Dandelions: A weed or a new cash crop?

 Photo by Cara Gold.

Sustainable eating, which supports individual health and the environment, is becoming an increasing concern for many.  Discovering new uses for common edible plants which are right outside your door, can be a great way to save money and reduce your carbon footprint.  As you explore, you can have a great time too!

Dandelions are often seen as weeds; however they can serve to benefit us in many other ways.  Young leaves may be used as greens in salads and their large tap root is important to farmers as it brings many nutrients closer to the surface of the soil.  These roots can also be used to make a delicious cup of dandelion coffee!  This fragrant treat has an appealing coffee like aroma and can be served warm or iced. Demand is growing and some farmers have even begun to farm dandelions as a cash crop for use as both a coffee substitute and for latex.

To make your own dandelion coffee, just follow these steps:

1)    Find a location with many large dandelions (a field is ideal, backyard dandelions often do not have large enough roots)

2)    Dig up the largest roots (one large bowl will make about 14 cups of coffee)

3)    Scrub the roots until all dirt is removed (alternatively, you may want to peel them)

4)    Cut the roots into small pieces and roast at 200 degrees for ~2 hours or until dry

5)    Grind roots in food processor or coffee grinder

6)    Prepare as coffee.

If you need the caffeine fix, try mixing dandelion coffee grounds with your regular coffee.  For more recipes using dandelions, including chai tea and ice-cream, visit