There are so many opinions about eating. What to eat, how much of it, when, in what combinations, and more. The icing on this paleo, plant-based, raw, locally-sourced, seasonal cake is that the rules shift pretty frequently, causing more confusion. Herbalism can help cut through all of the noise by reminding us that using our senses can help simplify our relationship to food.
At the foundation of an herbal practice is an understanding and embracing of each human being’s innate intelligence. Our bodies and minds are equipped with the tools we need to be in the world, the most basic of these tools are our senses. For hundreds of thousands of years, humans have relied on taste, scent, touch, and sight to help inform our food choices. Like lots of things, the functioning of our senses run on a spectrum. Some of us have 20/20 vision and lots of us don’t, part of the miracle of humanity is our variation. The same is true in the plant world.
Plants come in a kaleidoscope of colors and, amazingly, each of those colors corresponds to the types of nutrition each plant offers. The nutrition comes from phytonutrients: substances in plants that contribute to the good health of us humans. Phytonutrients or phytochemicals are also of benefit to plants. These natural compounds give plants their colors and support the health of a plant by protecting against pests and environmental stressors, for example.
Here is a guide to plant colors: which parts of the body they support, some of the nutrients they represent, and how to prepare them so you get the most out of your groceries, CSA, or garden haul.