Without really ever intending to do so, I think we are somehow smack in the middle of building our very first barndominium ever. And it’s safe to say, we couldn’t …
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Christmas is on the way, Christmas shopping is underway, and more people have woken up to the realities of needing to prep than anytime before in modern history. The world … Read the rest
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I’ve been thinking a lot about bugging out a lot lately, and on my backpacking trips, it is … Read the rest
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Even though the thermometer and a few flakes of snow might be falling outdoors, it doesn’t mean you can’t tackle a few simple garden chores indoors this winter to help …
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If doctors don’t understand health statistics, how can they possibly properly counsel patients?
“In these mammography wars, rational thinking can be easily lost.” Mammograms are big business, bringing in about seven billion dollars a year, but it would be a bit too “cynical to believe” that the pushback from mammogram critics “stems only from self-interest of radiologists, surgeons, managers, and so on, whose daily bread depends on the continuation of mammographic screening programmes.” It just makes intuitive sense that mammograms should work, but that’s why we have science—so we can put things to the test. “We owe it to [our patients] to be ‘evidence-based’ rather than ‘faith-based.’” They deserve an objective analysis of the data.
“We have done a dismal job of accurately informing the public about screening.” Why? One reason is that the doctors themselves aren’t informed, as I discuss in my video Why Patients Aren’t Informed About Mammograms. A survey of radiologists found that 96 percent overestimated a middle-aged woman’s risk of breast cancer, for example. In one sneaky study, researchers “contacted gynecologists’ practices and made an appointment for telephone counseling.” During the actual phone consultation, they pretended to be a concerned family member, asking about the benefits and harms of mammograms. “Although all gynecologists appeared motivated and concerned with sufficiently answering our questions, they lacked information as well as knowledge of how to communicate information on medical risk.”
In an article titled “When Doctors Meet Numbers,” the authors write that “we cannot take for granted the ability of physicians to understand and interpret quantitative information and to use it to the best advantage of the patient.” In fact, this is “an educational blind spot” for physicians that was identified more than 80 years ago. In one study, for example, 151 practicing physicians were asked a series of multiple choice and true-or-false questions to gauge their practical understanding of some key concepts. They failed miserably, getting just 55 percent correct, which is only about 20 percent more than they would have gotten right just by guessing randomly.
If doctors don’t understand health statistics, how can they possibly counsel patients properly? In a famous study, one hundred physicians were asked what the chances were of a woman actually having breast cancer if her mammogram came back positive. They were given all the numerical data so they could do the math, but 95 out of 100 not only answered incorrectly, but they were spectacularly wrong—as in off by 1000 percent.
Even doctors at Harvard had a problem. Faculty, staff, and students at Harvard Medical School were asked a simple question, and 82 percent got it wrong. That was a few decades ago, though. What happened in an updated survey in Boston? Only 77 percent got it wrong, but they were off by an average of about 3000 percent, demonstrating medicine’s continued “uncomfortable relationship with math.”
“Only 12% of the 4713 surveyed obstetrics-gynecology residents were able to correctly answer 2 simple questions on medical statistics…What will the uninformed 88% of these residents say when their first patient asks about her chance of truly having breast cancer given a positive mammogram?” What’s particularly frightening is that, in some studies, those doctors “most confident in their estimates were furthest away from the correct response.” They didn’t even know that they didn’t know. “All of these studies document the same phenomenon: A considerable number of physicians are statistically illiterate, that is, they do not understand the statistics of their own discipline.”
So, when physicians say they don’t have time to fully inform patients about the benefits and harms of a test, maybe that’s a good thing if they don’t even know what they’re talking about. Instead, they may just talk about the benefits of breast cancer screening and skip “any discussion of adverse effects.” Given all of this, we shouldn’t be surprised when nine out of ten women “believed that this screening could not harm a woman without breast cancer,” while often greatly overestimating the benefits. “In fact, the benefits and harms are so evenly balanced” that perhaps we should just inform women and let them make up their own minds. That’s not what you hear from advertising campaigns, though. An ad “simply tells women to be screened, overstates the benefit of mammography, and ignores harms altogether.” Indeed, instead of education, an “obvious approach was to use powerful tools of persuasion—including fear, guilt, and a sense of personal responsibility—to convince people to get screened.” Whatever it takes.
