Edible Wild Plants, a book review

Edible Wild PlantsSomething made me stop to look in a bookstore where I rarely shop, and some little voice deep inside told me to go ahead and buy it for myself -even with Christmas only a week away!

The book “Edible Wild Plants, Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate”, by John Kallas, PhD is a wonderful treatise on the nature of wild foods and foraging. I have warily dabbled in eating wild foods, feeling as they could be a great thing with a little more encouragement. This book is that support that was lacking for my previous endeavors.

Dr. Kallas writes extensively of four types of greens in this first book. He calls them foundation, tart, bitter and pungent greens. I have had some tentative experience with some of the greens he details such as chickweed, purslane, dandelion, lambsquarter, and mustard.  That experience was not always pleasant. Some greens were tough and not particularly tasty. Then there was that unfortunate laxative effect. With the information in this book, I feel much more confident in foraging and healthily preparing tasty greens. The author includes photographs that compare lookalike greens, some similar and some poisonous. He fills his chapters with botanical information and growth natures of the plants, yet does not overwhelm his readers with scientific mumbo-jumbo. The procedures for preparing wild greens in order to make them tasty and familiar are invaluable.

This book is copyrighted in 2010, and touted as the first of several books in “The Wild Food Adventure Series”. It is quite entertaining as well as informative. I very much look forward to the next book that comes out.

“Edible Wild Plants” is much more than a field guide or how-to book. I love the author’s perspective on why wild foods are important- perhaps because it is the first time I have seen these ideas that I have felt in print. “Fresh food for the Poor”, “Feeding Yourself and Society” are a few of Dr. Kallas’s subheadings. He also writes of eating more healthily, conserving our resources, ways to help farmers, protecting our environment, and correcting misinformation about wild food often found on the internet. These are ideas I would like to pursue in more depth, and am pleased to discover an author who is  knowledgeable enough to put them in print for me to read!

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