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Wild Edibles: A Practical Guide to Foraging, with Easy Identification of 60 Edible Plants and 67 Recipes [Paperback]

Sergei Boutenko

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Book Description

16 Aug 2013
In this field guide to foraging wild edible plants, Sergei Boutenko (son of raw-food guru Victoria Boutenko) explores the health benefits of wild-harvested food, explains how to safely identify trailside weeds, herbs, fruits, and greens that grow worldwide, and shares his delicious, nutrient-dense recipes.

Sergei Boutenko has been gathering wild plants since he was 13, when, early on in a 6-month hike from Mexico to Canada, he and his raw-food family ran out of provisions and turned to foraging for survival in the wild. Back in civilization, Boutenko was dismayed by the inferior quality of store-bought food and industrial agriculture, and began to regularly collect wild plants near his home and on his travels. Now, in Wild Edibles, he shares knowledge gleaned from years of live-food wildcrafting and thriving in harmony with nature.

This practical guide to plant foraging gives hikers, backpackers, raw foodists, gardeners, chefs, foodies, DIYers, survivalists, and off-the-grid enthusiasts the tools to identify, harvest, and prepare wild edible plants. The book outlines basic rules for safe wild-food foraging and discusses poisonous plants, plant identification protocol, gathering etiquette, and conservation.

Boutenko explores in detail the many rewards of eating wild flora: environmental protection, sustainability, saving money, economic self-sufficiency, and healthy living. He draws on thoroughly researched nutrition science to make a compelling case for the health benefits of a diverse, local-food diet that includes wild greens.

The majority of the 60 edible plants described in this field guide can be found worldwide, including common-growing trees. Over 300 color photos make plant identification easy and safe. A chapter containing 67 high-nutrient vegan recipes—including green smoothies, salads and salad dressings, spreads and crackers, main courses, juices, and sweets—provides inspiration to join Sergei on the trail to radiant health.

Wild Edibles: A Practical Guide to Foraging, with Easy Identification of 60 Edible Plants and 67 Recipes has taught me that my backyard is full of free food! Way to go, Sergei.” —John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market

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Wild Edibles: A Practical Guide to Foraging, with Easy Identification of 60 Edible Plants and 67 Recipes + Green for Life + Green Smoothie Revolution: The Radical Leap Toward Natural Health
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  60 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Happy to own it, but room for improvement 31 July 2013
By Michael E. Krebill - Published on Amazon.com
Loved the first 60 pages, beginning with the fascinating story about the Pacific Coast Trail hike with his family, and going on to his spotting wild edibles that seem to be universal in countries around the world. Great insight is revealed in his reasons for foraging and the rules he recommends we follow. Loved his evident enthusiasm and his sage advice. I felt let down, however, by the field guide section. It wasn't ready for prime time and needed more tweaking. One of the reviewers nailed my biggest concern, commenting on the confusing background in many of the photos. This makes it difficult - especially for beginners - to discern the object Sergei is trying to point out. Sergei, if you read this, here are ones that could be better: p. 45, photo A; p. 47, photo B; p. 73, photo B; p. 85, D; p. 88, A, B, & C, p. 93, B; p. 97, A & B; p. 98, B; p. 106, A & C; p. 112, B (right edge of leaf is not distinct); p. 122, E; p. 134, c (square stem of mint is confused by brown stuff); p. 139, D; p. 144, A (out of focus); p. 148, A; p. 171, C & D; p. 173, D; p. 187, A, B, & D; p. 194, A; p. 196, C (would be better to have a single flower in a sharp closeup); p. 201, D; p. 210, C; p. 214, A. The gentleman who made the comment suggested photos with a white background. Sergei has some of them: p. 102, A; p. 149, p. 153; p. 180, A; p. 182, A; these are really helpful for novices. Beside the photos, the author copies phrases from plant to plant again and again. I might not have noticed this if I hadn't read the entire book. It made it tedious to read, and sometimes inaccurate. One example of an inaccurate application is describing the inner bark (cambium) of aspen and willow as "sweet and delicious." (p. 68, Helpful Tips and p. 211, Helpful Tips) That is very misleading; they are unpleasantly bitter. And despite Sergei's claim and the claim of other foragers, I do not consider all wild mustards truly safe to eat. On page 143, Sergei writes this: "Pennycress is absolutely safe to eat." Sorry, Sergei. Your statement, which is copied from plant to plant throughout your field guide, shouldn't have been repeated here. Pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) has sufficient toxicity to make it dangerous. Check out this link: [...] Finally, in his drawings of Roots on p. 282, the author draws ginger and labels it as a tuber. Ginger is a rhizome. His drawing of a corm looks like a potato, which is a tuber. Careful proofreading might have caught these mistakes. I still like the book in spite of these flaws, and have many new things to try, such as mallow-wrapped avocado slices with a squirt of lemon.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Place For A Beginning Urban Forager To Start - This Is Not A Book About Living Off The Land Or Survival 29 July 2013
By Dave Lakhani - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've read a good number of books like this one and I liked this one better than most for several reasons.

