Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em

To my neighbors, my weed-infested backyard may look like an eyesore. But to savvy suburban food pioneers, my dandelions look like an alfresco diner.


Edible dandelions transcend the battle between processed and organic food. They are nutrition as close as a weeder.

Dandelions may be a menace to your lawn, but they are a tonic for your over-exercised liver and a source of natural insulin that can help balance blood sugar.

For the more adventurous, dandelion roots can be dried, roasted and ground into a coffee substitute. And the pesky yellow flowers can be used to make delicious dandelion wine.

I admit I’m not a convert yet to looking out the backdoor and declaring my weed patch is a vegetable garden. But, according to Mother Earth News, “Served raw in a salad, dandelion greens pack a nutritional punch,” which would be a different kind of reward for a back-breaking morning of plucking them up.

Every morning I get my antioxidants by generously topping  bowl of oatmeal with blueberries and raspberries. Now I learn I could crumble up dandelion leaves, instead of mowing them up, and fortify my body with antioxidants, potassium and vitamins A and C.

Roger Doiron, writing for Mother Earth News, says wild dandelions hail from Europe and Asia and through history and cultures have been treasured as a source of ready nutrition. Only with the advent of suburban America has the “scraggly plant, thumbing its sunny yellow nose” morphed into a social pariah and Public Enemy No. 1 of the pesticide industry.

Doiron confesses he didn’t start nibbling dandelion roots until he visited his Belgian mother-in-law who grew up in the foothills of the Ardennes. During World War II, when food was scarce, she learned to live off the land, gladly accepting the bounty of free mushrooms, berries and weeds. Now she cooks with them by choice.

Dandelion3There is a prime dandelion gathering season., even though it seems like they sprout all year long in my yard. Doiron describes how he indulges his wild side in April and May to pull up the tenderest dandelion greens, which he might use in a succulent Dandelion Salad with Fresh Goat Cheese and Apples (recipe included in his article).

Lest you think edible dandelions are the eccentricity of the few, farmer-owned Organic Valley offers up recipes for dandelion soup and omelets. It also touts that strange sounding varietal, dandelion wine, describing it as “sweet and flowery.”

So, if your best efforts to eradicate your yard of dandelions without resorting to weed killers, then you can follow this sound, quirky advice: “If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em.”

Just don’t leave any dandelion leaves on the kitchen counter.


2 comments on “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em

  1. Pingback: Dandelion Bacon Salad | gluadys' cookbooks

  2. Pingback: What Your Liver, Uric Acid and the Dandelion have in Common | Eat and Be Healthy

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