It’s “easy to ‘sell’ screening: just magnify the benefit, minimize the cost, and keep the numbers less than transparent.” To put routine screenings to the test, studies have randomized hundreds of thousands of women to get mammograms or not, but what’s the point if we’re not going to share the results? “We spend billions on clinical studies but fail to ensure that patients and physicians are communicated the results transparently.” Maybe women should “tear up the pink ribbons and campaign for honest information.” How else can women make informed decisions? Instead, hospitals throw “monthly ‘mingle and mammograms’ parties.” In addition to “appetizers, foot massages, and bags emblazoned with the logo ‘fight like a girl,’” maybe they should “serve[ ] women balanced information about the benefits and harms of screening to chew on.
Unfortunately, many doctors display a similar ignorance about nutrition. See, for example, Physicians May Be Missing Their Most Important Tool.
- Mammography screening brings in about seven billion dollars a year, and the industry suffers from conflicts of interest amongst radiologist, surgeons, and others who may profit off of the procedure.
- One reason the medical community has failed to accurately inform the public about screening is that physicians themselves aren’t informed. A survey of radiologists found that 96 percent overestimated a middle-aged woman’s break cancer risk, for example.
- An “educational blind spot” for doctors was identified more than eight decades ago—namely, physicians may not understand and interpret quantitative data, nor be able to use the information to the patient’s advantage.
- In a famous study, a hundred physicians were asked what a woman’s chance of having breast cancer would be with a positive mammogram result, and 95 out of the 100 doctors not only answered incorrectly, but were off by 1,000 percent.
- Study after study, including those with physicians at the esteemed Harvard University, show a significant number of doctors are “statistically illiterate, that is, they do not understand the statistics of their own discipline.”
- It follows that, instead of fully informing patients about the benefits and harms of a screening test, physicians may omit discussion of risks and only present the benefits. As such, it is understandable that nine out of ten women believe mammograms could not be harmful to a woman without breast cancer.
- The benefits and harms of mammograms, however, are evenly balanced.
- Women deserve to know the benefits and harms of screening to make informed decisions about whether the risk is worth it.
There is so much confusion when it comes to mammography, combined with the corrupting commercial interests of a billion-dollar industry. As with any important health decision, everyone should be fully informed of the risks and benefits, and make up their own mind about their own bodies. This is one installment in my 14-part series on mammograms, which includes:
- Nine out of Ten Women Misinformed About Mammograms
- Mammogram Recommendations: Why the Conflicting Guidelines?
- Flashback Friday: Should Women Get Mammograms Starting at Age 40?
- Do Mammograms Save Lives?
- Consequences of False-Positive Mammogram Results
- Do Mammograms Hurt?
- Can Mammogram Radiation Cause Breast Cancer?
- Understanding the Mammogram Paradox
- Overtreatment of Stage 0 Breast Cancer DCIS
- Women Deserve to Know the Truth About Mammograms
- Breast Cancer and the Five-Year Survival Rate Myth
- Why Mammograms Don’t Appear to Save Lives
- Why Patients Aren’t Informed About Mammograms
- The Pros and Cons of Mammograms
For more on breast cancer, see my videos Oxidized Cholesterol 27HC May Explain Three Breast Cancer Mysteries, Eggs and Breast Cancer and Flashback Friday: Can Flax Seeds Help Prevent Breast Cancer?
I was able to cover colon cancer screening in just one video. If you missed it, see Should We All Get Colonoscopies Starting at Age 50?.
Also on the topic of medical screenings, check out Flashback Friday: Worth Getting an Annual Health Check-Up and Physical Exam?, Is It Worth Getting Annual Health Check-Ups? and Is It Worth Getting an Annual Physical Exam?.
Michael Greger, M.D.
PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:
- 2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss
- 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers
- 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet
- 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food
- 2013: More Than an Apple a Day
- 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
What makes a plant rare? Or anything for that matter? Well, it’s rare if there are only a few examples in existence.