1. Color photography - This is a key to identifying plants. Drawings with descriptions are trumped hard by color photography.
2. Great descriptions of the plant and keys to identifying the plant - In most of the pictures you can see exactly what the author is describing.
3. Taste profiles - I really enjoyed that the author gave a good description of what each plant tastes like, descriptions that I found very accurate.
4. Combinations - It was nice seeing some recipes and ideas for combining what you forage, yes, he goes overboard with the smoothies but it is also nice to know what flavors disappear in a blender with other food.

The book is well laid out, but missing one key element for me, and that is what regions of the United States these items are found, the implication is everywhere, but I'm left unsure. I'd also have liked a little better description of where specifically to look for each plant. Should I look near a water source? Should I look in a dry sunny area? Where should I look that the average forager would not? A few more of those tips along with a region would have made this a five star book for me.

Now for those looking for a book on edible plants for surviving, I'd say add this to a survival foraging book that would also include insects and animals. This is more for an urban forager who is looking to supplement their supermarket purchases. This guy doesn't present himself as a survival expert so don't expect that from this book.

Overall I thought the book was well written, easy to read and to use in the field. Another great feature would be a pull out guide that shows the plant in color, a brief description, and a region so that you didn't have the carry the book with you into the field as you learn. Maybe a future edition would have something like that.

This book is a great addition to any forager's library or for anyone thinking of starting out.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource on edible wild plants 19 July 2013
By P. Frazier Phd. - Published on Amazon.com
I'm so relieved to find a book to take with me when I go backpacking. Sergei's book makes it really easy for me to identify plants that are safe or unsafe and even includes tips to identifying each specific plant. I can't believe how much information Wild Edibles contains, it has everything from nutrient information to tips on picking and large photo's of each plant. Overall I highly recommend this book to any hikers out there or even just people looking for free raw natural food.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! 21 July 2013
By Charlemagne - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have been looking for a book like this since I make healing balms and enjoy eating all sorts of greens. I saw a cooking channel on Youtube the other day where the cook used Lamb's Quarter and recognized it as a weed I had seen before and would like to cook myself. This book is well written, easy to follow, and has nice, glossy pages. It covers 60 different wild growing plants, including wild berry bushes, green foliage, trees, and grass (no mushrooms). As a fan of wheatgrass, I learned I could just harvest and make my own juice with clean, untreated grass from my yard.

The book also covers some poisonous plants. Each plant has about four different photos of it, which is very helpful for identification. There are tips on how to harvest and keep things fresh. The last part of the book covers recipes. The many different smoothie recipes will be helpful for anyone trying to detox or lose weight. How-to salads, dressings, spreads, and even soups and crackers are included.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is into gardening and wants to know how to utilize weeds with the produce they are growing. (Right now I'm allowing Lamb's Quarter to grow along with my cucumber plants) It is also great for hikers and people who are interested in making simple, natural medicines.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Average Foraging Book 29 Oct 2013
By mlp - Published on Amazon.com
This books is nice to look at and has some good basic information on foraging. As other reviewers have stated, it is repetitive in its information at times and the picture he has labeled as ostrich fern is not ostrich fern. This seems to be a book the author should have written in 10-20 years and still has much to learn about wild edible plants. Therefore, what you will get is an average foraging book that lacks depth. If you're looking for more than just your average foraging book you should check out: "The Forager's Harvest" The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants and "Nature's Garden" Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (both by Samuel Thayer) or "WIld Edible Plants" Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt To Plate (The Wild Food Adventure Series, Book 1) by John Kallas.
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