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482 of 489 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It isn't slightly better than other books on the topic; it's in a whole different league.
These are not good times to put out a book on edible wild plants. Unless you're Samuel Thayer.

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...
Published on April 1, 2010 by Tim Smith

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50 of 69 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is REGION SPECIFIC
Unless you live in the north central USA - forget it. I've lived all along the east coast and throughout the southwest. I'm an avid outdoorsman and into wildcrafting & foraging. This book absolutely does not apply to other regions.
Published 24 months ago


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482 of 489 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It isn't slightly better than other books on the topic; it's in a whole different league., April 1, 2010
By 
Tim Smith (Masardis, Maine USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
These are not good times to put out a book on edible wild plants. Unless you're Samuel Thayer.

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.

Anyone who has read The Foragers Harvest would expect the Plant Accounts to be encyclopedic and accessible, full of great photos and useful information. On this point, they deliver. If the book contained just Plant Accounts it would still be a fantastic resource. But there's more to outdoor living and foraging than how-to, and in the first section of the book the author gives a snapshot into the mind of living with wild foods. With sections on getting started, the ethics of harvesting wild plants, conservation, personal experiences on a wild food diet and a harvest calendar, he provides those new to foraging a great jumping off point. In a section titled Some Thoughts On Wild Food, he offers useful advice such as don't make a wild plant fit the description in the book (which is a common pitfall), then expounds upon the myth of the instant expert. The last chapter of the section is titled "Poison Plant Fables", where he discusses the story of Christopher McCandless and how his demise in Alaska, chronicled in the book and movie Into The Wild, didn't occur as the famous author of his biography would have us believe. He didn't poison himself by eating the wrong plant. Rather, he starved to death. By pointing out the facts, though, he doesn't poke fun at McCandless like so many armchair survivalists like to do. Instead, he treats him with respect, saving his derision for the authors and movie producers for not telling the truth. The money quote from this section comes in a section titled "What Lessons About Wilderness Survival And Wild Food Can Be Drawn From The Story Of Chris McCandless?"

'In a short term survival situation, food is of minor importance. However, in long term survival or "living off the land", it is of paramount importance.'

Bushcraft continues to evolve for me away from skills and toward personal relationships with the land and people. While I've never met Samual Thayer, after reading this first section I feel that we're kindred spirits.

There isn't a better book on edible wild plants. Taken together with The Foragers Harvest, it is the last word on the topic in print. I don't think more can be learned from any book; to go beyond what Thayer has written, you have to be out there actively foraging.
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223 of 224 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Own!, April 8, 2010
By 
This review is from: Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
Whether you're a newbie or an experienced forager, you'll find this book fascinating and a must-own. I have over 200 books on edible wild plants, and this is far and away the best ever published.

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. He says that they are good in salads, snacked on raw, excellent boiled or steamed like asparagus, and that they add a nice flavor to soups. This may sound weird, but I can hardly wait for garlic mustard to come up again this spring, so I can try it!

Sam also has a chapter on autumn olive. He says that they are the berry of choice for making fruit leather. I agree wholeheartedly. He demonstrated how to make it several years ago, let me taste some, and I thought the fruit leather was awesome. Since then, I have made enough for my own use and have shared it with over 300 people in wild food presentations.

If you are concerned with how applicable this book might be to your part of the country, take a look at page 16 if allowed by Amazon. In the chart, Sam states a percentage of the plants covered that would be found for a given state or Canadian province or territory. Sam has done a masterful job of choosing the 41 plants, and comments in each plant's chapter on closely related species found in other North American locations. Only three states - Alaska, Hawaii, and Nevada - and two Canadian territories - Nunavat and Yukon - are below 50%. Even if I lived in one of them, I would still want to purchase this book for the insights that Sam delivers. Also, since I travel, it would allow me to pursue my hobby in other regions.

This book is definitely a must-own.
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104 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Book for the Serious Forager, February 5, 2011
This review is from: Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
This excellent book is a continuation of the fine work Sam started with his first book, A Forager's Harvest. This book covers new plants and is a whopping 512 pages; large when you consider that most wild food books fall in the range of 180 to 300 pages. And again, even though most of the plants are found in the eastern states, many have a wide range, or they are edible weeds found everywhere, or they are native eastern plants planted as ornamentals in neighborhoods and streets across the continent, or they are cousins of eastern plants, like the western huckleberries are to blueberries. So many of the plants he covers are accessible just about anywhere except for the desert, the Everglades, and higher elevations. And the depth of coverage of each plant makes this book valuable to those who really want to know plants.