The Middlemist red (scientifically identified as unspecified Camellia), a deep pink, rose-like flower — not red as its name suggests — with lush green foliage, was imported as a luxury item from China over 200 hundred years ago (1804). By the mid-1820s, it was pretty much wiped out in its native habitat of China. There are now just two known locations of this plant: New Zealand and Great Britain. Sad, when you think of it, because not only is this plant beautiful, it has many beneficial qualities from skincare to cancer to cardiovascular care.The Camellia Flower Family_Veit_ // flickr
Camellias are a popular plant, originally found in eastern and southern Asia, in the regions between the Himalayas and Japan, and Indonesia. Part of the Theaceae family, there are at least 300 species and more than 3,000 hybrids. Camellias were popular, both in gardens and in the wild in China and Japan, long before they appeared in European and English gardens. In fact, the first didn’t appear in an English garden until the early 18th century.
Camellias are actually evergreen shrubs, sometimes growing into small trees up to 60 feet tall. The glossy leaves are thick and serrated, and the flowers are large, a prominent feature of the plant. These flowers can be as large as 5 inches in diameter with 5 to 9 petals. Colors include white, pink, red, and yellow (the yellow ones found in South China and Vietnam). The white-flowered variety is preferred for making tea. The dense collection of yellow stamens, a stark contrast to the petal color, is the fruit; a dry capsule, often divided into five compartments — all of which contain up to eight seeds.
Camellias do well in humus-rich, acid soils. They don’t flourish in chalky or calcium-rich soil. Due to its size and the size of the flowers, they require a large amount of water (and don’t tolerate drought). That said, there are some species that flourish in more arid, karst soil, as is found in Vietnam.
It is a fast-growing plant. Depending on the variety and geographical location, they usually grow about 12 inches a year until the plant is mature. Although beautiful, ornamental shrubs, it has long been grown for its various cooking, medicinal, and cosmetic properties, the most popular use being tea as a beverage and tea oil as a seasoning. It also has significant use in industrial applications. Camellia oil, made from pressed seeds, is used to clean and protect the blades of various cutting instruments.John Middlemist and the Middlemist RedMaureen Barlin // FLickr
John Middlemist was a nurseryman from Shepherd’s Bush in England. He discovered the plant that bears his name while in China in 1804. He carefully transported it back to England — which must have been a challenging job given this particular variety is finicky, and the conditions on the long sea voyage would not have been ideal for transporting fragile flowers. He did manage, however, and once it was safely in England, he was able to propagate it. He donated the plant to the world-famous Kew Gardens, but it vanished from there, only to be found in 1823 in the collection of the 6th Duke of Devonshire, in his massive conservatory at Chiswick House in West London.
The survival of this rare flower (even in Chiswick Conservatory) was met with difficulties. Like many other grand English manors, Chiswick fell into neglect and became home to a buried bomb during WW II (which thankfully, didn’t explode and destroy the conservatory and its struggling plants). Volunteers came to the rescue, and over the course of a decade, managed to restore the conservatory and identify the many plant species including the rarest of all, the Middlemist red. Interestingly, this conservatory is home for 36 of them, but it was 1999 before the Middlemist red was identified, and a good thing, too. This beautiful, rare flower, imported from China as a luxury item has sadly, been wiped out in its native country.
At Chiswick, the Middlemist red camellia grows in a strictly controlled environment under glass. The flower blooms in the middle of winter, usually January and February.Middlemist Red Native Habitat
The Middlemist red, like most of the Camellia genus, blooms better in an environment that provides light to partial shade with shelter from a hot afternoon sun. They do well under the shade of tall trees. This probably explains why they prospered in the Himalayas. However, it makes one question the untimely demise in its local habitat so soon after a clipping was transported from China to England. The only plausible answer is the plant was over cultivated, thus rendering it extinct in the wild. As a result, the only remaining Middlemist reds are now grown in captivity. One in a botanical garden in New Zealand and the other one at Chiswick in England. What was once wild, is now held captive.Middlemist Red Propagation
The big question is why hasn’t this flower been propagated? Camellias can be successfully propagated by taking a cutting and placing it in water. It usually takes 1 to 2 months for the rooting to occur. When you notice a substantial root mass, it’s time to plant it in the ground (if the outdoor conditions are favorable and there’s no threat of frost). Once leaves start growing from the stem, you know your cutting has rooted successfully.
