Saturday, November 8, 2014

Plants: Protection and Practice

Plants: Protection and Practice

            Last week we traveled to the Coto Brus communities of San Vito and Agua Buena. While there we asked inhabitants the question: "Can you please list any wild edible plants that people around here eat?" There was a wide range of answers; some could not list any, while others had over twenty responses. I recognized some of them like lechuga (lettuce) but others were completely unknown to me (like flor de itabo). This experience led me to reflect on my own experience with plants and how helpful this knowledge may actually be for different individuals and communities.
            I have always been surrounded by home grown gardens, in which fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers have grown. I myself have looked after carrots, courgettes, basil, strawberries, raspberries, and much more. My mother has taught me how to identify weeds from wild plants that are harmless to the growth of the produce. Whenever we go on walks, whether it is in America or around the world, my mum is always eager to show me and my siblings the plants that she knows and what their usages are. As a younger child I ignored her, thinking that she was strange and this information could not possibly be helpful. However, when I was a sophomore in high school I began to have issues with my weight and my doctor put me on a diet. I began to use these plants more much than I had before, and solely with the help of my dietary habit changes (no increase in exercise whatsoever) I have since lost around 35 pounds.
            Today, I am extremely conscious of the incredible impact fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs, and other edible plants can have on an individual's nutrition. I am not sure if I would have been able to become as healthy as I am now if I had not had access to all these products. I recognize that this is a luxury many people do not have, whether it be restrictions such as economic, space (i.e. not having a garden), or time.
            Although the study we did in Coto Brus concerned wild edible plants (rather than cultivated), it further confirmed for me my love and appreciation for healthy and sustainable alternatives. I hope that through my own passion I can introduce these possibilities to friends and family, both present and future. Perhaps I can impact a few individuals and save them from the difficulties I had to go through at such a young age.
            I realize, however, that it is rare for the young to have an interest in these subjects. Our conclusions from the Coto Brus study showed that there was a significant positive relationship between age and knowledge. The older the respondent was, the more likely they were to have more wild edible plants to list. This is backed up by data which says that younger generations are less interested, whether it be to lack of need or the stigma of poverty (Perese, 2013).
            Nevertheless, I hope that through education and enthusiasm we can as a world demonstrate the effectiveness of wild edible plants and agricultural edible plants to fight issues such as obesity, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and much more.

Works Cited
Perese, Eris F. "Stigma, Poverty, and Victimization: Roadblocks to Recovery for Individuals
With Severe Mental Illness." Stigma, Poverty, and Victimization: Roadblocks to Recovery for Individuals With Severe Mental Illness. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Assocation, 2013. Web. 07 Oct. 2014. <>.

Heidi Boland

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