. I learn something new every day and I have so much appreciation for the air we breathe, the earth we live on, the friends we love and the life we live.

We hope that you enjoy this site. Please feel free to contact us or comment on our blogs (www.guidinginstincts.com). We would love to share life and all its amazing synchronicity with you. Much love and peace be with you and yours.

With Love,

Jordan & Kyla

Editor’s Note: Look for Jordan & Kyla articles on The Great Canadian Online Magazine!