X158: X is for Flax

This adorable little seed goes into my oatmeal, my salads and many (if not most) of my soups and stir fry. I buy it in bulk and fill up a spice shaker.

I think I first discovered some years ago when I read about keeping my digestive system cleaned out. These little seeds are fiber and it made sense in a visceral way to picture them as little ‘scrubbers’ for my intestinal walls.

Only later did I get into the fact that flax is a good source of Omega 3 oils. When I started avoiding seafood – due to mercury issues, over-fishing, etc. – I decided flax was a good substitute to seafood. This conceptmay or may not be true. I know that I am now taking Michael Pollan’s advice. From Boing Boing Pollan's
In Defense of Food is a fascinating treatise on eating and food, taking as its central tenet, "Eat food, mostly plants, not too much," and cutting through all the "nutritionism" science that proposes to feed us on individual molecules instead of whole food. Link

This is such refreshing news. We don’t have to be chemists.

A neighbor asked me recently to search the internet for online courses he could take for some kind of nutritionist certification. After searching for a bit I realized I couldn’t help him. I just couldn’t get behind this older guy spending money to be a part of the big lie of the American food industry. I do think the educational component is complicit or this nonsense would have been exposed decades ago.

Back to flax. . . This may sound dumb, but I love the fax seed because it is so iconic. I looks like what a seed should look like in a dictionary or something. It is the perfect shape and size for what my brain pictures when the word seed is spoken or read. Now that’s just crazy talk.

Chile Chews is a gold mine of information about flax. Anyone who reads Chile knows. But, for those who don’t I want to spell out the clear direction she gives daily.

As I've mentioned before, I use flax in place of eggs in my vegan baking and even in homemade pasta. To make flax seed "eggs", I just grind 1/3 cup of flax seeds in the blender until pulverized, add 1 cup of water and blend on high speed until the mixture thickens. Doing this in the hand-cranked Vortex blender is a great arm workout! Three tablespoons of this glop in place of each egg works wonderfully in pancakes, muffins, cookies, and quick breads. It keeps about a week in the refrigerator in a jar.

Thanks Chile, for this link and this and this Missouri based link for flax growing, harvesting, milling and use. This is an incredibly versatile plant. It reminds me of Amaranth, Hemp and Mesquite, to name a few plants used for centuries and for a host of different uses.

But, as a design person I just want to give a shout for linseed oil, made from flax, from which linoleum, paints and other products historically central to the design and art community. I wonder if the Sam Flax Art Stores or simply Flax in San Francisco have some name connection to this humble seed?

Add to that the fabric makers, oh where are all of these skilled artisans when we need them? This flax plant is what linen is made of and has been used for thousands of years.

Right now my flax supply is not local. I think I will plant flax as well as the borrage seeds I am getting from Greenbean this week outside my fence along the road. I just stained the park fence yesterday in green. I think these naturally blue, edible flowers / plants will be perfect here.

I just need to clear the pine needles I let pile up for a season. I think I will also plant red snap beans as these are growing like crazy in my raised bed.

A whole parking area of edible flowers and plants sounds like a plan.


Rosa said...

A patch of flax is beautiful all summer, with those little blue flowers seeming to float over a patch of grass. We don't have room where we are now, but I've grown flax in a bed about 5x5 and it made me want a whole field.

Flax was also the crop that allowed settlers to make a go of it in the Midwest. Europeans and immigrants from the east coast would plow up the prairie and get in one or two flax crops before the rusts & blights that attack flax caught up with them. They could usually make enough money to get through to the five year mark and claim their homesteads - homesteaders who got already-broken ground were much less likely to make it, because no other crop had the same cash return. Most of those later homesteaders lost their land to speculators. Those rows and rows of family-farm bean fields that are underwater in Iowa & Missouri right now, are there because of flax.

katecontinued said...

I am from the Midwest and I didn't know that, Rosa.

I have family in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. I keep thinking about all of the animal poop and chemical stew that is floating across the land and down the Mississippi into the Gulf. This is not good.

Chile said...

Woohoo, another flax fan!

I was really disappointed that the flax seeds my sweetie planted in the garden never germinated. He filled a long thin strip with seeds, hoping to grow quite a few.

Man, I wish I was near you to snag up those pine needles. They work really well as mulch here!

katecontinued said...

I just wish you could be out of Arizona my internet friend. The heat . . .

Kim from Milwaukee said...

Ah, flax is a lovely food. It's a powerful cancer fighter as well. I love it in my oatmeal or muesli, and smoothies, too.

Is it possible to just plant the flax seeds as they are, or would I have to sprout them first? Hmm, would they even grow in the city? *pleasepleasepleaseplease*

katecontinued said...

Kim, I am having no luck googling about planting my seeds. My approach will be to just try it. There is nothing to lose but a few pennies worth of seeds. Damn the rules, right?