Foraging for a Feast | June 15, 2013

Musselman, Lytton John & Harold J. Wiggins. The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants: Easy To Pick, Easy To Prepare. Johns Hopkins. Jun. 2013. 144p. photogs. ISBN 9781421408712. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781421408729. GARDENING

While ancient humans foraged to survive, today we often forage for less urgent reasons: fun, curiosity, or cost savings. Musselman (biological sciences, Old Dominion Univ.) and environmental scientist Wiggins (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) have written a concise, useful guide to help modern-day foragers identify, gather, and prepare edible plants. The book features 31 native and introduced wild plants commonly found in the U.S. Middle Atlantic and Northeast regions. Included are plants with edible greens, roots, grains, flowers, and more. Mushrooms, although not plants, are also included. All plants and fungi presented are common, easy to identify, and have no toxic look-alikes. Safety tips are nonetheless provided for avoiding poisonous species. Each brief entry includes common and botanical names, a description of the plant (or mushroom) and its habitat, photographs to aid identification, and instructions for collecting. The book also has a few very basic recipes. VERDICT Readers who live or travel in the regions covered and have adventurous palates will want to have this book with them in their daypacks. Those in other regions should consider one of the many other books on foraging, including Ellen Zachos’s Backyard Foraging , reviewed below. —Janet Crum, City of Hope Lib., Duarte, CA

Zachos, Ellen. Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat. Storey. 2013. 240p. photogs. ISBN 9781612120096. pap. $16.95. GARDENING

Hungry for a healthy snack? While Musselman, et al., cover wild plants, certified horticulturist Zachos suggests you simply visit your yard, where you can nibble on cultivated landscape plants such as hosta or munch on some mulberries. With Zachos as your knowledgeable and witty guide, you will soon see common landscape plants and garden weeds, etc., as a smorgasbord of edible fruits, vegetables, flowers, roots, nuts, and fungi. Chapters cover general information about foraging plus profiles of edible plants arranged by plant part (greens, fruits, nuts and seeds, etc.), and offer some basic recipes and information on preserving your foraged fare. Each profile includes a short description of the plant, where to find it, and how to harvest and eat it, along with lovely color photos. Unfortunately, the profiles do not include USDA hardiness zones or regions in which the plants are commonly found. The book includes very brief, general content on cultivation, but since the plants are quite common, that data can be easily found elsewhere. There is also a short but excellent annotated list of additional sources of information. VERDICT Readers interested in local food and new tastes will enjoy this clear, well-illustrated guide to the culinary delights lurking nearby. —Janet Crum, City of Hope Lib., Duarte, CA