Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Dandelion Leaf

"Benjamin climbed over the wall, into a meadow....It was getting late in the afternoon. Other rabbits were coming out to enjoy the evening air. One of them in a blue coat by himself, was busily hunting for dandelions.--'Cousin Peter! Peter Rabbit, Peter Rabbit!' shouted Benjamin Bunny." (from The Tale of Mr. Tod, by Beatrix Potter, 1912, pub. Frederick Warne)

(HASC presented Hamilton Council with a 900 signature petition and prepared a leaflet - text below -  to support a ban on chemical pesticides - by showing solidarity with the much maligned Dandelion!)


Dandy CanLit quote:

"Few of our colonists are acquainted with the many uses to which this neglected but most valuable plant may be applied. The time will come when this hardy weed, with its golden flowers and curious seed vessels, which form a constant plaything to the little children rolling about and luxuriating among the grass in the month of May, will be transplanted into our gardens, and tended with due care." Susanna Moodie, Roughing it in the bush (1852)

RECIPE: Susanna Moodie's Home-Made Dandelion Root Coffee

"I carefully washed the roots quite clean, without depriving them of the fine brown skin which covers them; and which contains the aromatic flavour. I cut my roots into small pieces, the size of a kidney bean, and roasted them on an iron baking-pan in the stove-oven, until they were brown and crisp as coffee. I then ground and transferred a small cupful of the powder to the coffee-pot, pouring upon it scalding water, and boiling it for a few minutes briskly over the fire. The result was beyond my expectations."(Roughing it in the bush, p. 354)

Dandelion NUTRITION:

Dandelion greens are more nutritious than spinach. The dandelion leaf is rich in many minerals and vitamins. It is best to harvest the greens in spring and early summer before the plant flowers. Whether cooked raw in salads, dandelion greens are bitter (that is the medical part) and taste best prepared with other greens and complimentary ingredients. To ensure the integrity of the nutrition in the Dandelion greens, they should not be ripped or cut until they are to be eaten.

RECIPE: Dandelion Greens (a tasty side dish for fish)

2 bunches dandelion greens

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup onion, finely chopped

2 tsp chopped garlic

salt and freshly ground pepper

t tbsp balsamic vinegar

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil on high heat. Trim stems from greens and discard. Add leaves to pot. Boil until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Heat oil on medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add greens and saute until heated through. Stir in vinegar and season well with salt and pepper.


The Dandelion plant may be used for various medicinal purposes. The leaves are a very powerful diuretic and unlike pharmaceuticals will not rob the body of potassium. The diuretic properties of the dandelion leaf help with the treatment of high blood pressure by reducing the volume of excess fluids. Herbalists endorse dandelion root as one of the most effective detoxifying herbs. The medicinal properties of the root works primarily on the liver and gallbladder to remove wastes and toxins. The root has helped to clear up many eczema like skin problems. The leaf and root may be used to prevent gallstones and may even help to dissolve already formed gallstones. The white milky sap from the stem has been used to treat warts if applied several times daily. It is best to harvest dandelion roots in the fall, before the frost.

RECIPE: Cleansing Tea

2 tsp (10ml) fresh, washed dandelion root gathered in fall and finely chopped

2 tsp (10ml) of nettle leaf (fresh or dried) finely chopped or ground

1/2 tsp (2ml) each of oat straw, fennel seed and corn silk

1 litre boiling water

Pour boiling water over the herbs. Steep in a pot for 20 minutes. Strain the herbs and drink one or two cups as needed.

RECIPE: Dandelion WINE

Make this wine in April and enjoy it for the winter holidays

2 litres of Dandelion flowers

11/2 kilos sugar

4 oranges

4 1/2 litres water

yeast and nutrient (consult wine making store)

Pick the dandelion flowers in sunshine or at mid day so the heads are open. Make the wine immediately after picking the flowers. Measure yellow heads and discard as much green as possible. Boil water. Pour the boiling water over the flowers, steep for two days, no longer. Boil the mixture for 10 minutes with the orange peel (no white pith) and strain through muslin onto sugar stirring to dissolve it. When cool add they yeast nutrient, fruit juice and yeast. Put into fermentation jar and fit air-lock. Siphon off into clean bottles when the wine has cleared.

Warning! Pesticides pose a threat to the health of children.