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.

He includes an average of nine to ten photographs per plant with a range of three to fifty-one pages per chapter (the acorn chapter). Like his first book, these photos include different views of the plants at different stages of growth along with poisonous look-a-likes. Many photographs cover plant parts never seen before in a book. The book is worth buying for the photos alone. The book is worth buying for Sam's insights alone.

If you go back to re-read Nature's Garden when you are actually working on one of the plants Sam covers, you will see the benefit of the detail he offers. The more time you spend with wild foods, the more you will refer back to and benefit from his book. If you are serious about learning wild foods, this book will help you. If you are not serious, buy his book anyway to support his work.

Reading and referring back to Nature's Garden over time will make your life as a forager, more successful and more fun. While no book stands alone, Sam's Nature's Garden is an important part of any serious forager's wild food library. Highly recommended.

John Kallas, Ph.D., Director, Wild Food Adventures
Institute for the Study of Edible Wild Plants and Other Foragables
Author of Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt To Plate (The Wild Food Adventure Series, Book 1)
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book...Grateful for it., April 23, 2011
By 
Ronald Clobes (Alexandria, MN USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
A lot of people have written excellent reviews of this book and there doesn't seem to be much more to add to the excellent reviews. I was impressed from the beginning with Mr. Thayer's Claimer section where other authors would put a Disclaimer. Simply bold and I love it!

The commentary on Chris McCandless was in my opinion the most interesting part of the book. I first heard of "Into the Wild" about a month ago and was intrigued so I read it. I was touched by the story and was disgusted with the derision that was heaped upon Chris. Then I bought Nature's Garden and was fascinated by the analysis. Mr. Thayer points out that foraging for your food is hard work and the farther north you go, the more you have to be on top of your game just to get enough calories to survive. Mr. Thayer salvages the lessons that were lost in the mis-information presented by Krakauer. Well done!

Nature's Garden focuses on covering a few plants well instead of a little information on a lot. I was delighted with the Black Nightshade coverage in this book. I have been researching this plant for the past year and was concluding it was edible. I went so far as to eat a berry, but chickened out of eating more. Then I figured that I had better places to focus my thoughts and I dropped the subject. Thank you Sam for putting this one in. I also appreciated the discussion on how Black Nightshade came to be thought of as poisonous. Mr Thayer covers a look alike plant that might have given Black Nightshade its bad reputation. All poisonous look-alike plant pictures in this book are clearly marked with a red Skull and Crossbones logo in a corner which is a nice touch to a well thought out book.

There seems to be some friendly competition between Samuel Thayer and John Kallas on who can put out the best and most informative edible wild plants book. They seem to be running neck-and-neck down the backstretch and we are all winning. You'll need to buy both "Nature's Garden," and "Edible Wild Plants." I can't decide which is the best. They are both very good. I wish both authors long productive careers!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sam Thayer continues to fill the void!!!, April 1, 2010
By 
Randy J. Mercurio (Morrisville, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
Thayer has compiled another outstanding edible wild plant book with 512 pages that essentially has the same format as his first book, The Forager's Harvest, which has 360 pages. Not only does Nature's Garden continue to fill the void but the author listened to criticisms about his first book and expanded the coverage for the entire U.S. and Canada by including widespread species and genus-groups. A tutorial on "Plant Identification and Safe Consumption" provides the step by step lesson for those unfamiliar with how to go about getting started. The author has a nice 20 page chapter on "Poisonous Plant Fables" in which he puts to rest the twisted and incorrect notion that Christopher McCandless died from eating a poisonous plant that was perpetuated by Jon Krakauer's book, Into the Wild. There are 42 plant account chapters that are applicable to well over 100 species of North American edible wild plants. Every plant account has the common name(s), scientific name(s), family scientific and common names, an introduction covering some thoughts and experiences of the author, description, range and habitat, harvest & preparation, while others may include sections on ecology, history and lore, individual genus or species accounts, comparative tables, a dichotomous key (Lettuce-Dandelion Group only), line drawing (lotus tubers only) and an abundance of excellent photos. There are 50 pages dedicated to a fan-freakin'-tastic section on how to collect, process and utilize acorns from oak trees. He has added some very useful comparative photographs of some commonly mixed up poisonous and edible plants. For example, he clearly shows how to differentiate between Poison Hemlock (C. maculatum) and Wild Carrot (D. carota). In comparison to his first book, it contains a bibliography that is 4 times the size and a similar but slightly expanded glossary which is also very useful, as well as a handy index. A visually stimulating book with informative, enthusiastic words from an experienced, practicing forager who continues to research and experiment with edible wild plants. Without question, this book must be in the hands of those who are just beginning through to the accomplished foragers. Sam: thanks for taking the time to assemble this fabulous book and for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us so we can more easily and confidently enjoy the bounty that nature provides!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A professional-quality reference, April 12, 2010
This review is from: Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
Award-winning expert in wild foods Samuel Thayer presents his latest, up-to-date expert work in Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants. Nature's Garden lives up to its title with extensive information on harvest seasons for wild plants, and detailed instructions for preparing gathered foodstuffs. More than 400 color photographs on high-quality paper illustrate this compendium, helping the viewer see the difference more acutely in look-alike plants. From black oak acorns to ligonberries to cow parsnip and more, Nature's Garden covers an immense diversity of edible plants - including some that require extensive preparation according to step-by-step instructions. A professional-quality reference, and an absolute "must-have" for anyone seriously contemplating "living off the land" for an extended period of time.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, accessible and comprehensive, July 2, 2010
This review is from: Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
No matter how well you know your wild edibles, American forager Samuel Thayer can teach you something. His brand new how-to book, called "Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting and Preparing Edible Wild Plants," is by far the best work on the subject, well worth the $25 cover price.

