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on 15 October 2009
Not just for scientists - a well-thought out guide for anyone with an interest in where our food comes from and the nutritional content of plants.

This thoroughly updated and expanded edition is a really useful reference source for information about the plants that we eat. Grains, nuts, oils, fruits, herbs, peas and much, much more are all covered in depth. Plant entries are grouped together by type, which makes the book easy to follow and plants easy to find, and each entry is well-written giving information on plant use, history, when the plant was first known to be used as a food source (if known or documented), and some brief nutritional information. Latin names and common names are also given (useful I would imagine for horticulturists / botanists etc).

As a general lay reader with an interest in the food that I eat - where it originates from, how it's produced, how far it has travelled to get to my cupboard, and so on - I have found the book to be really interesting. As someone with food allergies I've also found it useful in increasing my awareness and understanding of certain ingredients (especially grains), their nutritional value and differences or similarities and how they might be useful to me in cooking. I was expecting the book to be full of complex information or terms I didn't understand but have actually found it surprisingly easy to use. Botanical and nutritional glossaries help with terms I don't understand.

For anyone with more scientific needs than mine I have absolutely no idea how useful or not this book will be, but I have found it to be packed full of useful information on all of the edible plants I can think of and I have been surprised by how easy the book is to use and read. I must also mention that each page (or section) is perfectly complimented by a corresponding page of lovely botanical illustrations, which are intricately detailed and give an accurate indicator of size, i.e. an illustration might be described as "life-size" or "two-thirds life-size", and so on. Nutritional tables are inserted at the back of the book, although I can't honestly say I've done anything more than glance at these.

As more and more of us are becoming aware of what we eat, due to sport, fitness, lifestyle, food-allergies, intolerances, illness etc., as well as becoming more and more aware of how far our food has travelled and what it has cost the environment in terms of green miles, this is a book that I think many people are going to gain a lot of mileage from, and will find it useful to refer back to time and time again. My only criticism is that I wish the book had been printed on slightly thicker paper as the pages crease quite easily (but that's the slightest of quibbles - and it's to do with production rather than content). Overall - 5*s from me.
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on 11 June 2002
This has become one of my favourite reference books in the couple of months I've owned it. So far there hasn't been a food plant that I haven't found in here, even though I usually get waylaid looking. It's one of those books which prompts "Hey, listen to this" on almost every page. And when you get overwhelmed by the written information - nutritional values and cultural notes for most or all plants, and in the back, extensive information on food processing (much more interesting than it sounds!) - the pictures would keep you going for hours. If I'd had this book as a child I'd have spent hours gazing at the drawings and probably have absorbed a lot of information in the process. I'd really recommend it for anyone who has children and for schools to encourage people to know where their food comes from and to encourage them to try new things. You'll look at a baked potato with a great deal more respect once you realise the torture you put it through to render it edible!
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on 26 March 2011
I bought this book because it was recommended to me but it was a great find and useful for anyone interested in plants or nature. Ilustrations are excellent and text easy to follow and if you are interested in botanical studies this is one I would suggest that you purchase. It was worth looking for.

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on 12 January 2011
Useful summary text and excellent (quite famous) illustrations. Relevant for anyone who needs access to such knowledge but also very interesting generally, too. Chose the hardback because I think the illustrations are clearer.
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on 28 April 2013
Once you start browsing through this book you won't stop!
It illustrates almost any food plant you can think of together with a description of its habitat. I have bought several copies of this book over theyears and whenever I lend it to someone I never seem to get it back.
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on 31 May 2013
Covers the most commonly encountered plants that are employed for food but no real coverage of wild plants that are, or once were, used for food. Well illustrated.
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on 18 December 2014
A useful update of an old classic. Worthy of a space on the bookshelf of any grower of edible crops and plantaholic.
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on 29 June 2014
A truly master book, excellent and a must in any home, indispensable a truly classic, what else can I possible add.
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on 30 December 2009
I have had this book myself for several years and refer to it often. Family and friends always remark upon it, so this year I have bought it for my sister, she was delighted.
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on 11 February 2016
Great book, excellent pictures and informative, exactly what I needed
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