Monday, August 3, 2009

What Does a Weed Have to Do With Questioning What You Think You Know?

Kudzu on trees in Atlanta, Georgia, USA Locati...Kudzu weeds smothering 100 foot trees and taking over a drainage ditch by railroad tracks in downtown Atlanta on Piedmont Road - Image via Wikipedia

From Denny: Emerson lived in the early 19th century. He was a great writer from whom today we pull a lot of equally great quotes. Emerson was also a minister, not a finger-pointer of faults and tongue-wagging fear-mongerer, but a man who sought to teach people to think clearly and critically. That's why his words are still so valuable 180 years later! Some concepts are eternal, and, as they say on the web, evergreen. :)

Emerson was one deep thinker and constantly pulled metaphors for our lives from his surroundings of Nature. How many times when you go to mow your beautiful perfect lawn have you discovered an ugly weed sticking up and out of character for "the green neighborhood"?

Emerson talks about weeds in this quote as having worth. What? What weeds have worth? Well, I can think of one example. Back in the 1930's kudzu was brought from China to America to feed cattle during the Great Depression. You see, kudzu can grow during the summer up to one or more feet a day, yes, a DAY! It is one fast-growing healthy ancient vine.

That was great back in the 1930's but eventually those family farms were abandoned or sold and no longer farmed. Yes, you guessed it, the kudzu kept growing and growing and growing! When I lived in Atlanta you would see it on abandoned city lots downtown, growing over street lights and creeping and running along high electrical lines and back down again on the telephone poles and over to a large tree to smother that too. Unbelievable. So, now what?

Turns out America became aware of a new herbicide back in the 1980's, 50 years later after the kudzu invasion, called Roundup. Well, I got news for you, it works for the short term but the kudzu wins anyway! OK, again, "So, now what?"

By the 1990's it was learned that the Japanese prize kudzu for its roots. What do they do with it? They harvest the roots and make their version of a food thickener like our own cornstarch. Pretty cool, huh?! :)

So, here you thought kudzu was useless as just some weed when it has beneficial food value! Bet you will never look at a weed the same again! :) Even Emerson soon realized the conventional thought about weeds is not always accurate - and to make sure you question everything you think you know.


"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not been discovered." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanks for visiting this Monday! Have a great work week!

America quotes, gardening, life, minister, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Society and Culture, weeds, 19th century, Great Depression, World Literature, Arts, China, Literature, Atlanta

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