Thanks to the mega-knowledgeable Darren Springer for a brilliant mushroom growing workshop at Psychedelic Society. As well as learning how to grow our own mushrooms, we heard about different cultural uses and significance of mushrooms globally. I don't know if I'll be taking up mushroom growing any time soon, but it definitely connects with my love of all things fermented from composting to making raw vinegars. Spotted this the next day - not edible, but isn't nature just incredible?
I had an amazing time at Growing Underground, the urban farm located in disused air-raid shelters under Clapham Common in London. They grow micro-salads below ground, without soil, under pink light, and ship to restaurants and markets across the country. It was a totally science-fiction experience. Definitely pointing to the future of urban food growing in places like London where the cost of land is at a premium. Mind-blowing.
A massive thank you to Radical Herbalism Collective for their gathering in London last weekend.
My mind has been well and truly expanded!
It was an excellent day, with talks that really chimed with my thinking about who has access to herbalism in our urban communities, but also made me think about herbalism in new ways. I met some totally inspiring people.
Herbalists Without Borders (UK), offer free herbal care to vulnerable people, including refugees and homeless people. They are always looking for people to get involved their work (herb growing, donations, volunteering, etc), so get in contact.
We made a tea and tincture with Herbalista who operate in the USA and Ireland. The medicines created were given to Hackney Migrant Centre.
Also, insightful discussions on the politics of herbalism in relation to issues such as class, race, gender and globalization. (Plus free cake!) I'm still absorbing all the information and generosity.
There will be more gatherings this year in Manchester and Bristol, I would totally recommend going.
There's a lot of fermentation going on in this photo. Ethiopian injera (fermented teff flatbread) and tej (honey wine) I recently shared with my friend Ceri in south London. We also swapped homemade ferments (ginger beer and beetroot sauerkraut vs. kefir grains and date vinegar). A great evening spent discussing the anarchic nature of wild fermentation, our successes and disasters, and next projects.
So, I've been thinking about sour flavours. Goodness makes and sells sweet foods like raw chocolate and coconut jam, which are always popular. But it's the sour-tasting fermented products we've made like coconut jelly, kefir and fruit vinegars that really fascinate me. To me, they provide a nice balance to the sweet flavours. I started making date vinegar as a way of enjoying the benefits of dates (high in vitamins and minerals, anti-inflammatory properties, etc.) without the sugar. Sour flavours also trigger salivation and stimulate the appetite helping us digest food.
I'm enjoying the different kinds of sour in fermented foods - from Ghanaian banku (fermented cassava or corn dough) to Ethiopian/Eritrean injera. I love that every culture (excuse the pun!) has it's own fermented sour flavours. I've got more work to do encouraging people to try some of the sour flavours and explaining their benefits.
*Photo: Ceri Buckmaster
I'm Virginia and I run Goodness. I'm slightly obsessed with raw cacao and the medicinal properties of food, which runs in the blood (there are herbalists, nurses and farmers in my family). I'll be posting about chocolate, healing foods, thoughts, recipes and experiments.