Camellias, as a flowering plant, produce pollen that is transferred to the flower pistil by insects. This fertilizes the plant and a seedpod forms. Inside the seedpod are tiny seeds that can scatter when the pod is broken, or the pods can be collected and opened manually to start plants.
Propagating by cuttings or collecting seeds sounds simple enough. In fact, there are sites that claim to sell Middlemist red seeds. So, perhaps the propagation process will repopulate the world with this beautiful but rare flower.Middlemist Red Health Benefits
Camellias have a wide range of uses: C. japonica (tsubaki in Japanese) or rose of winter, this rare flower of the Middlemist red has a long list of health benefits.
For one thing, the Middlemist red has antioxidant properties which may be beneficial to various types of cardiovascular diseases and cancer, among other diseases. The flower of this plant is a natural skin moisturizer because it’s rich in oleic acid (a moisturizing fatty acid). Its collagen-boosting and antioxidant properties may have anti-aging benefits, making the skin look younger. The oil can also be beneficial to hair, making it moist and strong, even restoring damaged hair cells. It is also believed to have medicinal benefits for gastric disorders and certain injuries, and it’s often used as an anti-inflammatory agent.
A rare and beautiful flower, the Middlemist red is something to behold. With so many beneficial properties, one can only hope that botanists and scientists are seeking ways to further propagate this amazing, and a delicate shrub.
I started raising chickens for meat in 2014. I’ve always bought the same feed from the same farmer. Prices have always been about the same. Even when … Read the rest
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“Even as vines creep upwards on a wall, so the heart of the Mung Fu warrior grips a challenge and removes paint like tiny fingers, as well as causing mold, leaks and inexorable structural damage in that which he conquers.” –A State of Bean: Principles of Mung Fu
“Let’s light a fire,” Jack said as he surveyed their campsite.
“So you’re the one,” Pak said. “I never would have thought it, but all the pieces fit.”
“Excuse me?” Penny said, taking off her floppy camouflage hat. “Jack is the one? What do you mean?”
“Can I fill her in?” Jack asked. Pak nodded.
“Great,” Jack said. “I wasn’t sure about opsec. Though you said she could come, so I guess she’s fine.”
“Yeah,” Penny said. “I’m fine.” She did a little half spin like a fashion model in her well-fitting camo pants and olive-drab tank top.
“You’re ridiculous,” Jack said. “Did you go shopping at the LL Bean Army Surplus?”
She shrugged. “Tell me what’s up. I’m dying to know.”
“Arson,” Pak said.
“Right,” Jack said. “Someone has been starting fires all over the place and we think this is the next spot where they’re going to break out.”
“Cool,” Penny said. “I was making some guesses on the flight, but they were all plant related. I thought you might have discovered some new kind of corn or something boring.”
“Boring?” Jack said, stricken.
“No offense,” Penny said.
“Too late,” Jack said. “Why did you want to come if you thought I might be doing something plant related out here?”
“Because you’re here,” she said with a toss of her hair.
Jack smiled. “That works. I am glad you came. Anyhow, we’re going to see if we can catch the arsonists in the act and – wait – what’s that in your backpack!?”
Something was moving in Penny’s pack. Jack pulled his hunting knife expectantly – then saw the head of a small cat emerge from the bag.
“Dinglebat!” Penny said. “I thought I told you to stay home?”
“Lots of people inviting themselves along,” Pak said.
“Meow,” Dinglebat said.
“So, about that fire,” Jack said. “It doesn’t feel like camping without a fire.”
“True,” Penny said. “We could use some of the dry scrubby stuff to light a campfire. If we clear an area it won’t spread.”
“No,” Pak said. “They’ll see our smoke rising.”
“You’re right,” Jack said. “I forgot about that.” He looked around at the prairie stretching off into the distance. “This is crazy, though. We’re in the middle of nowhere. We drove two hours out and haven’t seen a single person in miles and miles. It would take a dedicated arsonist to come all the way out here.”
“The models don’t lie,” Pak said. “They may come in on a helicopter.”
Jack and Penny looked up at the blue sky, starting to turn pink and gold around the edges as the sun sank below the horizon. It was completely devoid of helicopters.
“They could also arrive in a balloon,” Pak said.
