The year 2020 has seen so much adversity but we must stay optimistic by finding the silver lining and hanging on to it like a metaphorical lifesaver. Because COVID-19 has affected our job security, the food supply chain, and proved that even the strongest pillars of society can sway with the strong winds of change, we are becoming more aware.
We are aware of our resilience, of the unsustainability of our modern supply system, and best of all, aware that we can only truly have complete trust in our fellow neighbors, our families and in ourselves. Close and personal relationships with our communities have proven to be more dependable in these times of trouble, and the responsibility of our own livelihood rests heavy on the shoulders of numerous people around the world. This has prompted a new generation of growers and doers. The younger generation Z and millennials are feeling tremendous pressure to look for other ways of sustaining themselves and many have turned to growing their own food, or turning to their community and buying from local farmers and butchers.
It is my passion to help stoke this fire, if we as a nation are able to bring healthier and fresher food to our tables from local growers and farmers or from home we will severely alleviate the growing pains our food supply system is bound to feel as our population continues to climb. Ultimately, the goal is to decentralize food supply and raise our standards of our producer's stewardship to their communities and employees. Less fuel will be spent hauling commercially-produced lettuce across the nation, less water will be demanded and consumed on massive monocultures, and our dollars will directly benefit our neighbors, not the distributors and retailers that can further contaminate the food we eat.
The most important message is to vote with your dollar. Support the systems that surround and benefit you. Buy from your farmer neighbors; befriend the homesteaders that sell eggs or produce, visit farmers markets and deepen your relationship with the food you eat. The more that you do this, the more a community will prosper and politicians will follow the lead, not the other way around. You will find that food tastes better when you know the farmer and these deeper communal relationships nourish so much more than just your body, they can help save the world.
Cheers and Good Growing
Yaupon Holly, aka Cassina, or the less-appetizing Latin misnomer Ilex vomitoria (it does NOT cause vomiting) is the only caffeine containing plant native to North America. Yaupon is extremely common in Southeastern Coast of North America. Many have seen its distinguishing red berries in the winter, but few have realized the potential Yaupon has to make delicious caffeinated tea that many say tastes better than its cousin Yerba Mate. It's the perfect solution for those who want to reduce their dependence on commercially produced caffeinated beverages and save money at the same time!
The first step to brewing a hot cup of roasted Yaupon tea is the most important; you must correctly identify the leaves, otherwise you can have terrible tasting tea, or brew something that can potentially make you ill. Fortunately for us, Yaupon is very easy to identify. To be absolutely sure you can wait until the later fruiting seasons in the cold and identify the Yaupon by their red or sometimes yellow berries, but this is not the best time to harvest as the leaves are bitter. Alternatively you can pay attention to their unique leaf structure. Look for their small oval, scalloped leaves which alternate on the stem.
Yaupon Holly can be prepared a number of ways, freshly dried, roasted, or toasted. Here I will document the process for my favorite method of roasting for a rich, malty taste similar to Yerba Mate.
Comment your favorite Yaupon Holly preparation methods and tea recipies!
Cheers and Happy Growing