Disordered Eating, the Slow Food Movement and Sourdough Recipes

One of the greatest illusions within the human experience is that we are alone, yet the feeling of seperateness can become overwhelming at times. Even within a large crowd, the certainty of aloneness can feel quite strong. Its darkness creeps through that crowd and into the body. It reassuring us that we are set to live our lives as singular beings, that no one gets us, that we have nothing in common with those around, and any other thoughts that reinstate this greatest illusion as the seemingly greatest truth.

The thing that fascinates me so much about the illusion of aloneness (maiya mala in yogic terminology) is that all around us, there is support. As the air sweeps up against my skin, as I feel the ground beneath my feet, I know I am held. I look into the green grass fields, and there grows an abundance of food and medicine, without having to lift a finger to place it there. Earth’s reminder of our limitless support shows us this truth always. She is ready and willing to nourishing our wild hearts that yearn to break free from the confines of limited thinking (fear, doubt, jealousy etc). The illusion of our seperateness feeds the notion that we are unworthy of fulfilling our great and limitless potential as a creative force of love unconditional, which lies deep inside and all around.

The illusion that we are not enough is deeply rooted in the culture and fuels many angles of the colonialist, industrial complex. This includes the manipulation of crops by chemical and genetic modifications. The idea is that the earth is unintelligent and incapable of supplying what we need, and that we need to buy goods from stores emphasizing production scale agriculture as the only means towards nourishment.

This concept infuses the culture, often in subtle ways. Even seemingly harmless practices of nutritional healing can reinforce the notion that we need more than what our local landscape can provide. I experience this when I come across recipes specifying precious superfoods often derived from far-off lands. Our abundant access to these sacred foods can lead to over-sourcing. I first realized this during travels to Italy in my early 20s. While there, I went to an event through the Slow Food Movement where keynote speakers discussed the issue of exporting Parmigiano Reggiano (translation: from the region of Parma). This sacred food had been in such demand overseas that those native to Parma had little access to this staple food of their region.

One morning recently I sat outside and observed my backyard, freckled with dandelion flowers. I felt compelled to go downstairs to get a closer look, and I became overwhelmed with the of earth medicine that surrounded me. Violet flowers and leaves, garlic mustard and field garlic, wild lettuce and chickweed. I then felt a sweet gust of wind graze my skin, and at that moment I felt overwhelmed by support, just by being conscious, by seeing what actually surrounds me is incredible support to live.

Exploring what it truly means to be a human being means developing practices which evolve our consciousness, and being in relationship to the land becomes crucial as part of that process. Our relationship to nature reflects our relationship to ourselves. When I create a nourishing dish with nutrient dense, locally sourced ingredients, I feel the magic of that food and it deeply nourishes me. I feel connected to source and my body. Those who join me in eating that food quickly shift into the high vibration of gratitude, and we are connected: we are not alone.

It is crucial we are vigilant towards the thoughts which perpetuate ourselves as limited, as not enough, as alone, as lacking what we need. We must protect our bodies and the earth from anything, consciously or unconsciously, that gets in the way of actualizing and celebrating this sacred gift of life. We have everything we need.

It was not until I started relationship with food as medicine that I was able to transcend years within the isolating mental illness of eating disorder. I know I did not heal alone. I healed with the support of the plants that made their way through my fragile body and into my wild woman heart.

Try to eat as local as you can, in integrity with your knowledge of nutrition and nourishing food. Infuse nutritious greens and vegetables in as much of your meal creations as much as possible. And as much sustainably harvested wild edibles you can have on the plate, the better. That said, only eat wild edibles if you are sure how to identify them. If you are unsure, reach out to your local herbalist, who might be offering a plant walk or know of one nearby. It is also wise to have a field guide specific to plants that grow in your region (Botany in a Day is my go-to for the Northeast).

Of course, there are some key thoughts to keep in mind while building a relationship with wildcraft. Here is a quote I read on local wise woman Mandana Vasseghi-Boushee’s blog that says it all.

Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them.
Introduce yourself.  Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life.
Ask permission before taking.  Abide by the answer.
Never take the first.  Never take the last.
Take only what you need.
Take only that which is given.
Never take more than half.  Leave some for others.
Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Use it respectfully.  Never waste what you have taken.
Share.
Give thanks for what you have been given.
Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.
Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever.  -Robin Wall Kimmerer

Some ideas for Spring Edibles to Include on the Table:

Foraged: Field Garlic | Garlic Mustard | Chickweed | Stinging Nettles | Violet Flowers and Leaves | Dandelion Flowers and Leaves | Wild Bergamot Leaves | Clover Leaves |  Ramps | Fiddleheads

Cultivated: Parsley | Chives | Mint | Pea Shoots | Leeks | Fava Beans | Rhubarb | Thyme | Snap Peas

Here are a few spring bread recipe staples I enjoy infusing with wild-crafted edibles. And of course, you can always used lovingly cultivated herbs. Medicine is medicine!

Sourdough Crumpets

A delicious way to use an excess of sourdough starter. I make these often to accompany dinner with herbal butter, or eat a few for breakfast with almond butter and jam.

Ingredients

1 cup sourdough starter

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp sea salt

4 Tbsp milk (raw or homemade nut/seed)

1/4 cup seasonal herbs of choice (foraged: mix field garlic, dandelion and violet flowers and leaves, garlic mustard. cultivated: a mix parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme)

Fat of choice (butter, coconut oil, ghee, bacon grease, lard etc)

Cast Iron Skillet, Wide Lid Rims to Mason Jars

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F. Add all ingredients and mix until smooth. Place a nob of choice fat in the cast iron and heat on stove-top until melted and warmed. Place mason jar lid rims in the cast iron, edge side face down. Pour batter into lids and warm until bubbles cover the surface of the batter.

Place the cast iron in the oven and leave 5-7 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.

Sourdough Cornbread with Herbal Whipped Butter

If I know I am going to attend a potluck a few days beforehand, I’ll set my stride towards this magical bread and butter combination that is sure to please any crowd. Note soaking grains and corn is essential to optimize nutritional value, so plan accordingly whenever you are making breads or grains.

Ingredients

2 cups cornmeal

1/2 cup whole wheat bread flour

1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1 1/2 cup water + 2 tbsp lime juice

1/2 cup yogurt + 1/2 cup water, mixed

3 eggs

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup melted fat of choice (butter, coconut oil, lard or bacon grease are good options)

1/2 cup chopped wild greens of choice (field garlic, gill over the ground and violet leaves is my mix of choice nowadays)

Directions

I usually begin this process the day before an evening potluck. Soak cornmeal in lime water for around 8 hours. Add flours and yogurt water mixture and leave covered with a towel for at least 12 hours and up to 24 in a warm place in your home. After soak time, add remaining ingredients. Bake in a 325F oven for 45 minutes.

Herbal Whipped Butter

3 oz Butter, room temperature (Preferably raw and grass fed. To find raw butter, contact your local Amish farm! Or ask your local farmer where there might be access locally.)

1 oz herbs of choice, minced (My go to mix is mint, lemon balm and thyme)

Directions

Use a blender or food processor to incorporate all ingredients until smooth. Makes 1/2 cup.

Daffodil photos by Julianna Blizzard/ Crumpet Mixing by Lauryn Bellafiore/ Violets and Cornbread by Yours Truly

Elizabeth Gross