Jack and Penny looked up again. No balloons.
“Or a rocket,” Pak said.
“You’re joking,” Penny said, after looking up for a third time and failing to detect any rockets.
“If we don’t have a fire, I can’t cook s’mores,” Jack said. “Look,” he said, pulling a paper bag out of the bed of their rented Ford Ranger. He reached in and produced bag of marshmallows, a few chocolate bars and a box of Graham crackers. “I picked up everything we need when we hit the grocery in town.”
“I saw you buy it,” Pak said. “I assumed it was your idea of a balanced meal.”
“No,” Jack replied. “It’s not balanced. It doesn’t have Ocean Octaves in it. S’mores are just a treat. You know, a ‘let’s reward ourselves for chasing Oklahoma arsonists’ treat. But you need a fire to make them.”
“You’ll have to wait for the arsonists to start one,” Penny said.
Jack looked up at the darkening sky. “I don’t see any rockets yet.”
“I was joking about rockets,” Pak said.
“I know,” Jack replied, then walked to the truck and popped the hood.
“What are you doing?” Penny said.
“There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”
“Meow!” Dinglebat yowled indignantly.
“Have no fear,” Pak said to the cat, patting it on the head. “It is simply a statue of talk.”
“Do they have mosquitoes out here?” Penny asked Pak.
“Yes,” Pak replied. “But it has been very dry, and we are not near any piles of discarded tires where they might breed.”
“How did mosquitoes reproduce before we invented car tires?” Penny asked.
“They lived in horse troughs,” Jack said from the other side of the truck.
“I was just wondering about mosquitoes because we don’t seem to have any tents,” Penny said.
“Sleeping outside balances the qi,” Pak said.
“Oh,” Penny said.
“There!” Jack said, returning with the truck’s battery, some wires and a few parts. “We’ll be able to make s’mores later. I have a plan now.”
“Great,” Penny said. “But I think I want to eat something less sugary first.”
“Of course,” Jack said. “It needs to be way dark before you make s’mores. Ideally, your eyes shouldn’t be able to tell the difference between carbonized marshmallows and melted chocolate.”
Dinglebat disappeared into Penny’s bag and then remerged with a tin of sardines in his mouth.
“Ew,” Penny said. “Where did you even get those?” Dinglebat pulled the tab without gracing her with a reply, then delicately nipped at a fish – then pulled back as if he’d been bitten.
“What is it?” Penny asked. “Is one of them still alive?”
She picked up the can and read the side.
“Aw shucks. These aren’t real. They’re made of soy. It says ‘Soydeens – the taste of the sea, cruelty free.’ Oh Dinglebat, I’m sorry buddy. You picked up the wrong ones.” She shook her head. “That’s what you get for stuffing sardines in my bag. Not to mention your own silly self.” She sniffed at the open can and looked closer. “Yuck. Look, Pak – they even made little spines out of soy. Gross!”
Pak shook his head. “It is a misuse of a noble bean. Here, I have some food in my own pack.” He lifted a satchel and handed it to Penny.
She opened it and pulled out a few square packages. “Ramen? What is this, college?”
“They are a traditional food of my people,” Pak replied. “Long ago, in the Ming Dynasty, Li Ramen invented the first dehydrated-”
“Don’t listen to him,” Jack said. “Ramen came from Japan.”
Pak shrugged. “They stole it from China.”
“Do we have any water to boil?” Penny said.
“No,” Pak replied. “Adding water dilutes the Ramen’s energy. Here,” he said, taking a package from Penny and tearing it open. “You simply remove the square of compressed noodles, then open the seasoning packet, like so,” he said, ripping open the seasoning packet with his teeth and sprinkling part of it on the compressed block of dry wheat noodles. He rolled up the remaining half of the seasoning packet and put it back in his pack, then took a loud, crunching bite of the ramen noodles.
“Do you use all the seasoning packet?” Penny asked, taking a ramen square of her own and preparing it as Pak had shown them. Jack did the same.
“No,” Pak replied. “Some remains behind, like echoes of our provisions, meals tasted and untasted, culinary signposts on the road of life, a dusting of eternity, like stars of flavored salt in the front left pocket of one’s khakis.”
“Wow, that’s beautiful,” Penny said.
