Indigenous Foods and Medicine with Friends!

As promised, last week 573 Magazine took a little country drive out to Peaceful Bend Winery in Steelville, Missouri. We met up with our friend, Colleen Smith to catch her groovy and very informative event, Indigenous Foods and Medicine, and ended up finding much more than we expected.

Peaceful Bend Winery is a wonderful little hidden treasure of the Ozarks. Tucked deep in the rolling hills of the Steelville countryside, if it wasn’t for the packed parking lot, you’d think you were a million miles away from the rest of the world (or stepped back in time by 50 years!) Overlooking the Meramec River’s iconic Peaceful Bend area and the hills and forests that surround it, but only minutes away from I-44, Peaceful Bend Winery is the perfect location for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustling chaos of the modern big city to unwind without having to travel too far away.

The place was surreal. We pulled up to a full gravel parking lot, almost wondering if we were in the right place. Besides the many cars that obviously belonged to patrons, it almost looked like a homestead straight out of a Little House on the Prairie book. A little log cabin sat on a hill overlooking the lot and a little workshop that sat opposite to the Winery. A large tree laid in front of the shop, partially cut up, and a couple of small children climbed and played all over the pieces of trunk.

...extraordinary artwork...

The entrance was lovely. Double wooden doors with etched windows depicting scenes of harvest and beautiful clumps of grapes. After admiring the extraordinary artwork, when you enter, your eye is drawn to the other set of double doors that lead out to the terrace. Etched in those windows are the house and barn that once stood on the property years before. A stunning commemoration of the grounds’ architectural history.

We spotted Colleen right away, and just in time for a super cool demonstration on local indigenous superfoods you can find right here in the 573 and how to use them for their amazing health benefits.

Colleen: So this is slippery elm, or Ulmus fulva. It’s really supportive to our digestive system, our respiratory tract, and topically it’s moisturizing just like aloe. I call it the Ozark Aloe, because if you open this jar you would find that it’s like really mucilaginous. So that coats topically (externally) and internally.

This (below) is a damiana infused in a white wine. The damiana is an aphrodisiac that works on the nervous system, so it’s calming and kind of puts people in “the mood.” You let it sit in the white wine for three days, strain it out, and enjoy a glass of wine with your loved one or just to kind of relax at night.

Damiana grows south of here more. There’s a lot in Texas and Mexico.

This one is garlic, also infused in white wine.

Chop up your garlic and smush it and let it sit out in the white wine overnight. The allicin constituent actually multiplies, making it more anti-bacterial. This then can be used in a stir-fry, or poured over your turkey, anything like that, that you would use garlic in. It just has the nice flavor of the dry white wine.

Ozark superfoods...helps over 60 different ailments!

I also have some Maitake dried mushrooms (Grifola frondosa), it’s one of our Ozark superfoods. They grow mostly around oak trees. They can be added to water and made into a medicinal broth for any soup. So I’m kind of promoting that right now. As one of our Ozark superfoods, this helps over 60 different ailments! A lot of people who have cancer are using it and finding results both with and without chemo therapy. So, it actually is sending our bodies information at a cellular level to heal and help our immune system.

573 Magazine: Colleen, tell us a little more about you and your family.

Above images from Ozark Harvest (Nov. 2015) & Outdoor Art Show (June 2021)

Colleen: Yeah! My husband is a potter, and he’s a Wyandotte Native American. I also have three lovely daughters. Ocarina (15), Violet (11), and Leonora (8). We lived nestled in the Ozarks in an old schoolhouse down by the creek. Lol. We’re building an offgrid home, it’s taking some time, but we are building an offgrid home and creating a botanical sanctuary on our family’s land.

573 Magazine: So how long have you been doing this?