Principle of Threefold Plant

The archetype of a plant is visible in its threefold structure: root, stem with leaves, and blossom which metamorphoses into fruit and seeds. In accordance with this archetype we have three main groups of plant foods, each with their own specific characteristics. One group is comprised of roots, another is comprised of leaves and stems, and the last is comprised of flowers, fruits, and seeds. When preparing a dish or a meal we always aim to use vegetables and fruit from all three groups.

THREE BASIC GROUPS

All foods that come from the plants – with the few exceptions explained in the texts referred below – can be divided into three basic groups presented with the following symbols:

Lower part Middle parts Upper parts
Roots
Beetroot
Carrot
Celeriac
Turnip
etc.
Stems [1]
Celery
Fennel
etc.
Leaves
Lettuce
Kale
Cabbage, etc.
Flowers
Elderflower, etc.
Fruits
Cherries
Sweet Red Pepper
Squash, etc.
Seeds
Beans
Nuts, etc.

For an enlarged list of the vegetables divided into these groups
see THREE GROUPS OF VEGETABLES

The specific quality of cultivated plants is in their one-sidedness: carrot is one-sided root, lettuce is one-sided leaf; rhubarb is one-sided stem; pumpkin is one-sided fruit part of the plant; apple is one-sided fruit and so on. There are a few exceptions, like celery where we use its root, its stem and leaves and even its seeds. [2] But even in this case we usually do not use them in the same dish or meal, but we use either roots or stems or seeds for seasoning. Thus we can see that most of the cultivated fruit and vegetables are one-sided foods. For that very reason we try to balance them when we design a meal. The only exception is the grains which are not taken into account when we combine plant ingredients according to this principle.

For an explanation why grains are an exception
see ARCHETYPE OF A GRAIN

Although there is a difference between the fruit parts of vegetable plants (courgette, tomato, pumpkin, etc.) and proper fruits (apple, peach, cherry, etc.), they both develop from the flower part of a plant. There is also a nutritional difference between pulses (beans, lentils, etc) which contain more proteins and seeds (sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, etc) and nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, etc) which contain more fats. In spite of this we count all of them in the Flower–Fruit–Seed group when we compose a meal according to the principle of the threefold plant. Of course, we can try if possible to use fruit and vegetables from all these groups in a single meal. It is an option but not a necessity!

THE MAIN PRINCIPLE OF BALANCING

The basis of this principle is the archetype of the plant developed by Goethe. The aim of this principle is to create from the various parts of the different plants a whole new plant. As the proper plants are consisting of Root, Stem or Leaf, and Flower or Fruit or Seed, so it is needed also for our creations. [3] For example, using carrots, spinach, and pumpkin in a one-pot dish (or in the various dishes of the same meal) we have created a new ‘plant’ with:

We see that this principle is applicable in the case when we cook with fresh vegetables and fruit. Of course, this doesn't exclude the use of processed vegetables and fruit, such as tomato puree, or apricot jam, when we have product made from a single main ingredient. The products which contain all three groups might be more convenient, but their use doesn't stimulate our creativity!

Another way of creating a threefold plant is with the use of oils (made from the seeds or fruit) and dried herbs and spices (counted as the Root part because they have, in the process of growing or drying, 'hardened' into fibrous substance full of minerals). Salt is also counted as Root part, because it belongs to the mineral kingdom in which the roots of plants grow. What is common to salts, dried herbs, spices, and roots is that they are all rich sources of minerals.

For example, we can create a simple balanced dish with:

CREATING A WHOLE MEAL WITH THIS APPROACH

When you cook a meal with more than one dish you strive to have all main parts of the plant in the whole meal. For example, beside the grain dish we can prepare:

In this way we create a threefold 'plant' inside the whole meal.

For preliminary help in composing whole meals
see EXAMPLES OF BALANCED MEALS

When you have mastered the use of this principle presented here so that it became part of your cooking 'habit' then you can – if you wish – go to the next, more advanced level of the use of the principle of the threefold plant. 

 See the FURTHER STAGE OF THREEFOLD PRINCIPLE

NOTES

  1. Stems belong to the group of leaves only if they are still green or white (as it is in fennel). If they get fibrous and brownish then they turn into the inedible roots.
  2. Even in this case the growers use different varieties for growing celeriac (root) and for growing celery (stems).
  3. In principle, people can combine ingredients as they like. However, these guidelines are made for those who want to learn how to create balanced meals according to the principle of the threefold plant. The reasons why are explained in BALANCING WITH THE THREEFOLD PLANT.
  4. Natural salt is either unrefined sea salt, or crystal salt without the addition of iodine and anti-caking agent.