Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: The Forager’s Harvest

I saw mention of the The Forager’s Harvest on Cool Tools, so I expected it to be good. Fortunately, my library had it, so it was easy enough to secure. Even with the Cool Tools recommendation, it still managed to exceeded my expectations.

The Forager's Harvest is a essentially a book that teaches you how to identify, collect and consume a number of wild plants (about 35 of them). However, the book goes far beyond just giving you the cold hard facts, as one might expect.

First, each plant explanation starts off with a story from the author's past encounters with the plant. These are truly gems, and inspire one to actually go out and put the knowledge to good use.

More than being a reference and story book, it's also a philosophy text. Opening chapters really do call out myths of wild food collection and leave one wondering why the practice isn't more widespread. After all, there's an almost reverence associated with the practice of hunting game. Why shouldn't the practice of "hunting" wild edibles be just as revered, discussed, and engaged in. After all, our ancestors certainly relied on both practices.

Eating wild plants these days is usually associated with wilderness survival. You can just picture Less Stroud or Bear Grylls choking down some awful tasting plant matter because they couldn't manage to secure some real food. But this book turns that whole image on its head. Wild plants should taste delicious, and should be a skill practiced to enhance meals you cook in your kitchen on a daily basis, not to save up for a doomsday scenario.

There aren't many books I take out from the library, read, and decide I need to get my own copy. But that's what I'm finding with this book. I can see bringing this book along on hikes, and keeping my eyes open for putting it to use. Forget hunting wild animals, I'm ready to hunt some wild plants.

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