About the Deer Nation

IMG_0344Deer Nation Herbs was established by Iowa herbalist, organic farmer, and freelance health, wellness, food, and nutrition writer Adrian White in 2013.  It began from a simple desire for a resource on herbal lore throughout Iowa, and to cultivate stronger healing traditions in the state and region.

Since then, it has expanded into much more.  Deer Nation desires to connect the world of herbalism, botanical medicine, wild-crafting and wild edibles into to the slow and local food movements, as well the worlds of organic agriculture, gardening, health, wellness, nutrition, and “Food as Medicine.”

After all, the separate movements of herbalism and organic food both contain the very same manifesto: to get us back in touch with the pure, unadulterated plant foods that once protected us from greater illnesses and disease, and to put our care back into our own hands.

IMG_1466Herbalist and writer Adrian White, through Deer Nation, publishes periodical and informational articles, recipes, and guides on various healing plants, foods, recipes, and methods for D.I.Y. at-home self care: such as cold-and-flu care, or nutrient-rich herbs and foods.

She operates and stocks her own 2nd-story loft apothecary full of infused oils, tinctures, extracts, salves, syrups, and tea blends, made from plants and fungi ranging from Lemon Balm and Valerian, to Chaga mushroom and Ginseng- all personally foraged and harvested in small amounts for personal use, and sharing with clients.

As an organic farmer of 6 years, she has grown and produced vegetables for Iowa City restaurant Clinton Street Social Club, ran local Iowa City farm Echollective’s CSA program as an administrator, as well as the packing/processing facilities and working as Field Manager for over 3 years.  She is in the process of establishing, planning, and running a CSA that provides both organic food and healing herbs, with a focus on health and wellness to support the taste of delicious, local foods and botanical products.

kalebowlOrganic, local foods strive to bring us back to complete nutrition, nutrient density, and ecologically safe practices.  Herbalism, in turn, enhances health through the consumption of plants with marked health properties, researched by science and upheld by ancient tradition.

Together, they create a form of natural and self-empowering care, and one of the strongest tenets of integrated preventive medicine- an approach to health rapidly (and desperately) being implemented today.  In the face of major diseases in the U.S. and Western worlds, these predominant and fast-spreading ailments can ONLY be combated by food choices and diet, while modern medicine only seeks to remedy the epidemic after-the-fact.  Such examples include heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, the leading causes of death and illness.

IMG_1546Deer Nation’s intent is to educate on and represent local, wild, organic, local, and whole foods and herbs, mostly plant-based, but yes- sometimes animal-based.  All intentions are to spread the idea of regaining health through food and herbs, when one can, and to remind that it is possible and attainable by anyone.

Healing, nutrition, ecological sustainability, and wellness- in their most reliable and purest forms- emerge strongly in the knowledge and incorporation of both organic foods and herbalism, the very heart and soul of Deer Nation.

Articles, educational health consultations, and sometimes products or custom formulas are offered.

Feel free to contact herbalist Adrian White: deernationherbs@gmail.com

“Let Food be thy Medicine….and Medicine be thy Food.”  -Hippocrates

IMG_1561

I first stumbled upon the term “Deer Nation” leafing through well-known herbalist Matthew Wood’s acclaimed book, The Book of Herbal Wisdom, while in the midst of completing my studies as an herbalist’s apprentice.

The juxtaposition of these two words seemed to leap out from the page, somehow combing themselves together very beautifully.  I guess you could say they leaped out at my subconscious, just like a pair of deer themselves.

A Mdewakantan Dakota woman Wood was treating, and with whom he mentioned in his book, passed this term on to him as a formal title for all deer: their name as a complete species, as if they are a collective society, a tribe.  No doubt in my mind they are.

Wood references the term Deer Nation later in the book, stating that some herbs are specifically endorsed by the Deer Nation.  His meaning is very simple: these are herbs that deer like, of which deer are often seen favoring and feeding on in the wild, and very arguably for their own medicinal purposes.

The concept of the Deer Nation can develop further along those lines, if one delves into Matthew Wood’s phyla of Native Medicine and a grouping of herbs called “Deer Medicines.”   Specificity and origin of this herbal medicine classification system is unknown by me as to which tribe or nation from which it may originate; there is a chance that this is simply a classification method Wood developed on his own, inspired by native practices, but don’t quote me on that, and I am sadly not a person to ask.

IMG_0701There are Wolf Medicines, Bear Medicines, and Snake Medicines, among others.  The classification of medicines in this system known as Deer Medicines have signatures reminiscent to the physical and behavioral characteristics of deer, while also being herbs and wild plants that deer have predilection for.  Thus, Deer Medicines are herbs used (and endorsed) by the Deer Nation, you could say.

In taking the term Deer Nation and applying it in part to the work I want to do, it serves as a reminder to me (and I hope, to everyone else) that everything we use is borrowed.  The plants and wildlife around us ultimately take care of themselves, as they have for so many hundreds of thousands of years, without our help and regardless of our hindrances on them.

As herbal medicine is beginning to gain popularity, people are going to start buying “Cold Care teas”, Triple Echinacea, Black Cohosh capsules, or Goldenseal Root without even thinking twice about where it came from, and probably right off the Walmart shelf pretty soon….maybe even already.  A lot of these “hit” herbs are, ironically, endangered; while for the most part, you can attribute that to the high demand that has been placed upon them as medicine now and throughout history.

Plants don’t just belong to us all of a sudden, as if they are now newly responsible for our health: a freshly discovered medicine cabinet just sitting there in the wild, ripe for the picking.  We can’t just think of our health, only to forget the health of the plants themselves.  We need to think of where they come from, where they grow, and we can’t forget the other Nations that may use or depend upon them.  We also can’t forget that they are their own Nations, their own populations of living things, in their own right.

Deer Nation is a reminder to me that the plants I use are no more so my own than they are for the deer that wander through the fields outside my window.  In fact, one could argue that the deer are much more deserving of nature’s medicines than I could ever hope to be.

IMG_0662Lastly, if the overlooked state of Iowa where I live could be called anything in terms of its representative wildlife, Iowa is most certainly the Deer Nation.  Deer are next at the top of the food chain among land mammals here, second only to us human beings here in Iowa.  Deer are a widespread pride of this state, no doubt the most populous denizens of our wilderness. If there’s anyone left looking after and deserving of the small wealth of plant medicines we have remaining here in the last oak savannahs, tallgrass prairies and woodlands of Iowa, it would be the Deer Nation.

What better representative, or you could say “mascot,” may be found in Iowa to speak for plant lore, other than in the Deer Nation?

….thank you in advance for following Deer Nation Herbs.

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