One man's weed --- another man's dinner

Hayden resident finds nutrition in dandelions

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— For adventurous Routt County residents, finding greens for a dinner salad could be as easy as stepping outside to the front yard.

Just ask Hayden resident Carl Medvesk.

It may look as though Medvesk picks weeds from a grassy ditch along Fifth Street in Hayden, but the baby dandelion plants he harvests are for lunch, dinner and breakfast.

"It ain't no diet," Medvesk said. "It's food. I've been eating it all my life."

Medvesk said he has only about a three-week period each spring to pick the dandelions. After that, the plants flower and become too bitter and tough to eat.

He digs the dandelions out of the ground with a large knife and throws them into a strainer.

"People say, 'I won't eat it,'" Medvesk said. "Most people don't know anything about it."

After washing and soaking the plants, they begin to look a little more like something you might find in the produce section of your local grocery store.

People prepare dandelions in different ways, but Medvesk sticks to a simple salad with vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. He sometimes adds eggs or bacon.

"Boy, I love it," he said.

The 82-year-old grew up eating the plants, but not because his parents forced him to.

"This is from the old generation, I guess," he said. But he's passed it on to at least one subsequent generation -- his son comes over every morning to eat two large bowls of the plant.

Dandelion greens have similar nutritional values to spinach and other dark greens, said Karen Massey, a registered dietician and family and consumer sciences extension agent.

"Spring is the time to go foraging in your front yard for your dinner greens," Massey said.

There are many claims about the healing powers of dandelions. The Latin name for dandelion means "official remedy for disorders."

The United Sta-tes Depart-------ment of Agri-culture reports dandelions have high levels of fiber, beta-carotene and vitamins A and C.

"The beauty is, it's low in calories and has no fat," Massey said.

Some health-food stores carry dandelion supplements and dried greens that can be used to make teas.

Medvesk has a healthy cholesterol level of 158 and credits dandelions and general nutrition for his good health.

"I've never really been in the hospital," Medvesk said. "Hardly had a sick day in my life."

-- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210 or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com

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