I want to be careful not to throw too many books at you, but when you’re ready to dig into the literature on wild foods, here’s a list of my five favorites.
Consider these “desk references” more than “field guides.” Later in the program, as we become more comfortable with botanical terminology and plant identification, we will explore some field guides as well.
Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate
by John Kallas
If you can only afford to purchase one book on edible wild plants, make it this one!
I refer to this book more than any other in my collection, because it contains the best descriptions of some of the most common edible wild plants in the world. Kallas chose to highlight ubiquitous, often weedy or invasive plants that most of us ignore or resent, and while they may not be as flashy as, say, wild berries or tree nuts, they are all around us, at all times. So why not eat them? This book will change the way you look at lawns and gardens forever.
by Samuel Thayer
When you’re ready to move on from Kallas, Thayer is unbeatable!
For my money, Thayer’s three volumes on edible wild plants are unmatched in terms of quality, quantity, and readability. All of these books ought to be required reading for any would-be forager. If I have any gripe against these books, it’s that they are perhaps too dense, which might make them seem a little intimidating and less user-friendly than other guides out there. But if you’re willing to invest your time and attention, you’ll find no better descriptions than these. Not field guides, exactly – but they contain everything you could want to know about the plants covered.
by Ellen Zachos
If you live in an urban/suburban environment, this one makes a great reference!
As the name suggests, Backyard Foraging describes a wide range of edible plants, both wild and ornamental, that are commonly found—but even more commonly overlooked—in urban and suburban areas. This book is lighter on details and photos than those above, but it’s great as a quick reference or jump-off point for further research.