Our environment is always being challenged, especially our urban environment, and over time I have shared with you several campaigns that have been organised by The East London Garden Society.
Although I have spoken of such issues before, it is now becoming even more important that all of us take a part in protecting our environment, because once lost, it could be lost forever.
Where we have been involved and achieved change, shows that there can be harmony between humanity and nature.
If you value having someone campaign on your behalf to protect the environment and having access to useful articles about gardening and local environmental matters, please make a donation to help us with the cost of maintaining The East London Garden Society.
Foraging has been part of our own food processes for centuries, and knowing what to collect, and what is edible, is knowing where our food originated.
Becoming familiar with foraging therefore means learning to recognise a resource in the environment that can be used, but also doing it with total respect. What do we need more in the present day than this, in terms of creating more sustainable development?
Love for the forest and its flavours opened the door to a world in which exploration, anthropology, cultural identity, geography, botany, protection of the environment, gastronomy and science all converge into a whole that is rational, necessary, thrilling and extremely relevant.
When we experiment with the use and conservation of the wild food available on the planet, we are communicating our very vision, our very intention to protect the environment.
In truth, foraging is an inclination that has always been present in humans and animals. Man is born to gather food, and we remained this way until only a little over a century ago.
Today, the term identifies the activity of going to gather plants, or parts of them, molluscs from water or land, and insects suitable for human nutrition, in the most uncontaminated natural areas possible. When foraging was a common activity, knowledge about gathering was considered alimurgy, a real science that studied the possibilities for eating wild foods in periods of famine, poverty, by choice or through necessity.
Until the end of the 1800s, the diet of the middle and lower classes was in large part made up of wild food. Wild ingredients, therefore, are an extremely important part of our cultural identity.
Restoring these techniques, continuing the cataloguing of ingredients from the wild and going beyond those already used in our traditions, and analysing them again from a nutritional perspective, is a very contemporary choice to restore our identity and tradition.
It is a vehicle for current concepts such as food sustainability, cooperation, and protection of the environment
The East London Garden Society was formed in September 2011 when a group of five people came together to discuss gardening topics. Originally, we were concerned with creating better gardens, and seeking ways of how we could improve our gardening skills.
We now have influence with regard to our local environment, persuading others to create better gardens, lessening the worst effects of pollution and toxic air quality, and utilising our gardens to improve our lives.
The following are some of the issues in which we’ve been involved:
Samphire is becoming a part of our diet more and more.
The name samphire comes from the French name for the plant, Herbe de Saint Pierre which was named after the patron saint of fishermen St Peter because the original plants grow in rocky salt-sprayed regions along the sea coast of northern Europe or in its coastal marsh lands.
Marsh samphire ashes were used to make soap and glass (hence its other old English name, glasswort) as it was a source of sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash. In the 14th century glassmakers located their workshops near regions where this plant grew, since it was so closely linked to their trade.
Many types of samphire are edible. In England the leaves were gathered early in the year and pickled or eaten in salads with oil and vinegar. Marsh samphire, (salicornia bigelovii) was investigated as a potential biodiesel source that can be grown in coastal areas where conventional crops cannot be grown.
Rock samphire is another kind of samphire, also called sea fennel. It is mentioned by Shakespeare in King Lear.
Beets have been shown to fight inflammation, lower blood pressure and aid detoxification.
Studies also suggest they can help lower your risk for heart failure and stroke, and provide powerful benefits for your brain, largely due to their high nitrate content.
Your body transforms nitrates into nitric oxide, which enhances oxygenation and has beneficial impacts on your circulatory and immune systems.
Research has now shown that beets may also be a powerful ally in the fight against Alzheimer's disease, the most severe and lethal form of dementia. As reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
They first examined the possible cause of the condition. Although it's unknown, doctors have previously pinpointed beta-amyloid, a sticky protein that can disrupt communication between the brain cells and neurons. When it clings to metals, such as copper or iron, the beta-amyloid peptides misfold and clump together, causing inflammation and oxidation.
Therefore, the scientists targeted foods known to improve oxygen flow and cognitive functions, including beets. The purple veggie has a compound called betanin that binds to metals, which could prevent the misfold of the peptides.
To test their hypothesis, the scientists measured oxidation levels of the beta-amyloid when it was mixed with a betanin mixture, and they found that oxidation decreased by up to 90% exposed to the beet compound.
Although there are two types of samphire, marsh and rock, only marsh samphire is widely available fresh. Rock samphire has an unpleasant smell when it's fresh, and was traditionally pickled to get rid of this. Marsh samphire is a succulent halophyte (a plant that grows in salt water), with vibrant green fleshy stalks and finger-like leaves. It has a distinctively crisp and salty flavour.
Buy samphire as you need it, because it doesn't keep for long. Wrap it tightly, and refrigerate for not longer than a few days if bought loose. It’s at the height of its season from May to August. Find it on fish counters in supermarkets and at fish shops.
Samphire can be used raw in salad if it's rinsed well, but because it tends to be very salty, it's more often cooked, either briefly fried in butter, for a couple of minutes in simmering water, or in a steamer for a few minutes. Whatever you do, don’t add any more salt to the water.
Samphire has such a distinctive texture and taste that it doesn’t need any more flavours added to it. Instead, think of it as a flavour to add to dishes. As well as accompanying fish and seafood, it goes well with lamb and in citrusy salads. You can also use it as an interesting drinks garnish for a gin and tonic.