Customer Review

39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars foraging for people sitting on the sofa, 10 July 2009
This review is from: The Forager Handbook (Hardcover)
This is a good and interesting book but the format makes it totally unsuitable for its purpose. A foraging book needs to be portable, and this is a big hefty hardback the size of a luxurious cookbook. I don't imagine this is down to Miles Irving, I suspect the publisher has made this decision based on how they want the book to sell. It is also disastrous that the photos are not more usable. How is anyone supposed to make really good identifications of food plants without better illustrations? One would need to carry a flower identification book too, again, adding to the weight of a bag.

Of course I suppose the argument could be that you are being introduced to the idea of foraging, then are going out to look for a few plants that are in season. I still think that beginners need more help knowing they are picking the right thing - it's bad enough doing field botany with a hand lens and an authoritative flora, let alone with black and white pics like this. You could do much better picking up a copy of Food For Free which was reissued two years ago and which is in full colour.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Jul 2009 22:07:01 BDT
Miles Irving says:
A wild flower book will be of no use in most cases as the edible part of the plant is not illustrated: the clue is in the name wild FLOWER book. the format used in this book is that used in the leading manual of poisonous plants: Poisonous Plants by D. Frohne and H. J. Pfander, which uses black and white photos of leaves with a white background, making identification possible when the plant is in leaf, not in flower. a small book could not possibly do justice to the near 400 plants covered in depth in this book.

Posted on 16 Jul 2009 08:32:21 BDT
Last edited by the author on 16 Jul 2009 08:33:41 BDT
I appreciate that you must feel annoyed with me for writing this, but whether or not the poisonous plants manual does it, I would feel really unconfident eating the things I identified with black and white pics only. Maybe because it is a colour age? And why isn't the book a bit more portable if you are intended to take it out with you? Obviously with 400 plants there needs to be many pages, but then so many of us are beginners in collecting wild leaves, we need perhaps more help. I reiterate my first sentence which is that I thought the book was good and interesting... I just felt very frustrated that I wouldn't feel confident using it on its own.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Jul 2009 09:50:36 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Jul 2009 12:42:28 BDT
Miles Irving says:
whether you take the book out is up to you: it would fit in a small rucksack and has a washable cover! but most of the illustrations are of leaves, so colour is not a major issue: leaves are green in most cases. if you find the right leaves, you can certainly use my book with confidence to confirm their identity. It was the lack of good leaf pictures that guided the decision of what to illustrate. we could not illustrate plants at all stages and still include the wealth of recipes and other info. the book is not primarily a field guide, but a handbook for finding AND using edible plants. as such it is intended to be supplemented by books such as Francis Roses Wildflower Key or the recently published Vegetative Key to the British Flora.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jul 2009 12:36:23 BDT
M. Bright says:
Miles, i also said in my review that a field guide is needed to confidently identify the plants, i note above you say that a wild flower guide will be of little to no use, then go on to post that you intended your book be supplemented by a wildflower book!! thats a bit confusing. Once you know a plant you know it for life, so you will know that a wildflower guide IS useful, i am building up my foraging knowledge for the years to come so identifying a plant in flower this year means i will know it next year and thats the way the knowledge should be built on. I think your book is excellent but was just expecting more. I think its important to remeber the amazon reviews are written for people buying from amazon, so we dont get the chance to flick through the book to see what its all about. We just base our judgement on a couple of paragraphs in the book description. Having said that, i still think the book is a good 4, it would have been a 5+ if it had more photographs of each plant at different stages which were clearly labelled to help us beginners on our way.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jul 2009 16:38:22 BDT
I found the book to be useful and when necessary 'portable'. It is also the kind of book the novice can thumb through time and time again with a cup of tea and gain a great deal of pleasure from. It is more than simply an informational tool in my view, it is a well presented and appealing piece of work.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jul 2009 12:41:12 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Jul 2009 12:43:37 BDT
Miles Irving says:
Most wildflower books are of little use for identifying many plants at non flowering stages, even the excellent wild flower key by Francis Rose falls down on this count. Hence why I concentrated on illustrating the non flowering stages, to supplement what is already available in other publications. One book just can't do it all, mine is not intended to but I did want to fill in the gaps presently left by what others omit. however, as Mr Bright says, it can be very helpful to get to know plants at other stages and of course a wild flower book is useful for this purpose. at present the best book for non flowering plant id is the Vegetative Key to the British Flora by John Poland and Eric Clement- it is quite technical but worth the effort of learning to use.
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3.8 out of 5 stars (48 customer reviews)
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