Plants’ Life Energies Withdraw Into Their Roots in Winter
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.
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