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Weed 'Em and Reap: A Weed Eater Reader Paperback – January 1, 2006
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I am quite interested in living naturally, and this book is a good primer for that. It is not an encyclopedia of which plants are edible (he states that often) but does get one interested in digging deeper (pun intended!). He does mention many plants that he has tried and how to prepare them. He also delves into the Plains Native American lifestyle, and points out that many pioneers died of starvation in the midst of plentiful food.
The Natives also had disposable diapers & bean bag chairs long before White Man even thought of them!!! Milkweed is no longer a weed on our place. (There is a correlation between those two statements!)
If only we had learned from them, instead of conquering them . . . .
So for me it was a memory trip. Not a lot of actual information, mostly stories. I enjoyed it so much I got another copy for my Dad, and he read it in just one weekend.
This book is more about Roger and less about weeds--and most relayed weed information can be compared to advice found in some do-it-yourself books. Not enough to actually convey anything or get you started. Roger is the first to admit this is not a field guide, but I found his anecdotes mean-spirited, unfunny and mostly useless. The final straw for putting the book down came in chapter six when a good friend of Roger's shares the secret for spotting morel mushrooms. Roger states, "The day he decided to share his secret with me was like an act of brotherhood...I couldn't believe he was doing it. That secret is so simple, it's like fishing with dynamite. Will I share that secret with you? No."
Keep that passage in mind when you shell out $14.95 to purchase this book.
Every now and then one happens upon a book that turns out to be very different from what one expected, yet wonderful and charming beyond belief. This was the case with "Weed 'Em and Reap," written by Roger Welsch. Immediately after reading the introduction, I realized that this was not going to be a cookbook for foods from the wild or a book to help me identify them - which was what I expected. It is all of that - to a point - but much more than that. Welsch truly opens one's eyes in respect to the bounty all around us. His descriptions of "weeds" are poetic and very romantic at times. Who would have thought that somebody basically foraging for food would be amazed by the brilliant blue flowers of chicory plant? Welsch's approach to weeds and eating them is respectful and safe. He never fails to caution the reader - but also never scares him or her off. He teaches respect for nature and often suggests using common sense. There is nothing preachy or condescending in his writing. He sounds like somebody I'd love to have as a friend.
Some of my favorite chapters in the book involve digging up poke and buffalo gourd roots - and why you should not attempt that, educating the local weed inspector about the merits of different plants in the yard and making home-made wine from all kinds of fruit. Each of them will teach you a bunch of things that I am sure you did not know about before.
In spite of saying upfront in his introduction that his book is not a cookbook, Welsch provides a few wonderful recipes. Each of them is really simple, but if they taste anything like the greens I prepared following one of his recipes, they should taste spectacular.
Oftentimes funny, sometimes downright silly, Welsch's writings can be enjoyed by everybody. Even if you never decide to eat a "weed," I bet you will never look at the nature around you the same way. Just remember the quote from the very beginning of "Weed 'Em and Reap," written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, "A weed is but an unloved flower."
Book Received FREE of Charge.
If you're looking for hints about what to pick, don't get your hopes up. He very deliberatly doesn't list edible plants or preparations, since regional selections differ so widely. Instead of the plants themselves, this looks more at the man who loves them and at his hunter-gatherer experiences. If that's what you want, great, but I hoped for more how-to.