The transition has begun! We are eating wild salad greens at dinner each day. We’re seeing roughly $4.69 in savings two or three times a month buying spinach. This is somewhat offset by the gas being spent to make three foraging runs so far. However, the gas being spent has already been paid for several times over. We are using chokecherry vinegar salad dressing instead of the applesauce, offering reasonable savings off the cost of toppings offering both Vitamin C and Iron. Vinegar still costs money, but nowhere near the cost of even no-name applesauce.
In addition, we have leaves and berries drying and a grain mill similar to the one pictured here, on order. Being newbies to all of this, we thought we found several antique grain mills at a local thrift store. Turns out they were antique meat grinders instead. All is not lost however on that discovery, because there are times when a tray of chuck or utility steak is cheaper than hamburger. In the past, I’d merely spend a fair bit of time chopping that steak into tiny cubes. The next time such a sale is on, I’ll try out one of these meat grinders.
I don’t need all three however, so if you want one, send me $30 via paypal and I’ll ship it off to you. Only two of you can take advantage of this deal. Most of that $30 will go into Canadian shipping costs, as these are heavy little units! If shipping ended up being more than $25, I’ll ask you to cover the rest via paypal again ASAP. $5 each is what I paid for them at the thrift store, although they look like they could sit in a museum case somewhere! The middle grinder is not for sale! That one is mine!
When our grain mill arrives, we’ll be grinding up a batch of rice flour I attempted to make and see how that turns out. We’ll be grinding up dried chokeberry into flour as well, and when a couple sprigs of plantain seeds dry, we’ll try grinding those into flour too. Grinding dandelion root turns it into a powder suitable for coffee substitutes or for use in baking and skincare or haircare products.
Speaking of which, we have leaves drying for use in a shampoo and for use in a water infusion that I’ll use when making the leave-in conditioner as well. Dried herbs are also useful in making an infused vinegar hair rinse.
I have an oil infusion gently boiling on the stove. The result will go into a facial cleanser/scrub. A pot of liquid glycerin soap is cooling on a back burner on the stove as well. It will be used in little amounts for shampoos, anti-bacterial hand soaps, and similar products.
Grinding the herbs required buying a mortar and pestal. We picked up one at Home Sense a bit larger and less flashy than the one pictured here. It wasn’t cheap, but hopefully the uses we’ve bought it for will have it paying for itself over time.
We didn’t have to buy the glycerin soaps, as those had been kicking around in the bathroom cupboard for years! Whenever we finally run out of the 2+liters of liquid soap I’ve just made, we’ll have to get more glycerin soap then. But for now, that step hasn’t cost us anything.
Once the necessary herbs for the water infusion are dried and crushed, I’ll be able to make the shampoo and vinegar rinse and leave-in conditioner. We are including Nettle in these infusions because of nettle’s reported hair strengthening, dandruff treating, and scalp healing properties, among others people have listed around the DIY hair care community.
Not buying shampoo, conditioner, facial cleanser/scrub and hand soap for awhile will see savings of at least $60 – $100 over the next year just on personal hygiene! That will definitely pay for the mortar and pestal and grain mill, just in our first year of making the switch to wild produce!
We brought home more burdock root, so we have enough now to soften and remove the bark, then cook to see what everyone thinks of them. The effort needed to dig up a root is worse than trying to dig up potatoes, I have to say. We bought a $20 folding shovel from Canadian Tire almost exactly like this one pictured here, to help with the task of getting roots, and was I ever glad we did! This shovel stores nicely in a backpack and it’s carrying case has a belt loop to attach it to camping gear or a utility belt.
If everyone likes burdock root as a vegetable (and there are well over 200 ways of cooking it apparently!), then hopefully the number of roots we find to dig up will pay for the shovel as well.
Lifestyle changes are rarely free of charge. We had to buy garden gloves, because to this point we had never owned any other than those my daughter took to work all the time. The garden gloves are to allow us to pick stinging nettle for use in our hygiene products. Apparently you can eat nettle, but when I was out with my daughter gathering the other night, this is how I came home!
The lesson??? Don’t go foraging for nettle unless your legs and arms are protected! My hands were fine, my arms were fine thanks to how I was reaching around plants, but my legs were rubbing on smaller ones near my feet!
So we’ve had to buy a grain mill, a folding shovel, a mortar and pestal, and garden gloves so far. Somehow between the two foraging runs this past week, I’ve lost my rose cutting sheers. I hope I find them before eventually having to buy those again. They’re handy for snipping stems and thick leaves off plants rather than try to snap or tear them off.
So salads, root vegetables, shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, facial cleanser, even recipes for skin toner and toothpaste (been making the toothpaste for awhile now already) will not only produce savings on our grocery bill, but through the removing of more chemicals and the adding of unprocessed nutrition, make us all healthier as well. We’re looking forward to seeing how this all turns out.