What sets "Nature's Garden" apart from other guide books is its incredible depth. Thayer is true to his subtitle as he tackles the intricacies of 42 common plants found across North America -- including dock, elderberry, oak, wild lettuce, amaranth, chickory and huckleberry -- over 512 glossy pages. Packed with outstanding full-color photos and helpful charts (for instance, on the characteristics of red vs. white acorns), the book is highly useful for beginning and advanced foragers alike. It is written in an accessible yet scholarly style that avoids jargon whenever possible.

Thayer's propensity for going the extra mile on the details makes this a total win for readers who really want to try this in the field. Lots of books might tell you, for instance, that young dock leaves taste better than older ones. But Thayer offers helpful tips like, "They do not have to be tiny, just young," and "As long as the sides are even slightly rolled up, the leaf will be tender. Often...you will find them very slimy. Don't worry: the slime is a sign that you are getting leaves at the right stage, and it will rinse off."

Though it's by and large a how-to, there is a narrative element as the author opens each chapter with a reflective personal anecdote about his experiences. These can be serious in tone, so I appreciated the occasional levity in the captions: Passifloracea, he writes, is "arguably the coolest-looking flower in the world." And the first 75 pages are an entertaining read as Thayer reveals his personal views on what really killed Christopher McCandless of "Into the Wild."

Thayer's first book, "The Forager's Harvest," was published in 2006 and has become a respected standard, covering 32 wild foods, from cattail to stinging nettle (the newest work does repeat a few, but not many). One of my favorite features is a handy calendar outlining the harvest times for various plant parts from March through November. Fortunately, the latest work does too.

Review originally appeared on FirstWays[dot]com
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must own, a treasure of information., November 1, 2011
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This review is from: Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
Beneficial foraging books
The opening paragraphs are designed to assist others avoid some of the pit falls I made in purchasing wild food literature. You can skip this and go directly to the individual book reviews if you choose. Please note that this review is of multiple wild food books. I prefer authors that work with the plants they are writing about, and don't just repeat things they read from another book (yes some wild food authors actually do that). I also prefer books with good descriptions, lots of photos of each plant to make identification easier, and to cover the plant from identification to the plate. That's my bias, here is my review.

I'm just a guy who likes to forage and enjoys the learning and nutritional aspect of wild foods. My main purpose for writing this review of multiple wild food books on one review is to assist others coming to wild foods for the first time (like I was three years ago), and to hopefully help them avoid some of the easily avoided pit falls I made in the literature I chose. At first I wanted books with the most plants in it for my money. It made sense to me at the time but ended up being a grave mistake. Books that devote one picture and a brief explanation to a plethera of plants helped me identify some plants in one stage of growth, but did next to nothing that would have allowed me to use them as food. Example, most books will show you one picture of the adult plant. Many times that's not when you want to harvest it. No one would eat a bannana that was over ripe and pure black and call banana's in general inedible due to that experience. Yet many who have sampled a dandelion have done exactly that. As I've learned from John Kallas, one has to have the right part of the plant (this includes proper identification of the plant), the plant has to be at the right stage of growth, and it has to be prepared properly. If you can't do those three things you shouldn't be sticking the plant in your mouth. Now on to the individual books.

