April 26, 2012 @ 12:00 AM


   I am often asked how to get kids to take herbs...or how to cook with herbs and weeds so the family will try it. My first joking comment is to not mention anything until after thay have tasted something!! Really, though, all you need to do is make it fun. Too often, we are too serious/judgemental/sanctimonious when it comes to health issues and foods. It turns skeptics off immediately and makes those who are willing to investigate just a little less enthused.

  Begin where people are--curious. For kids, play plant/flower games with them. For adults, make ice creams, jellies, beer, pies and cakes--keep it light and they will think it's pretty cool....and then more questions and before you know it, they may actually listen and follow through on a remedy suggestion or a weed salad recipe. A lot of people enter into the herb world through potpourris or wreath making. Why not offer a tea using some of the herbs used in those projects? Kids like stories and there are so many bits of lore and myths that make plants come alive in their minds. Sometimes, people are more willing to experiment with their pets, so offering a catnip pouch, herbal dog biscuits, rosemary ear mite oil or a nettle and brewer's yeast food supplement may help them make the leap to personal use.

I have served many a pizza laden with chopped dandelions and nettles to unsuspecting guests and students--only to have them rave and ask for recipes once they found out. THEN, I casually mention the nutritional benefits.

My best advice is to go slow, chop herbs fine, start with some medicinal popsicles, don't go into long discourses about the superiority of herbs VS pharmaceuticals, don't take it personally when family/friends doubt your knowledge--that is normal. They need to experience it for themselves. All you need to do is provide the opportunities for them do so safely.  Before long, they will be asking you "When is it time to go pick the fiddleheads?" or "Do you have any more of that Elderberry Fizz?" or maybe "How about another slice of that strawberry/knotweed pie?" http://www.yankeemagazine.com/recipe/for/strawberry-knotweed-pie/2531  or the priceless... "Grandma, can I have another cup of chamomile tea? My bear is sick".