Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate

On our recent travels through the west, we passed through Boulder (a place I definitely need to spend some time exploring in the future). We stopped by the Pearl Street Mall and took a walk around, looking for a good place to have lunch (we chose Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace, which turned out to be an excellent decision!).

image copyright Almightydad.com

We passed by cute boutique after cool-looking storefront. But the one that caught my eye was The Boulder Bookstore. It was filled with lots of books, fun gift items, and a surprisingly large selection of fair trade chocolates! I wanted a copy of Rachel Carson‘s Silent Spring to read on the plane home, and figured this indie bookstore would have to have a copy in stock. I inquired at the desk, and was told that I could find it in the Ecology section. I found Silent Spring, and also made a wonderful additional discovery – Edible Wild Plants: Wild Food from Dirt to Plate, a new book by John Kallas, PhD, founder of Wild Food Adventures.

I have been on Kallas’ mailing list for over 2 years, but have yet to attend one of his amazing wild food events, which are mostly held in Oregon. So I was very excited to find a book through which I could glean some of his expertise in the field of wild foods.

While I love my collection of wild foods books by Euell Gibbons and Jim Duke, I was thrilled to see the detailed information provided on each plant profiled in Edible Wild Plants. Like Gibbons, Kallas goes into depth on just a few plants (only 15 plants, as this book is part of a series he plans to write over the next few years). And like Gibbons, he includes recipes for each plant.

However, Kallas’ book has the added feature of multiple photographs showing each plant during its various stages of development. This has been my major complaint with other wild plant books, in that it is often very difficult to identify a plant based on just one photograph. As Kallas points out in his book, “The same plant can look different not only in this book but in other books, depending on the angle of the photograph, the condition of the plant…” and “While moving through different stages of growth, a plant can transform so much that young and old versions look like different species.”

When I opened the book in the store, it fell open to the first of 17 pages devoted to one of my favorite wild plants, garlic mustard (which I wrote about earlier this year), including 16 photographs and two recipes. I knew I had to buy it!

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8 thoughts on “Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate

  1. I know! That’s happened to me a few times in my life. Once I went into a small used book store that was over an hour north of where I lived. I picked up a book on herbs, and on the inside was an inscription from a friend of mine (whom I hadn’t seen in a few years) to her minister (who had since passed away). I assume someone brought the book there as part of dissolving his estate.

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  2. Awesome! Did it have many native-to-Colorado plants in there?

    I was delighted to find that my garden has lots of purslane in it. And so many folks think it’s just a weed! Boo to them!

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    • The plants he profiles grow across a wide portion of the U.S. There is chapter devoted to purslane. I wish I had know about the wonders of purslane when I lived Connecticut — it was everywhere, and I never took advantage of it 😦

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  3. I recently saw an ad for this book and it looks great — reminds me of my new favorite wild edibles books by Sam Thayer, “Nature’s Garden” and the “Forager’s Harvest.” Similar intensive approach with few plants per book and LOTS of photos. http://foragersharvest.com/books/

    My favorite thing about them is that Thayer has really experimented with the plants and not just repeated back accepted wisdom — including debunking Euell Gibbons’ claim that you have to cook milkweed in multiple changes of water.

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    • Yes, I’ve been very happy with this book. And thank you so much for sharing the information about “Forager’s Harvest” and “Nature’s Garden.” Those look like fantastic books, too. I plan to purchase those. Thanks!

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