Foraging for Meaning

by Adam Lush (the other half of Arete Herbs)


Our brains are wired to seek.

When we actively pursue a goal or set out to explore, our brains are wired to release dopamine to reward our behavior. On a deep emotional level, we are built to seek. 

The neurochemical system makes us feel good when we are seeking. This emotional drive gives us a feeling of excitement when we set out into unexplored territory.
 

"Many men go fishing their entire lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."
~Henry David Thoreau~


The seeking system is key to our survival, whether we are seeking food, intimate relationships, or even knowledge.

It drives us out into the unknown, the unfamiliar, and unexplored. It encourages us to overcome our fears of leaving the comfort of certainty and the familiar. It allows us to discover all of the things that we ultimately come to revere.  
 

"Our current safe boundaries were once unknown frontiers."
~Anonymous~

 

We are foragers at the core. We are built for discovery and seeking expands our world. 

In recent years, Lauren and I have begun learning the art of foraging for wild plants.

Are we seeking plants? Information? Or an entirely new perspective?

As my knowledge grows, the world changes. 

The forest has taken on new life.

Now, an unassuming pile of leaves could be a treasure chest, housing an elusive Morel mushroom (this mushroom is quite the delicacy).

I now step more carefully on untrodden paths and find my gaze fixated on the forest floor. 

Across the path, there is a sea of green covering the ground. First appearing as just another green plant quietly blending in with the rest of the forest, the newly sprouted ramps (a delicious wild leek) begin to stand out from the undergrowth. 

Trees take on different individual personalities. I see the variation in bark and the beautiful diversity that must have taken so many years to develop. 

I can picture their roots, intertwined under the soil, nourishing and being nourished by the mushrooms growing among them. 

Everything is connected. A mosaic of natural beauty, infinitely complex, calls me to explore.

I dive into books, once a dusty stack of pages, now a fountain of collected knowledge from thousands of years of human experience. 

As I study, my sight becomes more refined. 

Rather than being satisfied, my drive to seek grows more intense. I'm invigorated and I find myself wanting more. 

Who knew such a simple concept as learning about and finding wild plants could hold such incredibly profound experiences?

My drive to seek connects me with nature, the unknown, and the world of infinite possibilities that I have only scratched the surface of.

The seeking makes me feel alive. Maybe, the seeking is living expressed in one of its most fundamental forms.

Who am I but an explorer? Questing out to find meaning, understanding, and above all--myself. 

After all, what do I see when I look into the forest but my own understanding reflecting back off of the unknown. 

If my sight is dulled by certainty, I pause, stare deeply and contemplate the miracle of a single leaf. How long and perfect was the dance of life and matter that brought it to this place?
 

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour."
~William Blake~

 


Where will your seeking take you? Keep the conversation going by leaving a comment below!
 



Foraging + Wild Foods Book Recommendations:

If you’re eager to deepen your knowledge on foraging and wild foods, here’s a great place to start:

  1. The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer is the best foraging book that I have come across. I love this guide because it focuses on 32 different wild, edible foods with a detailed chapter on each one. The author tells personal stories of each plant which help you to retain and relate to the information. This is unlike most guides which include hundreds of plants with small /limited images and only a paragraph write-up that doesn’t give the plants’ full story. 
     
  2. Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi might be the one for you if you love beautiful plant illustrations and one-page easy to read write ups with recipes.
     
  3. The New Wildcrafted Cuisine: Exploring the Exotic Gastronomy of Local Terroir by Pascal Baudar is the third book that I recommend. This cookbook takes wild foraging to a gourmet level of creativity. Includes detailed recipes for ferments, infusions, wild beers and sodas, vinegar, and so much more!

We're Hiring!

With the farmer's market season kicking off, we're looking to hire a commission-based position to vend at the local markets in the area. Currently, we vend at the East Goshen Farmer’s Market every Thursday and the Kennett Square Farmer’s Market every Friday. You’d have to be in drivable distance from our studio space located in the heart of Unionville Village. There is also the opportunity to vend at special events. We vend at the Philly Farm & Food Fest, all Terrain’s festivals, URBN markets, Clover Markets, & many more! We’re looking to mainly fill the vending position, but there is also potential to help with production in the apothecary studio. We're searching for a fellow herbal enthusiast who gets us.

We are looking for someone who:

  • has an interest and/or a background in plants and herbal medicine
  • has great communication skills
  • is outgoing & great with people
  • enjoys a lot of interaction
  • previous sales experience is a plus, but not required
  • has a larger vehicle to transport booth materials (SUV, Crossover, etc. But we actually had a Prius that fit everything too!)
  • is reliable
  • likes to have fun!

If it sounds like you might be a good fit, please contact us at Lauren@areteherbs.com with a resume and tell us a bit about yourself! Emails only please! Please spread the word!

Lauren vending at the Kennett Square Farmer's Market!

Lauren vending at the Kennett Square Farmer's Market!

Bitters Spritzer Recipe

I can't stop talking about our Cardamom & Fennel Digestive Bitters! Their health benefits are endless AND they are delicious! We have been sampling them in spritzer form at the local farmers’ markets as well as our latest adventure to Urban Outfitters’ Head Quarters (see pic below)!

URBN Market

URBN Market

Our Cardamom & Fennel Digestive Bitters are a great way to rev-up your digestive system! The bitter flavor helps to prime our digestion and let’s face it—our gut health is tied to everything! This flavor is very important to make sure our digestive system stays toned and active! Unfortunately, the American diet lacks the bitter flavor which denies our gut of what it needs to be happy & healthy! Here is a list of ways bitters work their magic~
 
Benefits: 

•    Improves overall digestion
•    Relieves symptoms of over indulgence (including hangovers!)
•    Promotes glowing skin
•    Boosts digestive enzyme secretion & HCL (Hydrochloric Acid) production
•    Eases upset stomach, gas, & bloating
•    Eases heartburn, acid re-flux, & indigestion
•    Stimulates a gentle, daily, liver detox!

Phew! That is one tonic everyone could use! Now on to the fun, summer recipe that I'm sure you'll enjoy:

BITTERS SPRITZER RECIPE

Ingredients:

•    Arete’s Cardamom & Fennel Digestive Bitters
•    Tonic Water or Seltzer Water (or a combo!)
•    Ice cubes

Directions:

That’s it! 3 simple ingredients. Pour Tonic Water, Seltzer Water or a combination of the two into a glass or pitcher. Add a few droppers full of the Cardamom & Fennel Digestive Bitters to taste. If you’re feeling a little bit wild, you can add a splash of your favorite alcohol! 

Cheers!

Cardamom & Fennel Digestive Bitters

Cardamom & Fennel Digestive Bitters

Improve your Sleep, Naturally!

At Arete, we believe that our health is deeply connected to nature and to achieve optimal wellness it is vital for us to embrace a more natural, Earth-centered approach to living fuller, healthier lives.  Plant medicine is a beautiful way to empower you on this journey.

The featured product of the month is Sleep Tea, but before explaining the benefits of this restful brew, I would like to go over some sleep hygiene tips that you can incorporate into your daily life to promote healthier sleep patterns, naturally. 
 

Proper Sleep Hygiene Tips:

  • Sleep in complete darkness. Get black-out curtains; cover any light sources in the room like digital clocks, plugs, etc. Block out any street lights. Our bodies can only produce melatonin when there is complete darkness. This is essential for deep, rejuvenating sleep. 
  • Turn off all electronics one hour before bedtime; this includes TV, iPad, Kindle, computer, etc. These are considered to be blue light and are stimulating to our brains which will trick our bodies into thinking that it is day time. Light candles instead of having the lights on prior to bed-time. This gives off a different type of light. 
  • Reduce/eliminate surrounding noise. Ear plugs and eye masks may be useful.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine especially in the afternoon to evening time. Caffeine/nicotine forces our adrenals to produce more cortisol which is stressful to our bodies.
  • Avoid too many liquids close to bedtime to reduce trips to the bathroom in the night.
  • Avoid napping longer than one hour or after four pm.
  • Incorporate rest and relaxation into your daily life, some examples include meditation, deep breathing, listening to soothing music, warm baths, yoga, nature walks, prayer, joy, mindfulness, etc. Reducing stress and cortisol levels will greatly benefit sleep patterns.  If cortisol is always at a steady high, then there will be insomnia issues. 

General Lifestyle Tips:

  • Around eight hours of sleep is required for humans.  A lack of sleep can drive a person insane and reduce your overall health because many other issues will splinter off from this one area.  
  • Eat at regular meal times
  • Exercise will help you sleep better at night. Work out early in the day if you can. Exercises that reduce cortisol/stress levels are gentle yoga and tai chi-- Not power yoga!
  • Try to wake up when the sun does.
  • Create routine in your day. Wake up around the same time and go to bed around the same time every night. 
  • Go to bed around 10 pm. 10pm – 2 am is a deeper, more rejuvenating, non-REM sleep; 2 am – 7 am is strictly a REM and dreaming state of sleep. If you go to bed at midnight or later, you will miss out on the deeper, restful sleep. This is tied to the environment and our circadian rhythms.

I hope that these helpful hints provide you with some tools for healthier sleep habits. In addition to the above lifestyle recommendations, a sleep enhancing herbal tea can be extremely beneficial to those who need a little extra help to wind down at night.  We have just the thing for you! Check out the featured product below.

from 15.00

Caffeine Free Herbal Tea (Loose Leaf)

This minty blend of tranquilizing herbs will promote a healthy sleep cycle by calming tension, helping the mind unwind, and increasing deep relaxation. These herbs have been used to relieve insomnia, restlessness, irritability, tenseness, and nervousness. The overall result is an improved depth and quality of sleep, with fewer wakings and refreshed mornings.*

Suggested Use: 1 tsp of herb to each cup of water (8 oz.). Place herbs in a heat proof vessel and pour boiling water over herbs. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes or more for maximum benefit. Strain & enjoy! Drink 1-3 cups before bedtime. For a stronger effect, use 2 tsp of herb to each cup of water.

Ingredients: Org. Chamomile, Org. Linden, Org. Spearmint, Org. Passion Flower, Org. Skullcap, Org. California Poppy, Org. Valerian, Org. Hops

Options:
Bag ($15, tea weight: 2 oz, 50 servings)
Tin ($20, tea weight: 3.1 oz, 77 servings)