Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review - Guide To Wild Foods and Useful Plants

Part of an Eco-friendly life is living closer to the earth. When we take the time to really look at the natural world, we begin to appreciate and love all that the earth offers us ... and what we love, we protect.

We protect what we love!

Foraging is one way to live closer to the earth.

When I was a child, my family enjoyed searching for food in the forest. Foraging was a fun, family activity. We hunted for mushrooms, picked hazelnuts, and collected wild huckleberries (which my Mom would bake into delicious pies). Finding an edible was like finding treasure and, at dinner later in the evening, we'd enjoy delicious foods while we reminisced about coming upon a patch of goodies.

What I didn't know, back then, was just how many wild foods are available to us. It turns out that there is an abundance of plants which can be used as food and/or medicine. Even our backyards contain a plethora of wild delicacies (did you know that the grains of grass can be eaten?).

Review - Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants by Christopher Nyerges
I was invited to read Guide To Wild Foods and Useful Plants by Christopher Nyerges. Mr. Nyerges is the co-director of the School of Self-Reliance. Since 1974, he has taught classes on wild foods, survival skills (such as fire-making), and urban skills (such as food and water storage, emergency preparedness, alternates to electricity, etc.).

Guide To Wild Foods and Useful Plants has quickly become my favorite book and one which I carry with me when ... well ... whenever I leave the house. While I may not always harvest plants for food, this handy field guide gives me a new appreciation for the plants I encounter.

The front of the book includes a pictoral key to leaf shapes followed by one for fruits and seeds. This key is so handy in helping one to identify a plant. Once identified, it's easy to find more information ... the book is organized alphabetically.

Information on plants begins with the most prominent characteristics and includes photographs. The author talks about the overall shape and size of the plant and discusses things like the stalk, flower, root, etc.

Next, one will learn about any beneficial properties such as whether or not a plant is edible or if it has medicinal uses. The author even talks about using certain plants to make mats, clothing, etc.

The paragraph on detrimental properties is very important. This is where the author includes information on poisonous plants, plants which may cause skin irritations, and even offers cautions about where a plant is growing (such as polluted water).

Finally, we learn about where the plant can be found, it's growing cycle, and any lore connected to the plant. The author even includes some recipes for cooking wild foods (Tropical Purslane looks delicious).

The end of the book includes an interesting discussion on why we should eat wild foods. It talks about genetic engineering, food purity (as in free from food-borne diseases such as E. coli), commercial fertilizers, and more. I especially liked the paragraph on harmless harvesting where I learned about how to sustainably harvest wild foods.

Guide To Wild Foods and Useful Plants is really a "must have" for anyone who wants to live closer to the earth. It's appropriate for those who love to forage and equally interesting to those just curious about what's growing in their yard. People who love to camp and/or hike will find that it is an invaluable resource ... it may just save a life.

I highly recommend Guide To Wild Foods and Useful Plants.

To purchase the book for your library, please visit these sites:

I received a copy of "Guide To Wild Foods and Useful Plants" in order to write this review. I received no other compensation. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and reflect my honest opinion of the material reviewed.

Images courtesy of Chicago Review Press and digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net