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698 of 700 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best available book on edible plants!
I am a botanist and I'm in love with this book. Admittedly, it treats only a few dozen plants, but each is described in detail, with methods of distinguishing it in the field from similar species, harvesting, and preparing it. Numerous color photos are very useful. There are good general discussions of plant identification, harvesting, and preservation. The author...
Published on December 13, 2006 by Washu-chan

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281 of 288 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars regional orientation should be more clearly disclosed
I'm giving this book a three-star review as a compromise between its usefulness to me as a Californian (which would result in one star) and what I perceive to be its usefulness to people in the eastern US (which could very easily be five stars). The book's regional orientation should be more clearly disclosed. It can't be detected from the title, front cover, or back...
Published on August 15, 2010 by Benjamin Crowell


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698 of 700 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best available book on edible plants!, December 13, 2006
By 
Washu-chan (St. Louis, MO USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
I am a botanist and I'm in love with this book. Admittedly, it treats only a few dozen plants, but each is described in detail, with methods of distinguishing it in the field from similar species, harvesting, and preparing it. Numerous color photos are very useful. There are good general discussions of plant identification, harvesting, and preservation. The author complains about previous edible plant references, which exhaustively list hundreds of plants but give inadequate information on each, and frequently recycle information from previous literature, allowing misinformation to creep in (an undeniable problem). Thayer proposes that writers on edible plants should provide only information from their own experience or else specifically referenced information, a praiseworthy code of conduct and one that really makes this book shine. When he gives you detailed instructions for when and how to gather and prepare a plant, you know that he's actually done it himself and it worked. I like his standards for the plants as well: Food should taste good! If it doesn't taste good, he says, don't eat it! So, while other books provide long lists of "survival foods" that would gag a goat, Thayer discusses only the plants that he actually enjoys eating. He tells you what sort of quality to expect in the final products, and whether they will be worth the work you put into them. The only volume I can recall seeing of remotely similar quality was Steve Brill's book, which dealt with a different set of plants (emphasizing the common "weedy" species that Thayer is not particularly interested in), so if you already have Brill, you can buy this too. Otherwise, if you want to start learning to use edible wild plants, start with this volume.
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416 of 421 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BEST book for a beginner, October 19, 2006
This review is from: The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
I have 3 books on wild food foraging, including Angier's Wild Edibles and Gibbons Stalking the Wild Asparagus. Both those books are very good for plant details except they rely on hand drawn depictions for the plants, which it makes them close to useless for accurate identification. Forager's Harvest is the BEST book of the three for getting a beginner started. Lots and lots of nice color photographs of the plants. When choosing a book in getting started in foraging, you must have color photographs, there is no substitute.

Forager's Harvest, unlike Gibbons and Angier books, does not overwhelm the reader with large numbers of edible plants, choosing to focus on a lower but still fairly good number of readily found and easily identitified plants for foraging. This increases the reader confidence and starts them off gradually.

If you are starting out in foraging, this is the book you should get. If you are botanist and have no problems identifying plants them Gibbons or Angier books might suit you better. As I am a beginner, I can say that of the three books, Forager's Harvest if the book that I will be using in my plant foraging expeditions. I wish I had gotten this book first.
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237 of 240 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Source for Information on a few plants..., February 18, 2007
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This review is from: The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
This book offers an excellent introducion to the practice of wild plant harvesting. Not only are the plants discussed (in great detail), but the author includes many personal experiences and additional information (the first 75 pages - timing, storage, etc.) - including recomendations on further book resources. The descriptions of the two dozen or so plants are extensive. The book gives information on ID, range, harvesting, and preparation. I live in Washington State, though, and I have only found about 11 of the plant species readily available here (Choke Cherry, Wapato, Butternut(in urban settings), Black Locust, Cattail, Stinging Nettle, Serviceberry, Sumac (Staghorn), Linden (urban ornamental), Burdock, and Thistle). The book is still a wealth of inforomation and a very valuable resource.
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281 of 288 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars regional orientation should be more clearly disclosed, August 15, 2010
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This review is from: The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
I'm giving this book a three-star review as a compromise between its usefulness to me as a Californian (which would result in one star) and what I perceive to be its usefulness to people in the eastern US (which could very easily be five stars). The book's regional orientation should be more clearly disclosed. It can't be detected from the title, front cover, or back cover. Here on amazon, it can't be detected from the product description. For someone buying the book on amazon, the only way to tell that the book is regionally specific is either (a) to use the Look Inside feature and stumble across p. 4, or (b) to sift through the large number of reviews and find the few that point this out. This book does describe a small number of species that are useful food sources in California, but the vast majority of the ones described do not grow here, and it omits some of the most useful species that do grow plentifully here, such as miner's lettuce and wild onions. I wouldn't have any problem with this if the title of the book was "The Forager's Harvest: Wild Food East of the Rockies," or if the product description mentioned that it was so regionally specific. The author's defensive reaction to Dale Adkison's review is that the book can't be all things to all people. That's valid, but people like me are wasting money on this book because there is no easy way to tell that it's specific to one region.
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71 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Guide for Identification, August 10, 2008
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This review is from: The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
I can't add to the other reviewers' praises, but do want to add to the description of this fine book, because some readers have been disappointed that it doesn't apply to their region (e.g. west of the Rockies). It would have been helpful to find this in book's description, but since it isn't, I'll add it here. The author notes in his intro that this book should be useful to foragers everywhere, but particularly in these regions: GREAT LAKES, MIDWEST, NORTHEAST AND THE SOUTHERN PART OF EASTERN CANADA. Hope this helps future book-buying foragers, looking for guides best suited to their region.
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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Euell Gibbons was the Bible, Sam Thayer is the New Testament!, June 28, 2007
This review is from: The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
I have been interested in wild edible plants for years but it wasn't until i picked up a copy of Sam's book that i became and avid forager.
Subtle things that have to do with preperation of the plant, exactly what part of the plant, when to gather it specifically and how to correctly process wild food seems to remain mysteriously vacant from many wild food field guides out there today. Sam's book goes deep into the preperation aspect of the plants where other books come up short.

