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Green Is Good

For plant expert Michael Ball, nature is both a pantry and a medicine cabinet

Passionflower 
According to Ball, tea made from these leaves can help combat anxiousness or trouble sleeping, since it is said to lower “mental chatter.”

Passionflower According to Ball, tea made from these leaves can help combat anxiousness or trouble sleeping, since it is said to lower “mental chatter.”

If you watched TV in the 1970s, you’ll likely remember the name Euell Gibbons. An outdoorsman who promoted eating wild foods, Gibbons rose to national fame with his surprise bestseller, “Stalking the Wild Asparagus.” Soon he was appearing on talk shows and pitching Grape-Nuts cereal. In one commercial, he asked, “Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible.” 

What was his appeal? This excerpt from Gibbons’ “Asparagus” book gets at the heart of it: “We live in a vastly complex society which has been able to provide us with a multitude of material things, and this is good, but ... don’t we sometimes feel that we are living a secondhand sort of existence, and that we are in danger of losing all contact with the origins of life and the nature which nourishes it?” 

A quick trip to the grocery store for a bag of nuts or a pint of berries has replaced a walk into the wild to forage for those same foods. It’s convenient and, let’s face it, necessary given our busy lifestyles, but maybe not as satisfying as some of us would like. Nature has been put at a distance, enjoyed in small doses outside the day-to-day demands of our civilized world. 

That was the reality for many people already back in Gibbons’ day. And it still is for many today. Perhaps the disconnect has even increased. In our era of online technology and the constant monitoring of cellphones for text messages, emails and the latest news and tweets, many people feel even more out of touch with nature.