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The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants Paperback – May 15, 2006
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About the Author
Samuel Thayer is an internationally recognized authority on edible wild plants who has authored two award-winning books on the topic, Nature’s Garden and The Forager’s Harvest. He has taught foraging and field identification for more than two decades. Besides lecturing and writing, Samuel is an advocate for sustainable food systems who owns a diverse organic orchard and harvests wild rice, acorns, hickory nuts, maple syrup, and other wild products. He lives in rural northern Wisconsin with his wife and three children.
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This book is heavy with information. It includes Thayer’s philosophy which has grown up around the careful sowing, harvesting, and storing/preparing wild foods. This is not to say it is a dull account. There is a strong feeling of affection by the author in maintaining and sustaining wild edibles. Humor comes through in his many anecdotes from his personal and life long experience.
More than 30 wild plants are examined in detail, with beautiful color pictures of the plants, their harvest, storage, and preparation. Descriptions of their flowers and fruits and any distinguishing marks are noted. The range and habitat of each are given. Information on how to harvest each plant, along with
direction on preparation is provided in sufficient detail for the novice harvester. Nutritional value along with some basic recipes accompanies each of the plants Thayer details.
The section on edible versus poisonous plants is presented early in the book. Allergic reactions and plant intolerance are examined to present a clear picture of the knowledge and care that goes into the use of these plants as a food source. Thayer cleverly acknowledges the distinction between plant toxicity and human stupidity when it comes to the preparation and consumption of wild plants. He lives by the maxim that plants are considered edible only insofar as they taste good, are pleasant to eat, and care is taken to consume them in proper amounts.
This book is a delightful compendium of useful facts and anecdotes from Thayer’s lifetime of experience. Why wild foods, he asks. He sees one of the greatest benefits of eating these plants is to be reminded that the supermarket is not the source of all food. The sunshine, rain, and soil remind us that our most basic needs come directly from our earth, not from any artificial creation or technology.
This book is a great resource to use to teach my students that not all food need come from the grocery store. We will fixate on two or three plants over a peripd of a couple days which have little chance of being confused with anything deadly. To the students it's an eye opener. To me, it's a joy to see them smile.
As a note to the author, it might be nice to include a little US map showing the general range of the plants you are writing about with each plant.