Wild Edible Plants By John Kallas: 6 stars because it deserves more than 5

Instead of having hundreds of plants with one picture and one paragraph of information Kallas gives you less plants in far more detail and unmatched photography. If I could give this book to everyone in the United States I would as it is the best book I have found on the market. His descriptions of the plants are spot on and easy to read, his multiple full color pictures of each plant covered are the best I've seen in wild food literature, and he covers each plant from seedling to the dinner plate in stunning detail. If I could only own one book on wild edible foods this would be the one. No book can give you everything you need as a forager. That being said John does a superb job of plant selection in that most people in north america will be able to find all these plants within a mile of their home. For a guy taking care of two children under 3 years of age this book allowed me to forage while staying close to home. Consider this a must own. John also runs wild food adventures in Portland Oregon which offers wild food instruction in that area.

Nature's Garden By Samuel Thayer: 5.2 stars the second must own, and it too deserves more than 5 stars.

If I could only own two wild food books this would be the second one on my shelf next to John Kallas book. The section on Oaks and acorns are worth the price of the book by it self let alone the numerous other plants in it. Mr. Thayer uses color photographs at various stages of growth just like Kallas does. After you own Kallas book you will be hooked and Nature's Garden is the next logical progression in your journey. Other reviewers have covered Sam's brilliant rebutal to Jon Krakauer's propagandist poison plant fable of how Chris McCandless died. Chris died of starvation not a poisonous plant. Sam actually has this section of the book posted on his website for viewing (go to foragersharvest dot com), and is worth reading even if you don't buy the book. I really benefited from Sam's sections on the different wild lettuces, elderberries, thistles, and many others. On top of that Sam has the most engaging writing style of all the wild food authors I've encountered. Not only are his pictures only second to those of Kallas, his descriptions are spot on, and reading his books are like reading one of your favorite novels.

Foragers Harvest By Samuel Thayer 5 stars

I prefer Thayer's Nature's Garden over this book for my area. That being said I can't really say anything bad about this book. Good descriptions, excellent pictures at various stages of growth, good selection of plants, and done with accuracy. This book was to my knowledge the first of it's kind back when it was released back in the mid 2000's. To my knowledge it was the best book on the market then, and has only been surpassed by his follow up book Nature's Garden and Kallas Wild Edible Plants. Being the first book in this motif it (unjustly I might add) received numerous attacks by a few disgruntled souls on amazons book review section. One must remember Thayer was revolutionary in this field when he released this book, and people had a hard time adjusting. As my friend Stephen T. McCarthy once posted, "All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Well anyone who has used Sams books should understand the advantage of covering less plants in more detail than covering many plants with little to no detail like the over-hyped gimmick books that litter the wild food market do. I few things I really liked about this book include (but are not limited to): descriptions and photographs on cat tail, wapato, service berry, stinging and wood nettle. The canning section is solid for the beginning forager like I am. This in my opinion still fits the must own catagory.

Euell Gibbons, Stalking the Wild Asparagus 4.5 stars

Line drawings that are OK. Descriptions of the plants are excellent. Recipes are added by the author, plus his enthusiasm and good nature jump out at you through the page. I mostly use this book in conjunction with other books, and I never use it for it's photographs or line drawings. Not that their bad. Just not enough for a total novice in my opinion. Now his descriptions are excellent and should not be ignored.

Nancy J. Turner, "Food Plants Of Coastal First Peoples" and "Food Plants of Interior First Peoples" I'll give it 5 stars for ethnobotany and 4 stars as a foraging book.

If you live in the pacific northwest these books are MUST HAVES. A thorough grouping of the plants used by native americans for food in the pacific northwest. Why I only give it 4 stars is that it is essentially put in a field guide format which is very limiting when trying to use a plant for food. Plus while Turner is the queen of plants and uses in the pacific northwest, you'll only get a tenth of what she knows on any given plant. Kallas and Thayer go into much more detail, have numerous pictures, and lead their readers toward success. With Turner you'll get one good picture in one stage of growth. Through experience I've found that just isn't good enough. She does have more plants in her books than Kallas and Thayer but when you cover them in less detail that is to be expected. To be fair to Nancy I don't get the impression that these were designed specifically for foragers. All this being said I own them and wouldn't give them back if you paid me double what I paid for them.