“Also, you can suck on the packets later,” Jack said around a mouthful of crunchy noodles. “When you crave more MSG.”
Pak shook his head sadly as he chewed the final bite of his meal. “I will not grace this nonsense with a response. I am going to sleep.”
“Now?” Jack said. “It’s what – 8:30 or something?”
“I have been awake continuously for 27.5 hours,” Pak replied, unrolling a sleeping bag. “Please watch for arsonists. I would not like to burn to death in my time of slumber.”
“How can you sleep when your bed is burning?” Penny said.
“And how can we dance when the earth is turning?” Jack said.
“Gravity,” Pak said, shutting his eyes.
Jack could see Penny’s outline in the moonlight a few feet away. He gathered up his s’more cooking supplies and set them up a dozen feet from Pak. Penny followed him over after a moment.
“Here,” Jack said, handing her his flashlight-enabled cellphone. “Hold the light for me so I can put this together.”
“Sure,” Penny said. “That looks complicated.”
“Not too much,” Jack said, running a pair of leads from the truck battery. “Not compared to rigging up my Mustang to burn vegetable oil. You’re supposed to do that with diesel engines, not gas engines.”
“I had to do some MacGyver style stuff back when I was little,” Penny said.
“Yeah?” Jack said, as he lit a portable acetylene torch and started working on the shaping of a crude cavity magnetron from the scavenged rear right hubcap of the Ranger.
“Yes, at the facility where they created us,” Penny said. “You see, it wasn’t like I had a normal upbringing, with a mom and a dad, in a place where…”
“Hmm,” Jack said, wondering if he was going to be able to properly direct the RF emitter or if he’d need to burn one of the truck tires in order to harvest the wires in the sidewall for a crude Faraday cage. No, that would involve lighting a fire, and if he was going to burn a tire, he might as well just cook the s’mores directly.
“…the intensity of the program would have destroyed normal girls, but we weren’t normal…”
“Right,” Jack said. Maybe aluminum foil would work, he wondered as he created a control circuit from parts of the truck radio. Though would s’mores even be good cooked with radiation? The burned edges were part of the charm.
“…over a thousand clones living their own lives right now. My sisters, my genetic…”
“Sure,” Jack mumbled, engaging the device and directing it towards a marshmallow. To his delight, it lit on fire almost immediately.
“So that’s the real story,” she said with a sigh, then looked at what Jack was doing. “And wow – you made a laser!”
“A laser?” Jack said, hoisting his first finished s’more proudly, then passing it to Penny. “You weren’t paying any attention. I made a microwave.”
“Same, same,” Penny said, taking the s’more and tasting it. “Ew.”
“Ew?” Jack asked.
“Yeah. The graham cracker is kind of stale or something. It’s like cardboard.” She licked her fingers. “I like the chocolate, though. It tastes kinda different.”
“What?” Jack said. “I bought a good brand!” He looked at the Graham cracker box, taking back his phone and shining the light at the small print. “No way,” he said. “I got the gluten-free ones. Ruined by trendy allergies!”
“Oh well,” said Penny. “We can just eat the marshmallows and chocolate.”
Jack sighed and looked at his crude and now worthless microwave. “Yeah, I guess so. If I knew the prairie plants better, I’d hunt for a Graham cracker substitute. On the east coast we have Buccellatum grahamii, with its wafer-like nutmeats. Out in Oregon there’s Panem meltuberculum. You have to roast the roots, but they’re great. Here, though, I’ve got nothing. Lost in the woods, so to speak. Or grasslands, as the case may be.”
“It’s okay,” Penny said. “I think it’s romantic that you tried to use a laser to cook me a s’more.”
“Thanks,” Jack said. “I’d better throw these bits and pieces back in the truck so the dew doesn’t mess them up.”
“Did you break anything reusing the bits like that?”
“Nothing serious,” Jack said. “I’ll put everything back together tomorrow.”
