Posted by: terrapraeta | October 5, 2009

Wild Eats

This old man Ive talked about
Broke his own heart,
Poured it in the ground.
Big red tree grew up and out,
Throw up its leaves,
Spins round and round.
I know all this and more.
So take your hat off
When youre talking to me
And be there when I feed the tree.

Belly, Feed the Tree

So today a quick book recommendation… anyone that has interest in foraging – like in really doing it, not just thinking about it – must to get, or at least study, a copy of The Forager’s Handbook by Samuel Thayer.

I recently purchased an assortment of edible and medicinal plant guides. I already owned Peterson’s Guide, but that is specifically oriented to the Eastern and Midwestern States, so I needed to get some Western State Guides. Turns out, the Forager’s Harvest is also focused East of the Rockies, but while that is disappointing the book is still required reading.

Why? Because unlike most guides which list hundreds of plants with only short descriptions of use and processing, The Forager’s Handbook focuses intensely on only 31 genera. As a result, Thayer spends pages describing the plant characteristics, habitat and growth form, harvesting methods, proper preparation and his favored serving methods.

I have only read about the first third of the book and it is sometimes depressing to read about these fabulous food sources that simply do not grow in the west, but I am coming to realized that the techniques he describes will be endlessly useful when trying to figure out what to do with local edibles. It gives me a number of places to start with experimenting. Brilliant.

I wish there was an equivalent resource for Western plants – if anyone knows of one, please let me know. But in the meantime, I am going to absorb every bit of information i can get out of this one.


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