One of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh produce. Here in the city, there is a farmer’s market to be found every day of the week. In fact, I was making a quick stop at the art supplies store mid-week, and bumped into a bustling market right there in the parking lot. I parked the Tail Wagon and wandered over, curious what I might find this week to add to Rupert’s meals. I roamed from vendor to vendor, eyeing their wooden boxes loaded with leafy greens and berries and radishes and garlic scapes and… and my eyes fell upon clear bags of fresh, damp, fat little Purslane leaves. Bunches of them.
Portulaca oleracea is a succulent that grows wild all over the city – in yards, in parks, in cracks in the sidewalk, even bursting where it sees an opportunity in the pavement. Though we can’t eat it from the roadside or from city soil loaded with heavy metals, its plump little leaves are easily recognizable. Nutritionally, it’s quite a little powerhouse. Known mostly for being so high in omegas, it also contains beta carotene, alpha-linolenic acid, vitamins C and E, alpha tocopherols, magnesium, and potassium.
Energetically, it is a very cooling herb (a refrigerant), making it ideal for a hot week in the life of a dog happiest when there’s snow up to the windows. Herbally, it is used to dispel heat conditions and is especially soothing to skin inflammation such as hot spots or other types of hot dermatitis (mash up some leaves and apply as a poultice right against the skin).
Many raw feeders choose a prey-model diet (animals only), but I like to add plant sources to my dog’s food (pureed or steamed is best), more in the manner of Billinghurst’s BARF model; not only because I’m an herbalist, but because I see him nibbling on plants while we’re in the woods, and I believe that they offer a great source of nutrients for dogs. Although I feed raw meat, I do cook the vegetables and herbs in order to break down the outer cellulose, making them more bioavailable, but also to extract the medicinal constituents of the roots and herbs in that week’s brew. Anyway… Purslane. Yes. This week, with temps heading back up to the 90s, its what’s for dinner.
Rupert’s not particularly thrilled about it, but I am.