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  • Writer's pictureRose BDW

Traditional foods and wellbeing

(above summer elderberry blossom Sambuca spp.)

As summer fades to fall and the temperatures drop, it's time to process and prepare for winter. As COVID still looms and flu season is upon us, a lot of us are taking this time to really asses our health and the health of our communities. Prior to colonization there was a reason why indigenous people were incredibly healthy and answer lies in their habits; daily movement, nutritious and diverse foods, positive sleep patterns, and connection to land, community and self. As winter approaches we can turn to our relationship with land and food to help stay well. Incorporating traditional foods into your diet can improve your overall health and the

Salish have used plant foods as a way to boost immunity, curb illnesses, and soothe sickness. Here are a few examples.

· Immunity: Elderberry has been used for thousands of years to enhance immunity and treat infections. It’s been used as a remedy for colds, coughs, fevers and sore throats. If consumed daily (see pg. 4 for recipe!) in small amounts throughout cold and flu season can protect cell damage due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoids. It also contains amino acids, iron, and B vitamins.

· Vitamin c: we have observed in past newsletters that there’s a few Salish foods that are good for vitamin C.

Rosehips (Rosa spp.) contain incredible amounts of vitamin C and can be eaten raw or the flesh can be made into jelly or dried for tea (MUST remove the seeds they are harmful to the digestive track). Young fir tips are also high in vitamin C but their more mature leaves have trace amounts as well. Dried fir is commonly used for tea in the winter alongside cedar tea.

Soothing: wild mint (Mentha arvensis) has cooling properties because of the compound menthol. Menthol helps to thin mucus and reduce sinus and chest congestion. Mint also has antimicrobial properties for infection. It is delicious dried in a tea or chewed on when fresh. Wild mint will grow in very wet areas; near streams, on riverbeds or lakesides. It is harvestable now.

Recipe: Elderberry Syrup

  • 3 cups of fresh blue elderberries, rinsed with stems removed

  • water to cover

  • 3/4 cups of lemon juice or fresh citrus

  • 1/2 cup of sugar or honey (to taste)

  • optional additions: ginger, rosehip flesh (sans seeds), mint, cinnamon stick

Combine all ingredients in a pot on medium heat. Simmer for 1-3 hours until desired consistency

Let cool. Mash to break down berries and other ingredients.

Strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth.

Eat fresh, freeze, or refrigerate. Keeps fresh for 2 weeks.

Canning is an option for this recipe and the syrup will keep longer!

Add in to teas or take a tablespoon daily.

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