Yes, we are here!

At MOTHER EARTH LIVING and MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we have been educating folks about the benefits of self-reliance for 50 years. That includes researching and sourcing the best books and products to help individuals master the skills they need in times like these and beyond. Our online store is open and we are here to answer any questions you might have. Our customer service staff is available Monday through Friday from 8a.m.-5p.m. CDT. We can be reached at 1-800-456-6018 or by email. Stay safe!


Round Robin: The Herbal Collection

Rob Proctor confronts the habit of over-collecting.

| December/January 1997

Denver, Colorado—I’ve come to the conclusion that the major force that drives this country is the fear of running out of something. Who doesn’t worry periodically about running out of gas, toothpaste, ­coffee, bathroom tissue, clean underwear, milk, pet food, or Pop Tarts? Something close to panic sets in when I realize there’s no chocolate in the house. Perhaps that explains why, for my entire adult life, I’ve lived within walking distance of an all-night convenience store. (Or perhaps it’s because there’s one convenience store for approximately every ten people on the planet and everybody in my city lives within walking distance of one.)

Winter often increases our anxieties about running out of something. I marvel at some of my friends’ kitchens, stocked to ensure survival from blizzard conditions harsher than those ­endured by the Donner party. My cupboards are full of survival foods as well, but the problem is that they all need to be cooked and I don’t cook. If I were snowed in by myself, I wouldn’t know how to make an edible meal out of the hodgepodge of jars of pasta, cinnamon sticks, and dried mushrooms and tomatoes. I’d simply call Dominos and pray that the delivery guy has chains on his tires.

But there’s something comforting about having all that stuff high up on the shelves. If I could cook, the meal I’d fix would be extremely delectable and healthy because of the herbs that I’d add to it.

Have I got herbs! I used to hang them in decorative bundles in the kitchen, but after they turned brown and crumbly, I couldn’t tell them apart. I’d find myself adding oregano instead of mint to a pot of brewing tea. I don’t recommend this, and I don’t know what mint would do for spaghetti sauce. By midwinter, a layer of dust would have settled on the herbs. Cute and quaint as they may have looked, I rarely used them after that. Even if I’d tried to, I’d have been disturbing a spider’s little ecosystem.



Nowadays, I store most dried herbs in decorative glass jars in a cupboard or the hall pantry. I haven’t a clue about the mysterious contents of some of those jars in the cupboards. There are also a lot of grains, beans, flours, and meals that I don’t recognize as well as a jar of sugar with a vanilla bean in it. I’m pretty sure it’s sugar, but I’ve been known to confuse sugar with salt—I’ve never lived down the time I was asked to get a guest chef a cup of sugar for her lemon custard pie.

There’s an entire shelf of herbal vinegars, some of which were bottled during the Nixon administration. The ones in pretty, old-fashioned bottles with a festive bow of raffia or yarn around the neck were gifts from friends. Twigs, stems, and leaves (or perhaps seaweed) are suspended in murky eternity. I’m tempted to clean up the bottles, change the cheery bows, and give them back to the original makers—in a basket with recycled fruitcake, of course.



Subscribe today and save 58%

Get the latest on Healthy Living and Natural Beauty!

Mother Earth LivingRedefine beauty and embrace holistic living with Mother Earth Living by your side. Each issue  provides you with easy, hands-on ways to connect your life with the natural world -- from eating seasonally to culinary and medicinal uses of herbs; from aromatherapy and DIY cosmetics to yoga and beyond. Start your journey to holistic living today and you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Classifieds


click me