Linda Runyan, The Essential Wild Food Survival Guide 3.8 stars, a good book.

Well first I do have some issues with this book: I'm not fond of the line drawings or black and white photos, she does edibility tests on wild foods and discovered many of them that way (which I'm not a fan of), and some of her descriptions are lacking in my opinion. All that being said she cans her wild foods, dries them for winter use, and lives off of wild edibles all year long successfully. She shares a lot of this knowledge with the reader in this book, and being a nurse myself I'm also able to relate to her thinking in a lot of ways. Plus her stories of using cat tail fluff as stuffing for a couch only to find out that it was infested with insect eggs was hilarious. She tells you all the mistakes she made so you don't have to repeat them. She will tell you to use two other good field guides along with hers. I would plan on not using hers at all for the pictures. I have issues with her lack of oversight on the pictures. I'm sure some will disagree but when Linda tells you in her video (by the same name) that her chickweed picture isn't very good it does bring to mind credibility questions.

Edible Wild Plants a North American Field Guide, by Elias and Dykemann. 3.5 stars

At one point in my very early stages I thought this book was the bomb. However, I would identify a plant, find it at times accidentally for the most part, and go "now what?" And that is the weakness of the field guide format in wild food literature (Thayer and Kallas do so much more for you). This book is almost the opposite of Linda Runyans in some ways. She doesn't give you good pictures but gives you some good details on what to do with the plant after you find it. This book gives you some good pitures, a brief description, and then says "your on your own kid." In Samuel Thayers "Foragers Harvest" he gives great descriptions between wood nettle and stinging nettle (both are edible when properly prepared). Thayer also happened to point out that this book actually has a picture of wood nettle and call it stinging nettle. I checked up on this, and lo and behold he was right. They have two pictures and one is wood nettle and one is stinging nettle. They are both listed as stinging nettle in the book. This tells me that the authors might not know all the plants as well as they should. Don't get me wrong I still like the book. But it does prove that wild food authors don't always use or know the plants their writing about.

Honorable mention goes to "Abundantly Wild" By Teresa Marrone. It is a wild food cook book. The pictures in the book are not great (though oddly beat many of the photos in supposed field guides) but I have read a few of the recipes and they look promising. I'll write a review about a year from now once I've put the book to the test. Until then I'll let you read the reviews on this book and make up your own mind.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent wild edible plant book, May 18, 2010
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This review is from: Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
I have about a dozen different books on edible wild plants in my library, and Samuel Thayer's books are by far my favorites. Where other authors attempt to give you a huge list of all of the edible plants in the United States, Sam has narrowed his focus to a much smaller number of plants that have significant food value. A brief glance at other wild edibles books will show that a large proportion of the plants listed in them are only suitable for use as a tea or salad green. Rarely do they make much distinction between what is simply edible and what actually tastes good. Or give sufficiently detailed instructions for those plants which require special preparations. In contrast, Sam presents extensive, detailed instructions and photographs on identification, harvest, preparation, and storage of those plants which are not just edible, but also delicious, and that have sufficient caloric value to be capable of serving a meaningful role in the diet of a forager.

Like his first book, "The Forager's Harvest", "Nature's Garden" has a regional bias toward plants that are found in the Midwestern United States. However, he has selected plants that have a wide geographic distribution to make this volume useful over a larger area. About half of the species covered in the book occur in all of the lower 48 states.

I would recommend this book very highly to anyone who is interested in learning more about edible wild plants, no matter their experience level.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Very Best Wild Edible Foods Guide, July 22, 2010
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This review is from: Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
I have been interested in wild edible foods for around 12 years, and have many books on the subject. I could probably write as good a guide as most -- or better.

But Samuel Thayer's book is so far above the norm that there is no comparing it to the others. It contains more knowledge on the subject than I could probably learn in a lifetime. As soon as I received this book, I ordered his first one because I didn't want to miss out on anything he authored.

The writing sparkles. His accounts of harvesting wild rice, wapato and "mud bananas" are written so vividly that I "see" them in my mind... probably more vividly than if I had watched a video. Just reading his books is pure pleasure.

If you have the slightest interest in wild edible plants, you must get this book. It will set the standard for books on the subject for decades to come.
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Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
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