Conservation News

Green Tea: Skip the Emergen-C and Drink Tea

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Out for a long backpacking trip and forgot your daily dose of multivitamins? If you’re out for a long time without fruit and vegetables, you could become vitamin C deficient or even get scurvy.

Get your RDA of vitamin C from the woods. Simply snip a bunch of needles from the nearest pine tree, add a few chips of pine bark, toss them in a small pot of water, and fire up your camp stove. Simmer–don’t boil. Let it sit for a while for maximum benefit, up to two hours. Add sugar or honey to taste.

The resulting brew will be a light yellowish vitamin C cocktail. It saved Jacques Cartier and his crew that hadn’t already died from scurvy when he was “discovering” Canada—Quebecois Indians steeped him a pot. The pine needles contain the vitamin C, and the bark has flavonoids which help the body absorb the vitamin. Chose white cedar or white pine, though red pine can do in a pinch (white pine has bunches of five needles, red pine has bunches of three).

But why wait until you next go backpacking? Start 2009 by recycling and reusing. Snip a few needles of your pine Christmas Tree or Chanukah Bush and make yourself a healthful holiday nog.

—Berne Broudy

The Natural Path