"The cumulative effects of being exposed to many different pesticides over a lifetime represent an unqualified and unacceptable risk to all Canadian children."

May 25, 2000, Ontario College of Family Physicians and CELA "The Children's Health Project"

"At least 20 epidemiology studies in the peer-reviewed literature document a relationship between exposure to pesticides and increased risk of cancer in children. Children are generally more susceptible to the toxic effects of these chemicals than adults, and current animal tests and regulations do not protect children.

(NRC 1993a, WHO 1986)

dandelion lovers unite against pesticides!

Help Hamilton Council preserve the integrity of the earth by urging them to support a phase-out of the cosmetic use of pesticides; help right the wrongs the Chemical companies have foisted upon their favourite villain: our much beloved and much maligned composite plant of the Asteraceae family, the dandelion.

Dandelion lovers of the world unite!
HAMILTON CITY HALL Lobby, 2nd floor outside council chambers, 12:30 pm, Wednesday, January 9, 2002.
The Ghost of CanLit giant Susanna Moodie (Roughing it in the Bush) will be pouring out warm beverages made from Dandelions prior to hearings on Hamilton's pesticide by-law.
Moodie is offended that the Dandelion, so central to the immigrant experience in Canada, has suffered the indignity of being sprayed with poisonous chemicals and treated as a bad weed.
"Few of our colonists are acquainted with the many uses to which this neglected but most valuable plant may be applied," explains Moodie.

Portrait of Susannie Moodie
During the fall of '35 (that's 1835) Moodie began to discover the many uses of this "neglected but most valuable plant."
  • The leaves used in salads are "quite equal to endive."
  • The leaves when boiled can be used as a substitute for cabbage.
  • The tops can be boiled and the liquor added to hops, fermented and made into beer "equal to the table-beer used at home."
  • Coffee made from the dandelion root "proved excellent-- far superior to the common coffee we procured at the stores."
An excellent source of vitamin A, young leaves can be eaten raw or boiled for 5-10 minutes. Among many other culinary uses, the flowers can be dipped in batter and fried.

- - - - 

Pesticide use put to public
Many support recommendation for city to reduce chemical use.


Special to The Hamilton Spectator


Sheila Brown gambles with her health every time she steps into her back yard.

The Waterdown resident suffers from an environmental illness that her doctor believes is aggravated by chemical sprays used to beautify lawns. Her symptoms, which have worsened since new neighbours began using pesticides, include light-headedness, weak limbs and recurring colds.

"I have to be careful in my own back yard again," Brown told a city council subcommittee yesterday.

She was one of more than 30 speakers who came to City Hall to share their views at a special hearing on pesticide use.

Like many of the others, she applauded a staff recommendation for a continued reduction in the city's use of chemical sprays, but urged council to take the initiative a step further. In order to eliminate the health risks associated with pesticide exposure, Brown said, the city must also restrict the use of chemical sprays used by private landowners.

"We live in a chemical soup" that puts people at unnecessary risk for health problems, she said.

Pesticides, which include chemical herbicides, insecticides, and weed killers, have been linked to numerous health and environmental problems.

Yet some speakers expressed doubt about the health hazards.

University of Guelph toxicologist Len Ritter argued that studies linking pesticide use to certain illnesses, such as cancer, are inconclusive.

Still, Ritter cautioned that because doubt exists, pesticides should always be treated as "potentially dangerous chemicals."

A Supreme Court of Canada ruling last June upheld a bylaw passed by Hudson, Que., prohibiting the use of lawn sprays, and other municipalities have since enacted similar bylaws. So far, Hamilton city council has elected to wait for recommendations from the medical officer of health.

Although yesterday's hearing dealt with nonagricultural pesticide use, farming representatives like Larry Freeman expressed concern about the implications of a possible future ban on pesticides.

Freeman called prohibiting pesticides "impractical and unenforceable."

"It could severely restrict a farmer's ability to keep pests out of their crops," he said.

Council's committee of the whole will review the city's plan to reduce pesticide use sometime this spring.


[caption] Dressed for the part, Evelyna Kay, 6, helped her mom, Beatrice Ekwa-Ekoko, offer dandelion tea during yesterday's public hearing at Hamilton City Hall on the city's plan to reduce pesticide use. Barry Gray, The Hamilton Spectator.