Granted, he doesn't cover a volumous number of species in this book. However, what he does cover is laid out in exaustive detail. When so many plant books seem to be a regurgitation of the same information over and over again, Forager's Harvest comes as a breath of fresh air.

The subjects on milkweed and cattail alone are worth the price for this fine book. It's obvious that Sam lives this stuff as it is evident by his meticulate records and passionate writing. I have found much of what is in this book to be true ( i haven't harvested all the plants in this book yet.)

I would totally recommend this book as "the book" to get if serious about harvesting wild plants. It may be helpful for beginer's to also get a good solid plant id guide like 'Newcombs Wildflower Guide' and 'Botany in a Day.'
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book for Foragers To Date, October 21, 2006
By 
Loretta C. Gartman (Charleston, WV United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
This book is very well written and is very good for the novice as well as the experienced forager. It offers detailed description of how to identify and harvest a select number of plants. It doesn't overwhelm a neophyte with too many plants while it provides enough to capture their interest. The photos of the actual plants and the parts that are edible add to its attractiveness to wild food enthusiasts. In addition to all this it offers methods of preparation explaining how to avoid mistakes that may leave some of these foods inpalatable. Another helpful part of the book is that it tells the reader the season in which to forage and where to find them. My husband and I are both wild food enthusiasts and began our life together foraging wild foods as graduate students with Euell Gibbons' book, "Stalking the Wild Asparagus" since it was the only one available that we could afford at the time. We have continued to add to our collection of wild food books and we think that Sam Thayer is today's new version of Euell Gibbons and that his book is a must for all wild foods enthusiasts.
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113 of 128 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a keeper for me, October 22, 2008
By 
C. G. King (Horse Country, VA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
While the information included here is extensive for the limited number of plants covered, it wasn't useful for me. As a relative neophyte in this area who'd like to take advantage of plants growing wild in my area, I was disappointed that I was able to recognize only a couple of those presented--plants I was already familiar with. The author is clearly very experienced, but seems to assume that the reader is somewhat experienced as well and wants to extend his current knowledge.

The book contains many photographs, as other reviews have said, and which encouraged me to try it, but I didn't find them as useful as I'd hoped. While photographs are usually more useful than drawings to identify plants, a frequent problem in books such as these is the lack of size reference, i.e. is it likely to be bigger than a breadbox? Showing a photo of a plant leaf or branch doesn't help much if you can't tell if the whole plant is 3" tall or 3'. Showing a close-up shot of the whole plant doesn't help if you can't see it in relation to something of identifiable size, and ideally, also, in its favored location. Additionally, showing a plant with early spring shoots that are great for harvesting doesn't help if you don't know what the plant looks like fully developed so you can identify its location and look for those spring shoots next year.

This particular book is pretty and well put together, and no doubt will be useful to a more experienced forager than I--one who has the included plants available to him, has an idea of what they are already, and wants to learn more about harvesting and preparing them.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent guide, but too regional, November 22, 2007
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This review is from: The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
This would be a 5-star book if I lived back East or in the South. This is great if you live in South Carolina, Florida or Oklahoma. Even the New England area. But a lot of these plants aren't found in the American Southwest or the Pacific Northwest. For example, knot weed is quite common in the Pacific Northwest from California all the way up to Canada and yet it's not covered in here. It was brought over from Europe where it had been cultivated as a forage for livestock. It is edible by humans but I couldn't find any mention of it. I also thought the author took some chances with things like milkweed. Just because a wild plant doesn't have short term side affects doesn't mean it isn't doing something to your body in the long term.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars refreshing resource for novice and expert, September 4, 2006
By 
Amanda (Midwest US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback)
Not since Euell Gibbons has an author approached the topic of wild foods with this degree of authority, precision, and personality.

Forager's Harvest is appropriate for experienced and novice foragers alike. The layout is very accessible; the book begins with a couple introductory chapters on foraging and tips for identification, safety, and harvesting, processing, and storing wild edibles. Thayer then offers detailed accounts of more than 30 plants, including technical and personal information in clear, understandable, and personal language. In a very user-friendly manner, Thayer explains much of botanical jargon--sometimes essential for accurate plant identification--that might confuse beginners (there is an excellent glossary with several illustrations). The pictures (many included for each plant) are exceptional in quality and purpose. Above all, the book is a good read; the information is excellent and often entertaining as Thayer is not afraid to reveal a little of his wit and personality through The Forager's Harvest.
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The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
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