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Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants Paperback – April 1, 2010
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More About the Author
Since 2000, when he won the Hazel Wood National Wild Foods Cooking Contest, Sam has been teaching regularly on edible wild plants, giving workshops across the United States. In 2002 he was inducted into the National Wild Foods Hall of Fame at North Bend State Park in West Virginia. His first book, The Forager's Harvest, has won a Midwest Book Award, IPPY Book Award, and was a finalist for the USA Book News Best Books 2007 award. It has been a steady Amazon category best-seller and has sold more than 70,000 copies. His second book, Nature's Garden, has received similar acclaim and sold over 35,000 copies. He currently lives in the woods of northwestern Wisconsin with his wife, Melissa, their daughter, Myrica, and son, Joshua. Along with speaking and writing, he is also a maple syrup producer, wild rice harvester, and owns a small organic orchard.
Besides wild food foraging, Sam is an all-around naturalist with particular interest in reptiles, amphibians, bird watching, botany, and mammals. His passion for wild food extends to studying the origin of cultivated plants and the socio-economic history of the human diet.
Top Customer Reviews
When I reviewed Thayer's first book, The Foragers Harvest, I wrote that it is as good or better than anything available on the topic. It has since become the go-to book for students at the Jack Mountain Bushcraft School. His new book, Nature's Garden, builds upon the high standard set by The Foragers Harvest and establishes him as the leading authority and author on edible wild plants that has ever published. It isn't slightly better than other books on the topic; it's in a whole different league.
The meat of the book is made up of plant accounts. These are in-depth profiles of edible plants, full of photos of how to identify, harvest and use them. The author bases all of his work on personal experience, so there aren't the usual falsehoods handed down by authors of lesser works. Instead, you get what works, along with anecdotal stories of how the author got to know the individual plants and how he's used them in the past. His writing style is conversational, and while there is a description for each plant that includes botanical terminology, the author writes it so as to make it accessible to the non-botanist. The numerous photos contribute greatly to aid the neophyte in identifying the individual species. The Harvest And Preparation section for each plant is where the author's experience really shines. Whereas the Peterson's Field Guide To Edible Wild Plants will list "starchy root" or similar descriptive term after a plant, Thayer has several pages of highly descriptive how-to information. To use a specific example, most books on edible plants have a sentence or two on acorns. Nature's Garden has 50 pages.Read more ›
A visual and informative treat that is hard to put down, its 512 pages are well illustrated with 415 color photos. Sam brings us fresh insights on 41 new plants. ("New" because the first book in Sam's series, The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants covered 32 other plants.) One of the great things about Sam's writing is that it is absolutely authentic, based on first-hand knowledge. For instance, every one of the 32 plants in TFH is one that Sam has eaten at least 50 times.
A second thing that distinguishes Sam's work from other authors is that Sam has a great curiosity. He doesn't hesitate to question edible wild plant claims made by other authors. He delves into research reports and studies, experiments on his own and keeps track of his findings like a scientist. His "Nature's Garden" account on acorns is 51 pages long, and contains information and a synthesis of material and insights that you'll not find anywhere else.
One of the plants included in NG is garlic mustard, which I had written off as an edible that wasn't to my liking. I've cooked and eaten the leaves, the flower buds, and the tuberous root. I've nibbled on the bitter, pungent seeds. In his chapter on garlic mustard, Sam writes that the young, succulent stalks, stripped of leaves before the plant blooms, are mild, sweet and juicy.Read more ›
The book is divided into two parts: The first 74 pages cover conceptual ideas such as where to forage, why eat wild foods, environmental considerations, plant identification, his take on the public perception of the dangerousness of plants, and his take on Chris McCandless' death (as portrayed in Jon Krakauer's book, "Into the Wild"). I particularly liked Sam's personal account of "One Month Eating Wild". His experience has a lot to teach those thinking about living off of wild foods; a common fantasy of us testosterone-poisoned males.
The last 304 pages cover plants, a chapter at a time. Sam provides useful detail on the foods generated from each plant. He covers plants that no one has really covered well before. His American lotus and black nightshade chapters were just fun for me to read, even as a seasoned professional. And I love the foods he's generated with acorns. His acorn chapter alone could be a small book at 51 pages.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is my second first choice to pack. If I have a partner they would have to pack one two books ... Read morePublished 23 hours ago by William H. Sudderth
Great Book! Has been wonderful in helping me find wild edibles for me and my Degus! Fast shipperPublished 4 days ago by Denise Bowman
I may not have understood the purpose of this book, but in the end, I didn't feel confident being able to go out and find things to eat in nature.Published 26 days ago by JC
This may not be a "Full" or "Comprehensive" guide to all wild edibles, but the one covered in the text have been thoroughly researched and/or eaten by Thayer. Read morePublished 1 month ago by LAM
Love the book - will be using it in future hiking excursions.Published 2 months ago by Susan Wonderling