Every day we use all parts of plants for our diet, often without realizing it. Flowers are the most uncommon such part, and the major discussions regarding cultivating them revolve around two reasons: beauty and nutrition. Although edible flowers are trendy in modern gourmet cuisine, Greeks were eating flowers for thousands of years. Mint flowers, rose petals, lavender, and chamomile were delicacies of Greece’s natural environment and gave a full perception of the maxim ‘nous ygieis en somati ygiei,’ meaning “healthy mind in a healthy body,” that is to say, a healthy body can sustain a healthy mind.
Even though springtime is the best season to start discovering the great variety of edible flowers, the internationality of markets can help you find whatever you want, whenever you want it. Of course, supporting local and seasonal food is both better for your pocket, your health, and your community. So, starting with your garden of pots of plants, your house can offer you a variety of flowers next Spring.
Start with easy-to-grow lavender, roses, thyme, basil, sage and later you can continue with nasturtiums, pansies, calendula, borage, sambucus, violet, hyssops. If you do-your-research, you can find many more – you will find that most of them are also in the category of aromatic and/or medicinal plants. And this is not irrelevant. The basic reason for consuming flowers is their ‘healthy boost’ in your body. Flowers are made from plants to attract pollinators. Plants put their best effort into creating their ‘future generation,’ the flowers which are going to transform into fruit with seeds, after pollination. They are putting in extra power as antioxidants and other biologically active substances including vitamin A, C, riboflavins, niacin, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, iron, and potassium that are eventually beneficial to consumers' health.
Follow the general rule for all plants: eat fresh daily or preserve fresh in deep frost. In Spring you can eat fresh and in the rest of the seasons you can preserve freshness by freezing them. So, get ready and prepare your ‘production’ in Spring!
* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.
Evropi-Sofia Dalampira is an Agriculturist-MSc Botany-Biology and PhD Candidate in Agricultural-Environmental Education and Science Communication