According to folk wisdom and modern Anthroposophy, winter is the time that the life forces withdraw into the earth. Just as we go to sleep to rejuvenate our own life forces, plants enter a dormant period in the winter, a time when their life energies are contained within their root systems. Any experienced gardener or orchardist knows not to fertilize their plants in the winter, particularly with nitrogen, as this will prematurely awaken the plant, stimulate premature leaf growth and ultimately weaken the plant.
Although I don’t know any research that suggests that humans’ growth slows in the winter, people, at least traditional people, do withdraw into their homes and, like bears, spend more time hibernating. The foods traditionally eaten during this time were foods that could be stored for the winter. In the plant word, these foods typically are the root vegetables, which, when stored in root cellars, retain their freshness and nutrients for the long, cold winters.
Today we introduce a different way to use these valuable root vegetables during the winter months. Most of us don’t have root cellars anymore, and the root vegetables available in our stores and markets are often grown in far away places that are not exposed to the types of winter most of us are going through. They therefore don’t develop the winter hardiness needed to support our winter rest and rejuvenation.
Our new Root Medley Powder combines three root vegetables that, in many ways, are the quintessential winter root vegetables. Rutabagas, a traditional European, hardy, storage food, are known for their high sulfur content, an important nutrient in detoxification pathways. They’re characterized by a spicy flavor and strong resistance to frost damage. Celeriac is in the parsley family and has been bred to produce large, strongly flavored celery roots. A wonderful addition to winter soups, it is also a traditional European wintertime food. Finally, we added the subtle sweetness of the parsnip, a plant that not only grows in winter but also develops its gentle sweetness when exposed to freezing temperature. Like us, it grows in strength from gentle stress, which it demonstrates by increasing its phytonutrient content after exposure to the first frost. Interestingly, parsnip, another archetypal European root vegetable, contains chemicals that have an aphrodisiac component, possibly directing us to a favorite wintertime activity.
My favorite use of the Root Medley Powder is sprinkled in my morning soup. It adds an earthy flavor with a hint of sweetness and spiciness, and it reminds me of the important connection to the winter season – the season of the roots.
Tom Cowan, M.D.
The other day I was asked what I do most days. My initial response was that I see patients two days a week and go to the garden two days a week. The obvious follow-up question was, what about the other three days? After giving it some thought, my answer was, I go for a walk on the beach twice a week, but mostly I process food. That is especially true this time of year.
Our Powders Easily Add Nutrients to Soups and Stews
My good friend and co-author Sally Fallon Morell used to say that her rule with her four children was that they had to eat the breakfast and dinner she served them, and then they were free to eat what they wanted during the day. She was banking on them getting enough nutrient-dense foods during those two meals to keep them well nourished and even well fed enough so that they wouldn’t be looking for junk food.
We’re Looking for Growers!
This past weekend we hosted a small group of people who are interested in working with our company to help us create new products. We toured the Napa garden and spoke about new and innovative approaches to using plants as medicinal food. I had many ideas and examples of plants for them to see, feel and even taste, but I focused on five that I am particularly excited about and that will help us fulfill the dictum “let thy food be thy medicine.”