If you are like me you probably don't even take anything you watch serious. And why? Well unfortunately there is an agenda in much of anything media produced, and well those who desire to pollute their desired agenda upon the masses will use their money to do it at all cost. Sean Penn who both directed and produced this horrible version of the story of Christopher McCandless whose sad life ended do to starvation, desired to pervert the idea that eating wild edibles was the real cause of his young ended life. And well according to this lame movie the bad guy of the story was Mr. Wild Sweet Pea (Hedysarum mackenzii). Why oh why does the public have to continually get feed garbage instead of the truth? The whole focal point is they want to demonize wild edibles so as to no allow people to think "their is gold to be found in them woods."
So how did this all come about? Well according to Wikipedia "On July 30, McCandless wrote a journal entry which read, "Extremely Weak. Fault Of Pot[ato] Seed" Based on this entry, Krakauer hypothesized that McCandless had been eating what he thought was the roots of an edible plant, Hedysarum alpinum, commonly known as wild Eskimo potato, which are sweet and nourishing in the spring but later become too tough to eat. When this happened, McCandless may have attempted to eat the seeds instead. Krakauer first speculated that the seeds were actually from Hedysarum mackenzii, or wild sweet pea, instead of the Eskimo Potato, which contained a poisonous alkaliod, possibly swainsonine (the toxic chemical in locoweed) or something similar. In addition to neurological symptoms, such as weakness and loss of coordination, the poison causes starvation by blocking nutrient metabolism in the body." And well this false idea went raging mad all over thanks to his stupid 1996 book "Into the Wild" which reported this non-factual idea.
But special thanks to Edward M. Treadwell and Thomas P. Clausen who did a study at the Ethnobotany Research and Applications and wrote in their research their wonderful findings, which finally discredited the stupid lie Krakauer who began his version in 1996 and Sean Penn promoted his version in 2007 was finally laid to rest in 2008.
Ethnobotany Research and Applications
Hedysarum mackenzii (wild sweet pea, bear root) is widely regarded as toxic and warnings about confusing it with its edible cousin H. alpinum (Eskimo potato) abound. To find the chemical basis for this claim, we performed an exhaustive comparison of the secondary chemistry between the two plants as well as a search for nitrogen containing metabolites (alkaloids) in both species. No chemical basis for toxicity could be found. These results were consistent with a subsequent cytotoxic assay performed on an extract of H. mackenzii. Finally, a critical examination of the literature could find no credible evidence that H. mackenzii is toxic in spite of these widespread rumors.
What is even sadder is how Sean Penn went about this by falsifying and completely altering reality as he portrayed to the public a book entry which never actually existed in the first place. And we can give thanks to Samuel Thayer for this information as he records in his book Natures Garden pg 43-60
Natures Garden By Samuel Thayer
Tanaina Plantlore (Kari 1987)
The book live found in the movie Into the Wild "The lateral veins, nearly invisible on leaflets of wild sweet pea plants poisonous seedlings. If ingested symptoms include partial motor paralysis, inhibition of digestion, and nausea. If untreated leads to starvation and death. Another way to distinguish is that the stem of the wild sweet pea is mostly unbranched."
The actual book "Tanaina Plantlore (Kari 1987)" page 128 says
"The lateral veins of the leaflets of wild sweet pea are hidden, while those of the wild potato are conspicuous. Another way to distinguish between the two plants is that the stem of the wild sweet pea is mostly unbranched, while that of wild potato is definitely branched."
If your like me you can't help but want to see the actual source I went to my local library and searched for it. And here it is.
Why was this plant ever thought to be toxic? Well in the report from Edward M. Treadwell and Thomas P. Clausen findings they went back into the deep archives to bring to light how this false conclusion ever got started in the first place in saying;
"Statements of H. mackenziei’s toxicity can be traced back to a journal entry by Sir John Richardson of his exploration of the Alaskan interior in the early 1800’s. According to Richardson, H. mackenziei tubers were included in a stew for dinner one night, and the next morning the expedition was so ill that no progress could be made. A published version of this journal is available in University of Alaska’s Rasmunsen library (Houston 1984), and in it the incident is reported, as well as other episodes where the Richardson party included ledum and cranberries in their meals (both of which are known to cause sickness if consumed in large quantities). Even more disturbing, there are descriptions of the party feeding on lichens, leather, rotten meat, warble-fly dung, and fish entails dug up days after the original meal of fish. The party was not well-prepared for boreal exploration, and were often at the point of starvation, and thus any claim of “poisoning” by Richardson is circumspect, to say the least." (Is Hedysarum mackenziei (Wild Sweet Pea) Actually Toxic? by Edward M. Treadwell and Thomas P. Clausen 2008)
So there you have it people don't always believe what you see and hear let the research prove what is and what really isn't.
Avi Ben Shalom: