Halloween is one of the most popular celebrations next to Christmas. I think everyone looks forward to it because it provides us with joyful merriments before the winter sets in. All children, including the young at heart, participate.
The autumn leaves transform to glorious hues of gold, burgundy and muted greens. There’s frost on the pumpkin, and spiced hot beverages warm our hearts to our fingertips. This is a lovely time of the year, of cable knit sweaters needed to walk the dogs, or play in the yard.
With the cold air kissing the crops, the farmers are busy at work with the harvest. Many seasonal fruits and vegetables come to our market, straight from the good earth to fortify and keep us healthy throughout the winter months.
Just like the little trick-or-treaters for candy at your door, our nature’s bounty provides us with a cornucopia of nutritional abundance for everyone.
This year my stevia plant has grown to at least 2-feet high. It’s full of the tasty green leaves that I can pick and dry to add to my jams, jellies, coffee, or fruit dish. Stevia rebaudiana is a perennial shrub from the border of Brazil and Paraguay, near the Amazon. It’s more prevalent in North America now, and if you live in colder climates, you can pot this plant and take it indoors for winter to enjoy its sweetness all year round.
The Stevia plant – and not the synthetic store-bought sweetener, has many healing properties. It’s a natural sweetener 3-times sweater then sugar, lowers both blood glucose and blood pressure, dilates blood vessels, and eliminates pathogenic bacteria, fungi, viruses and reduces inflammation.
Stevia has been used as tribal and herbal medicine by indigenous people of the Amazon for hundreds of years. They call it Kaa jhee, which they enjoy in their Yerba Mate tea. The natives used it for diabetes, obesity, cavities, hypertension, diuretic, and health tonic. Since its discovery, research now understands it contains about 100 phytochemicals, beneficial terpenes and flavonoids. (source: Raintree Plan Database)
Next to water, tea is the most widely consumed drink in society. An aromatic beverage harvested from the Amazon, Yerba Matte tea has circled the globe to grace prominent tea houses, including our kitchen pantry. It was introduced to North America by the Jesuit priests. At one time, this drink was more popular than coffee. It contains only 78 mg of caffeine, which is lower than your average cup of mocha java, making it popular with tisane consumers with eclectic taste.
"Yerba Matte can be added to your breakfast menu, as it gently provides your caffeine boost, reduces inflammation, helps the body detox, protects the heart and your DNA. Some research claims it contributes to effective weight control. This brew is ritually fashioned from a hollowed-out gourd, called a calabash, filled with a generous spoonful of yerba mate, infusing hot water. A silver straw with a filter at the end to sip this concoction. If you don't have a calabash, you can use a Bodum, and press the herbs to the bottom and serve."
Undoubtedly the mention of October conjures up visions of pumpkins. These unusual little vegetables grow off the vine decorating the hillsides. A drive in the country is a real showstopper when you spot giant carnival-like pumpkins.
"In 2019 the Guinness Book of Records chronicled New England's mammoth pumpkin by Alex Noel, from Pomfret Connecticut, for weighing in at 2,2945.5 lbs at the state fair. That's the equivalence to a small car! Or the size of Cinderella's Pumpkin Coach."
"There are many varieties of pumpkins and gourds out there. You will find them on all the continents; however, the pumpkin's trace history is from Mexico. Calabaza is a pre-Hispanic crop that dates to more than 7,500 years."
Autumn in Mexico is vibrant and active. Like North America, where we celebrate Halloween, they participate in the festival of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). We have our traditional colorful chrysanthemums, and Mexico has beautiful bouquets of marigold flowers. Picked from our good earth, fragrant marigolds contribute healing properties, are brought as offerings to the dearly departed adorning local cemeteries.
The original pumpkins were small with a tough skin, but an integral part of the Mexican diet. The Aztecs and Mayans enjoyed this food as they would cook it into sauces and toast the pumpkin seeds.
When the Spaniards landed in the Yucatan, they prepared Papadzules or “food for the lords,” which consisted of corn tortillas dipped in pumpkin seed sauce. The Spaniards later returned, bringing the pumpkins back home with them, and pumpkins entered the European cuisine.
Calabaza en tacha is a dish prepared on the Day of the Dead. Pumpkins are quartered and placed into a large cauldron to cook, flavoured with Guava, cinnamon sticks, and unrefined sugar cane. After a slow simmer, the candied pumpkin is sold at the market to the delight of many. This is the root of pumpkin spice.
This is the roots of pumpkin spice. It’s the candy of the good earth, authentic, and appetizing the way nature had intended her candy for everyone. It’s the food that can tickle our taste buds, refuel our body, and heal the ailing – all from our amazing natural soil to grace our holiday table. BBC Travel – Pumpkins Origin.
It will take the contribution of our global village to revive our living soils. Join us on our journey as we learn from scientists and experts as we advocate for soil consciousness, which is pivotal to our health, climate, and legacy for future generations.
All our readers, regardless of whether you celebrate Halloween, Samhain, or Dias de Los Muertos – be safe, be happy, and be healthy & Bon Appetite.
Your Soil for Humanity Team.