“Great,” Penny said. Jack loaded his microwave into the back seat of the truck, then sat down next to her. She leaned her head onto his shoulder and he slipped his arm around her waist. This could be the moment, he thought. Would it be weird to propose to her in an Oklahoma prairie? What if she said no? Maybe I should sing that “I’m just a girl who can’t say no,” song to her to kind of prime the pump. Like when a salesman asks a bunch of questions which all have yes answers, so you’re in a yes mood, then he asks ‘would you like to buy this 3,000 dollar vacuum with a built-in lounge chair on payments with 26.4% annualized interest’ and you automatically say ‘yes,’ then ruin your entire future. But it wouldn’t ruin Penny’s future if she said yes. In fact, it would give her the best future possible. Jack imagined the two of them raising a crop of little Broccolis. Maybe I’ll buy a station wagon. A station wagon would be cool. One of those huge ones from the 70s with the fake wood on the sides. I could refurbish the entire thing, he thought. A total restoration, and it would be awesome because everyone usually does that with muscle cars. And then-
“Well,” Penny yawned, standing up and patting him on the shoulder. “I’m off to sleep. See you on the flip side.”
She walked over to where Pak was and pulled out a sleeping bag, leaving Jack alone with his failed s’mores.
“Should’ve just asked her,” Jack muttered to himself. He looked at the box of pseudo Graham crackers, picked it up and hurled it off into the night. Nature could eat them. If they were even biodegradable.Get GARDEN HEAT: A Jack Broccoli Novel in paperback here on Amazon!
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Pacific Silverweed gets around… mostly the top of the world: Siberia, Alaska, the Yukon, British Columbia, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, Greenland… New Hampshire…( Mt. Washington is, after all, a mile high) western Long Island, Washington state, Oregon, California… And it has a long list of names: Silverweed, Pacific Silverweed, Greenland Silverweed, Eged’s Silverweed, Potentilla pacifica, Potentilla anserina ssp. pacifica, Argentina egedii ssp. ededii, Argentina egedii ssp. groenlandica and no doubt others. It was renamed in the 1990’s and not everyone is pleased. I think the nom de jour is Argentina egedii. What ever it is called many native groups ate it for a very long time proving botanists are not necessary.
Pacific Silverweed also has a lot of things we need. Per 100 grams of steamed roots it has: 132 calories, 3.1 grams of protein, 0.6 grams of fat, 29.5 grams of carbohydrates, 9.5 grams of fiber. No vitamin C reported and barely any Vitamin A, 0.2 RE. Te B vitamins are B1(thiamin) 0.01, B2 (riboflavin) 0.01 and B3 (niacin) 2.4 mg. The minerals line up: Phosphorus 109 mg, sodium 65 mg, magnesium 60 mg, calcium 37 mg, iron 3.5 mg, zinc and copper 1.1 mg each, and manganese 0.8 mg.
One of the problems with the plant is it grows like crazy. But if you’re hungry that’s great. At least 12 native groups in North America considered it a staple. They also ate A. anserina the same way (Silverweed, Common Silverweed and Silver Cinquefoil.) It’s a smaller plant and is found in wet places inland distributed sporadically throughout most of North America except the Old South.
As for the botanical names… What Argentina means is easy, “silvery.” “Anserina” is Dead Latin for “of the goose” either because it was fed to geese or the plant’s leaf shape reminded someone of a goose foot which is also what “chenopodium” means. In Sweden it is called Goosewort. “Egedii” took me far longer to sort out. But, I had an inspiration one day and found the answer on page 813 of a 72-year old book, Gray’s Manual of Botany, edited by Merritt Fernal. (If you’ve visited my website I’ve mentioned Fernald here and there.) Egedii honors Hans Poulsen Egede (1686 -1758) “the father of Greenland” (or in new Dead Latin, groenlandica.)
Green Deane’s Itemized Plant Profile
IDENTIFICATION: A low-growing perennial that spreads by creeping stolons. Leaves are pinnately compound, alternating, glossy green with very silver undersides. The five-petaled, five-sepaled flowers remind one of buttercups.
TIME OF YEAR: Fall
ENVIRONMENT: Beaches, dunes, sand flats, coastal estuaries, high tidal marshes, at or above the mean high tide. (When you consider New Hampshire only has 18.57 miles of coastline that’s quite a feet… feat. If you count every tidal nook and cranny it’s 235 miles.)
METHOD OF PREPARATION: The roots are always cooked — boiling or roasting — to remove bitterness. They can be dried before or after cooking for storage