Are Weeds the New Health Plants?

So the other day I was reading something, somewhere (I cannot remember) that mentioned lambs quarter and all its health benefits. The article also mentioned the wonderful taste and how it is related to spinach. BACK the TRUCK UP! Lambs Quarter?? The same nasty weed I am constantly pulling out of our garden? Apparently,  yes.

Lambs quarter is  evidently high in vitamin A, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus and is also a good source of protein, trace minerals, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C,  iron, and fiber. Well, doesn’t that just cure about everything. When I tried some  (I picked off a leaf on a plant next to a calf hutch, while I waited for them to finish a bottle), it actually was good tasting. I told Tim this and he joked “This is probably why our cows are so healthy.”

But then I got to thinking, this is exactly why our cows are so healthy. While I am no animal nutritionist or agronomist, I do understand that diverse diets are key to health. On our farm, we feed our cows in a what is known as an “intense grazing” system. Every 12 hours we give them about 1 acre/100 cows of pasture to eat. This system forces them to eat everything and not pick and choose what they think is the “best.” Compare it to a parent requiring their child to try everything on the child’s plate before they are given desert. We plant a mixture of clover and grasses in our pastures and of course a few weeds like lambs quarter are guaranteed to thrive too. Cows do find most weeds very palatable (except for thistle). Notice in the picture below that one side of the fence (right) is where the cows have been and the left side is where they are going.

I did a quick search of lambs quarter on Google and found that you can actually buy seeds for the stuff. Hah! Also, you can buy Yellow Dock Root (i.e. Curly Dock) oil for $12.oo (plus $5,99 s&h) and you get 2 ounces. Yep, another weed. How about 1lbs of organic dandelion leaves for $29.88. Or here is a good one: Buckthorn oil (a MN noxious weed mind you) for $20/3.4 oz.

Do you think Zweber Farms should get into the business of selling weeds, I mean organic medicinal plants? What do you think? Would you buy? We have plenty to share with you. We can sell it with our local, organic tap water (sorry, inside joke). What I think is funny, is that the same people buying these over priced weeds are probably buying Round-up to kill the the same plants in their own yards. Ironic, isn’t it?

Bio-diversity is something we pride ourselves on at our farm. Instead of fighting the “weeds”, we work with them. Using them as ground cover and supplemental pasture growth. When we work with plants, those that were considered weeds ( a plant out of place), now become a part of a thriving and sustainable ecosystem. Now if we could only get lawn owners to think that way too; maybe urban pesticide use would not be so out of hand.

Emily

Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy.  We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, www.zweberfarms.com

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