Wild Food; Stinging Nettles and Other Tasty Treats
Over the last decade eating local has evolved from an idea into a movement, locavorism, with farmers markets, CSAs, and community gardens, at the forefront. While the locavore movement has emphasized the values of eating local food and getting to know your farmer, it often overlooks one local food source that we all have access to, wild food. What is wild food? It is edible plants and other food that can be harvested from our natural environment free of charge aside form a little bit of sweat and elbow grease.
In his book The Forager’s Harvest, Sam Thayer guides us on an adventure into the wild and explores many types of edible wild plants, some of which many of us regard as weeds. With a focus on education the book is perfect for anyone who is interested in or learning about foraging and serves as a good field guide for identifying, harvesting, and preparing wild plants. With almost 40 different types of edible plants, from gooseberries to wild rice, Thayer shows us how plentiful nature’s bounty can be. The Forager’s Harvest, is not just a simple field guide, it covers a range of topics from forage to storage, cooking methods, and foraging as it relates to conservation.
What really sets this book apart is the attention to detail Thayer gives in his treatment of different plants and the way you can read into his love for wild food. While it is not a complete work on all species of edible wild plants it is a good start and contains a lot of useful information. Did you know that stinging nettle is good for tea or that cattail pollen can be used to make muffins, breads, and baked goods? Even though Thayer only covers 40 types of plants, each one is covered in depth, with a photo, basic description, and discussion of range; habitat, harvest, preparation, storage, and poisonous lookalikes. From the descriptions to the photographs Thayer took, everything in the book is built around his personal experiences with wild food. So, if you are interested in learning more about wild food in Wisconsin and want a quality, thorough field guide to get you started, pick up a copy of The Foragers Harvest and let the adventure begin.