I am a bona fide Book Nerd. I read constantly, and own hundreds of books. I love all of them, and some I love more than others. Here are the very Favorite of my Favorites, the books I’m looking at more than any others, because I’m a Wild Food Nerd, too. In no particular order, just because I feel like being random. And no, I don’t get any compensation for mentioning these books, mainly because I haven’t figured out how that works. But someday…….
Botany in a Day, by Thomas Elpel. He covers Edible, Medicinal and Poisonous plants, and designed this book so that we look at the common characteristics within plant families to help us identify plants in the field. I especially like the “Key Words” he points out for each plant family – for instance, Mustard family key words are “4 petals and 6 stamens – 4 tall and 2 short”. (Plant. There, I just had to say it one more time.)
All of Sam Thayer’s Books: The Forager’s Harvest, Nature’s Garden, and Incredible Wild Edibles. These books are beautiful, thorough, and have hundreds of excellent photographs of the many wild foods he talks about. There are pages of information about each plant, and it’s presented in an engaging style with personal stories, antidotes, and lots of botanical details.
Mushrooms of the Midwest, by Teresa Marrone. A good number of mushroom field guides are hard to navigate and have too-small photos. This little field guide is easy to use, and it has large, beautiful photographs with easy to read details. One caveat with this book: apparently the photo of the Chaga mushroom is suspected by some fellow foragers to be something other than Chaga. Just so ya know.
Alchemy of Herbs, by Rosalee de la Foret. This isn’t a totally wild food book, but it does include some favorites like Nettle, Dandelion, Hawthorn and others. What I absolutely love about this book is that is focuses on using medicinal herbs in food preparations, rather than the usual tinctures, gylcerites, etc. The author thoroughly covers the medicinal properties of the herbs, and then tells us how best to incorporate them into delicious recipes.
Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants, by Bradford Angier. It’s a slim book that covers over 100 plants. What I love most about this one is the colored drawings…..There are no photographs, but the drawings are beautiful and detailed. I also like that the plants are listed alphabetically by their common names. It’s a very easy guide to work with.
Backyard Medicine, by Julie Bruton-Seal & Mathew Seal. In contrast to Alchemy of Herbs, this books goes into great detail about how to make all kinds of medicinal preparations with backyard plants. I especially love all the different ways they share to explore the medicine of plants: teas, infusions, decoctions, tincture, glycerites, wines and beers (!!), vinegars, herbal honeys, oxymels, electuaries (I’d never heard this word before, but I’ve done this – it’s just mixing powdered herb into honey to make a paste), syrups, salves and more, oh my!
And there you have it, my Favorite of Favorites. There will be others down the road, I’m sure, because I will always be looking at books about Wild Food and Folk Medicine….