A Fun-Loving Guide to the Natural World for Kids and Adults

Book Review: “The Forager’s Harvest”

Kenton and I love wild edible plants.  Mostly we rely on Kenton’s training from his survival school days, as well as the mess of edible plant guides that we have in our personal library.  But these guides always seem to be lacking something — whether it’s good photos for identification, sufficient descriptions about gathering and preparation, or guidance as to what plants can be found in what geographic location.


Well, we’ve finally found our dream guide to edible wild plants.  Samuel Thayer has put together a guide that has added considerably to our wild edible harvest.

Samuel has obviously actually tried all of the edibles he writes about.  He writes about each one intimately, sharing stories of different encounters with each plant.  He explains exactly how to harvest the plants, and has great photos of the plants’ different edible stages.  For instance, in the chapter on milkweed (in which he debunks the great ‘bitter milkweed myth’), you’ll see photos of the young shoots (and detailed instructions on how to differentiate them from the toxic dogbane shoots), the flower buds, and learn all about ‘milkweed white’, which we’re very eager to try this summer.

Mr. Thayer has chosen to include fewer plants and give more detail, and he’s chosen plants that are local to his location (since he’s from Wisconsin, the plants are also local to us :), but a quick browse through his book should tell you if the plants are relevant to your ecosystem.  Luckily, he’s chosen many common plants that grow throughout the United States and Southern Canada, and you’ll likely be surprised at the delicious edible treats offered by some of your favorite and most familiar plant species.

One of the best features is the wild edible calendar he includes in the book.  It serves as an easy-to-use guide that lets you know what’s available out in the woods and fields.  It’s based on a 45 degree latitude and 1000 ft. elevation in the U.S., and is going to be most accurate in ecosystems similar to Wisconsin’s.  The book also includes tons of info for beginning foragers, including tools, harvest methods, and identification tips.

We’ve experimented with many new edibles this spring and early summer, thanks to Samuel’s book.  It’s a must-have in any naturalist’s library, and will add a whole new dimension to your hikes and wanders, whether you’re currently familar with wild edibles or not.  You can purchase your own copy here.  Enjoy!

8 Responses to “Book Review: “The Forager’s Harvest””

  1. Okay, okay, I’ll get this! What a wonderful review, I suggest you send him a copy of it…You two are such a riot.

    Thank you for this.

  2. Thanks Jay! We have so many edible plant books in our collection, and this one really stood out (we first got a copy from the library, and then ordered our own so we’d have it always at our fingertips), so we felt like we needed to share it with others =)

  3. How can I resist, I’m off to Amazon.com right now to buy one. He should pay you a finders fee or something, for finding him all the anxious buyers.
    I sure enjoy your site, and I admire how much fun you seem to have during your adventures, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

  4. Hey MObugs41,

    You won’t be sorry. We learned so much, and we thought we were already pretty knowledgeable about edible plants! If you didn’t order from Amazon already, you can purchase directly from the author (link is in the article), and we think he sends a signed copy.
    Thanks as well for the compliments on the site. It’s very inspiring to hear that you enjoy it!

  5. Hey there, guys! Not sure if you remember me or not (I’m a friend of Rachel’s, and I took a beginner belly dancing class from Rebecca at one time). I really enjoy your website and this blog, and as I was browsing through, I got really excited to see this book. I went to a workshop done by the author, and then purchased the book soon after. Since then, it’s been my wild foods bible! I love it! Glad to hear you two do too!

  6. Sure we remember you, Zoe! Great to hear from you =)

    We’re so glad that you’re keeping up with our writings. We’ve really wanted to go see one of the author’s workshops — soon after we discovered the book we learned that he had just done a workshop over at Beaver Creek. Grrr! We just missed it! We’ve written an email or two back and forth, and he seems like a really nice (and incredibly knowledgeable) person. We’re right with you when it comes to using this book as our primary wild foods guide — especially in Wisconsin.

    Thanks for reconnecting!

    Kenton and Rebecca

  7. I’ve been considering buying this, but wasn’t sure if the information would apply to me in the deep south. After looking around online to find reviews, (all of them I’ve read are positive reviews) I found yours & you say that the author has chosen many plants that grow throughout the U.S. — So I’m buying it.

    Thanks for the information.

  8. Hello FlipFlap,

    We’re not too familiar with your plants down there, but even if the book only covers a few plants in your area, you’ll probably learn a lot about them. We remember picking up an edible plants book once that only described a few species — interestingly, it did more to expand our wild edible experience than books that cover hundreds of species — probably because it inspired a quest to find and try the species that were described. Good luck, and enjoy your wild harvest!

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