Dr. Cowan and his family have done the “dirty work” for us. Just add water and watch your wellness grow…
Below, Dr. Cowan breaks down for us the components and benefits in each of their 3 powders, available here:
During our visit to the Napa garden yesterday, I was struck by the diversity of strategies plants use to survive the winter. Our Perennial Greens Powder is made from tree collard leaves, gynura leaves and Malabar spinach leaves that are all harvested from the Napa garden. It also includes moringa leaves that are harvested from the Sonoran desert. In addition to providing perhaps the most nutrition of any commercially available vegetable powder, each of these valuable food and medicinal plants uses a different strategy to become a “perennial.”
Moringa leaves are considered nature’s multivitamin, providing seven times the vitamin C of oranges, four times the calcium of milk, four times the beta-carotene of carrots, three times the potassium of bananas and two times the protein of yogurt per 100 grams. (Please note: Although moringa leaves have amazing health benefits, animal studies have shown that they can negatively affect conception and pregnancy. For these reasons, we recommend that women trying to get pregnant or who are pregnant avoid consuming moringa leaves.)
Tree collards, which are in the brassicas family (cabbage, broccoli, etc.), are loaded with usable calcium and anthocyanins, which are used by the plant for its own defense.
The third member of our perennial-greens family is Gynura procumbens, otherwise known as “Okinawan spinach.” The gynura leaves are not only very nutritious, but they also have strong anti-diabetic properties.
The final member of our Perennial Greens Powder blend is Malabar spinach. Malabar is the most tender member of this group. While perhaps not the true definition of a perennial plant, the strategy Malabar uses to become “immortal” is to put its life energy into seeds and self-seed itself. This past summer we were treated to a luxurious growth of what can only be described as a hedge-row of Malabar. The Malabar leaves in our blend are loaded with health-giving fiber, mucilage and chlorophyll.
Plants are living beings, each with their own strategies to survive and flourish. By observing the four members of our Perennial Greens Powder, we can find more to explore and understand even in the winter garden, and can come to a renewed appreciation of the creativity and ingenuity of the plant world.
I was introduced to the “threefold” concept when I discovered Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy while in the Peace Corps in South Africa. Steiner was, among other things, a scholar on Goethe, one of the foremost thinkers and philosophers in the western world.
I was surprised to learn in my early 20s that Goethe counted as his greatest achievement the “discovery” of the Urpflanze, or the imaginary perfect plant. Goethe wrote a book called The Urpflanze, in which he describes that through intense contemplation and observation, he perceived that the ideal plant (which doesn’t actually exist) consists of three equal parts or “spheres”: the root, the stem/leaf, and the flower/fruit. He said that if you could truly understand this imaginary plant, you would understand the entire natural world. Here is what I think he meant by this. If you picture this perfect and non-existent plant with its three equal realms, you begin to easily grasp that each realm has certain properties. For example, being green is almost entirely confined to the leaf/stem realm. Having color, smell and insect attractiveness is clearly a function of the flower/fruit realm, and concentrating minerals and salts while sensing its local environment is a property that belongs to the roots. Also, roots grow like a sphere, in contrast to the more spear-like shape of the leaves. The importance of this threefold concept lies in the understanding that no such “perfect” plant exists, and that each individual plant is its own variation on this threefold theme. For example, the color of the plant “belongs” in the flower/fruit realm. Yet in the carrot, the plant has “decided” to put its color into the root sphere. It’s as if the carrot is saying, “I’m all root.”
This anomaly allows you to predict two things: first, the color of the carrot flower will be colorless (or white) because all the plant’s attention to color has been sucked down into the root. Second, you can predict that carrots will be important nourishment for the nervous system, or head sphere, of the human being. This notion is well known in conventional science as carrots, with their high carotenoid content, are considered food for the eyes.
Steiner expands on this threefold concept by pointing out that the human being, seen properly, is an upside-down plant, with its spherical head sensing the world, and its warmth region (the metabolic and reproductive organs) existing below the diaphragm. In between lie the heart and lungs, corresponding to the breathing organ of the plant, the leaves, and the circulatory organ, the stem. From these simple pictures, a new view of nature, medicine and nutrition emerges.
I could give hundreds more example of how this threefold concept gives us valuable insights into nutrition, medicine and plants. For example, digitalis leaves and stems are used to treat heart and circulatory conditions, chamomile flowers treat digestive disturbances such as the tummy aches of young children, yarrow-flower compresses are used for stagnant liver conditions, and eating green leaves is widely known to help with breathing conditions.
Human beings’ most efficient way to consume these essential minerals is by eating plants. We can’t use nitrogen to support our heart/lung sphere. But we do use the nutrients in leaves for exactly this purpose. Therefore, to nourish the entire human being, we need to eat daily from the three parts of the plant – root/leaf/flower-fruit.
The kale plant is no newcomer to the human diet. Most of the common cultivars of kale we grow in our gardens or find in farmers markets originate from Russia or Eastern Europe, typically in very cold climates. My favorite kale is a type called dwarf Siberian kale, which, as the name suggests, originates from Siberia. It is known to have been in continuous cultivation at least a few hundred years and possibly much longer. While the kale craze might be fairly new, the kale plant is an old friend in the human diet.
Modern research identifies numerous phytonutrients in kale that function as important anti-oxidants and disease-prevention agents. Perhaps the most important is the sulfur-containing nutrient called sulforaphane, an important component of our overall detoxification systems.
Without the all-important sulfur component in our diet, we cannot detoxify properly, cholesterol becomes toxic instead of a valuable raw material for producing strong membranes and hormones, and we become unable to produce the essential sulfur-containing amino acids. In short, without sulfur in our diet, our overall health suffers dramatically. Kale, like many others in the brassicas family (horseradish, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc.), is among the richest sources of sulfur in our diets.
Finally, and this is the key to the riddle of the mix of frost hardiness of kale and its health benefits, plants are stressed by many things — in particular, by cold exposure. For the kale plants to withstand this stress, it produces abundant supplies of these valuable sugars and phytonutrients that act like anti-freeze for the plant. Luckily for us, we can come along and eat these abundant sugars and phytonutrients and, hopefully, at the same time say a brief thank you to this amazing plant.
+ To learn more about Dr. Cowan, read our interview with him here.
Lead GIF by Jessie Weiner.