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Do We Need A Weed Perception Shift?

Weeds are incredibly misunderstood plants. In fact, many of them act as beneficial medicines, but we remain blind to their potential. In my opinion, we need to look at weeds differently. 

When did you first come to realize that weeds were a bad thing? Personally, I grew up on Lake of the Woods, in the wild, where everything grew normally and was never destroyed. There were dandelions, thistles, and pretty much any kind of “weed” you could ever imagine. My parents never killed the weeds, because there was no need. They were living and thriving along everything else in a perfect, yet delicate balance. 

I believe that weeds are only considered “bad” because of how humans interact with them, and how our society has taught us to believe that lawns must be 100% clear of all yellow flowers. But do people understand that grass is also a weed? Why is the presence of a beautiful yellow flower something to be frowned upon? If dandelions aren’t harming your garden, why not let them grow on other places of your lawn?

Nature uses “weeds” (as we call them), to protect the soil when it is bare, helping prevent erosion from wind and rain. Weeds, like comfrey and wild amaranth, have deep-tapping roots that mine minerals from far beneath the soil surface, making them available for other plants whose roots don’t reach as far. These deep-tapping roots also help break up more dense soil, which allows room for less powerful roots like those from cucumber plants and lettuces.

Weeds also encourage biodiversity. Lawns are one of the worst monocultures out there. Our constant war on weeds not only puts us at harm, but it severely messes with the ecosystem. Weeds create diverse plant life, a necessity for sustainable ecosystems. Weeds are also wonderful attractors of beneficial insects like bees and butterflies. If everyone had a lawn full of native plants, flowers and “weeds”, pollinator numbers would sky-rocket. 

Many weeds are also delicious edibles! Dandelion roots are a powerful cancer-killer when brewed into a tea (elixir), and the leaves and flowers of dandelion help detox the liver. Lambsquarter are delicious in salads, and grow abundantly and come back every year. Purslane is a great plant-based source of Omega-3 fatty acids, and red clover helps balance female hormones, effectively dealing with symptoms of menopause and PMS. 

You see, weeds are not our enemy – they’re our friend. Learning to work with them, instead of against them, will be a key concept in the coming years as we start to fully realize that our health, and the health of the planet, can simply no longer sustain chronic chemical exposure.

~ Carley Fraser  #LiveLoveFruit

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