Food wisdom – why waste the papaya seeds. Credit: Rota
It amazes me how few people know much about the common plants in our gardens. There are edible plants that are considered weeds, and many parts of recognised vegetable crops that somehow aren’t widely known to be edible. These include amazingly versatile plants like nasturtium (whose leaves, flowers and seed pods can be eaten), incidental foods like papaya seeds or celery leaves, ramblers in our gardens like pumpkin plants whose young stalks and leaves can be eaten, and radishes whose leaves and seed pods can be consumed too.
It bothers me that we think we live in such abundance that not only do we not utilize these food sources, we don’t even recognise them as foods. This seems wrong. We go to the supermarkets as if they were the aisles of a garden. Instead of bean trellises and rows of carrots and corn, we have the frozen food aisles. This new age ‘vegetable garden’ robs us of many experiences that you would have if you had to rely on an actual garden for all your needs. The connection to nature, the insects and animals that are attracted to the plants and an understanding of the various plants themselves – as well as keeping alive and practical the knowledge of growing and using each of the plants in their entirety.
Must we gain one thing just to lose another? The convenience of frozen and packaged food is not a good enough excuse to let our food wisdom go. It is irresponsible to allow ourselves to forget what we have learnt about using our food, just because technology gives us the luxury to do so.