TOUCHSTONE: "I remember, when I was in love ... the wooing of a peascod [pod] instead of her, from whom I took two cods [pods] and, giving her them again, said with weeping tears, 'Wear these for my sake.' We that are true lovers run into strange capers; but as all is mortal in nature, so is all nature in love mortal in folly."
ROSALIND: "Thou speak'st wiser than thou are ware of."
TOUCHSTONE: "Nay, I shall ne'er be ware of mine own wit till I break my shins against it."
--from William Shakespeare's As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 4--
Our bounty of snow peas lately has SAM filling his pockets full of them when he goes out to the garden. We have been eating them every day for the past several days and sharing them with son and his family. Since I like to know the "skinny" on living lean (i.e., staying healthy in this sick economy), I thought it best to do some research on the benefits of what's been filling our bellies. If you can believe it (I'm still having a hard time digesting this information), certain veggies may be hazardous to your health! They naturally contain chemicals like toxic alkaloids and oxalic acid which interfere with metabolism and upset adequate absorption of vitamins and minerals also present in the veggies. I can still remember my parents insisting that I eat things like brussel sprouts and broccoli (apparently not noxious at all), but no, I would be obstinate. I didn't mind tomatoes, peas, and potatoes, especially fried. If I'd only known then what I know now! Still, I don't think I'll be tearing down my pea or tomato vines, at least not until they're done bearing fruit, and I've already unearthed some potatoes. We had them steamed and served with parsley butter for lunch today. Delicious! I'm inclined to think those noxious veggies might have some good purpose for us. I've been known to have a darker side, but silver linings have always appealed to me.
Last summer SAM and I were fortunate enough to attend an Insect Awareness and Appreciation Day in Illinois and learn from various bug experts who were kind enough to bring along some "props." Monarch butterfly larvae favor milkweed plants for good reason. Asclepius keep them supplied with cardenolide alkaloids which can sicken most vertebrate herbivores that try to feast on the larvae and butterflies. Yes, even though the butterflies eat nectar from a variety of flowers and not milkweed leaves, the toxins are stored (sequestered) in the bodies of the larvae which metamorphose into those beautiful adult forms. Those youngsters are protecting themselves and their adult selves from most predators. I hope my preference for noxious veggies when I was young has that same effect for me now that I'm more "mature." I like to imagine that pathogens (swine flu?) and other noxious elements don't stand a chance.