It is true that I am very comfortable in the sea and that I spend a lot of my time doing the mermaid thing. However, I also happen to really enjoy trading in my tail for legs and foraging my neighborhood, especially during rainy season. That’s right, I said foraging, and I mean exactly that. I am the crazy lady who walks around the hood collecting wild berries, fungus, leaves, flowers and such to bring home to eat and or make medicine from. To make it even more crazy I make candles to keep away bugs and balance the energy of my space. I know it seems like such a leap from spending my time educating guest on ecology and playing with all the marine critters, but I assure you it all goes together.
This week my 9-year-old helped me forage for Muscadine ( Vitis rotundifolia), a delicious native Florida Grape that not only makes a fantastic jam but also wine. I will be honest and tell you we made neither this week, he ate way more than I thought he would as we picked them, especially since the first one he ate of the night was very sour. What we did have enough grapes to make was a sort of a jam from the left-over from making juice. They are a very bitter grape, but they are also the potent grape! So we just added lots of honey and stevia.
Now I could go into a whole APA style paper with all the scientific research behind Muscadine, citing references but the cool thing about me doing a blog is if I don’t feel like getting all scholarly I don’t gotta. Besides most people don’t want to read ten pages of meta-analysis, so here are just a few nutritional facts and some health benefits that we currently associate with muscadine.
~ They have a diverse amount of polyphenol antioxidants, like resveratrol, oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC) and ellagitannins including ellagic acid which antioxidant compounds can reduce oxidative and physiological stress and support the body’s resilience to inflammation and mental stress.
~ Resveratrol is a polyphenol compound that reduces oxidative stress and supports mitochondria function which can turn into benefits for cardiovascular health, brain function, digestion, immunity, men’s health and liver detoxification. In fact, muscadine has six times more resveratrol than table grapes and 40 more times the antioxidants.
~Muscadine also has lots of flavonoids which are Anti-viral. Anti-cancer. Anti-inflammatory. Anti-allergic compounds
~They are the only grape with Ellagitannins and ellagic acid, potent polyphenols that contain anti-carcinogenic properties shown to be effective in reducing the risk of cervical cancer. As well as being highly efficient in inhibiting mitosis-cancer cell division and inducing cell deaths in breast, pancreas, esophageal, skin, colon, and prostate cancer cells. The nutrient is also said to alleviate leukemia.
Not only are these grapes beneficial for our health, but they are also vital for our local ecology. Muscadine is a very hearty grape that grows Texas to south Florida, north to Delaware, and west to Missouri. Many different species feasts on the fruit, such as bears, dear, skunks, turkeys, songbirds and more. They were part of the Native Americans diet and were first written about in 1594, which tells me that there is very much a space for these delicious native wild grapes in today’s American diet, especially considering all the health benefits these grapes provide. If we begin to relearn to cultivate and eat wild and native foods, we can return biodiversity improving soil health, water quality and human health. It’s clearly a win win win! And that’s where I come in, to help connect the dots between the environment and human health and wellness!
Maybe next week I'll talk about those bugs be gone candles I made and some other wildness! Until then stay salty.