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Helping you discover the sublime, natural beauty of Essex Country.
This book is published by the Essex County Greenbelt Association and proceeds from its sales support land conservation. They explicitly allow responsible foraging on their property. This book introduced me to lands in my neighborhood where I can go foraging, but you will find a detailed description of Essex County Greenbelt Association lands on their web site rather than in this book. All the plants listed are present in Essex County. I actually have a hard time leaving my house without seeing Japanese Knotweed or Staghorn Sumac. I haven't yet attempted to forage outside of Essex County, but I believe the book should be relevant for anyone living in New England. If you are new to foraging, you'll certainly want a field guide in addition to this book. The illustrations are nice, but you'll want a field guide for identification purposes. If your not new to foraging, you already know the difference between this book and a field guide. Each plant is described with its uses, a recipe, and usually some historical information. The book is well written and a pleasure to read. In comparison to Samuel Thayer, Russ Cohen writes less about personal antidotes and more the about environment status of each plant. He'll let you know which plants are invasive species that can be harvested to help the local ecology and what plants are edible but rare. Samuel Thayer does include instructions on how to forage in an ecologically conscious manner and Russ Cohen does include personal antidotes, but not in the same amount.
I was lucky enough to take a wild edibles class with Russ at D'Acres in NH, his enthusiasm and love for conservation is contagious. I purchased his book not through Amazon but at his class, all the money for the book goes to the Essex County Greenbelt Association (see other review). You can order directly through them for $15 plus $2 shipping not the $50 it is right now on Amazon. In the back of the book is a detailed spreadsheet showing dates when plants are available in the New England area, the spreadsheet alone is worth the book cost. If you live north of Essex county just add a few days. I have found the book extremely useful in Southern NH and most of the plants he lists were pointed out in Dorchester (about midway up the state). A few plants might be harder to find the further north you go but it is highly relative to most of New England. Russ offered a sampling of the recipes from the book at his class and again...the recipes alone are worth the book cost, knowing a great way to cook an invasive species like knotweed to replace rhubarb and have it taste BETTER is worth it alone! I recommend both Russ' book and also a class if you can take one, you will likely leave with knowledge you didn't enter with, even if you are an experienced forager or herbalist.
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