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The Essential Wild Food Survival Guide
Previously published as From Crabgrass Muffins to Pine Needle Tea
by Linda Runyon
Review by Thomas J. Elpel
There must be thousands of edible wild plants books on the market. At first glance, I thought that The Essential Wild Food Survival Guide was yet another text covering the same range of plants with the same kind of coverage as every other wild edible plants book. But something caught my eye and I read a little deeper, and then a little deeper still.
The difference with this edible plants book is 1) the author, Linda Runyon lived semi-primitively without plumbing or electricty for thirteen years and foraged for the majority of her food, and 2) as a vegetarian she was truly dependent on wild edible plants for survival and sustenance. One hour spent reading just part of Runyon's book completely changed my view of what's edible and how to truly live off of wild edible plants... and I've been studying wild edible plants for more than twenty years!
The way I learned it, there are relatively few wild plants that could truly sustain a person. Sure, the wild salad plants are good for you, but to survive you needed wild foods with lots of carbohydrates, oils and calories-- and those are often few and far between. But Linda Runyon managed to survive by turning salad plants into real food--such as drying and grinding wild clovers and grasses into flour. There is protein in these plants, just like beans and grains, and Runyon proved that you can really live off of them. It has given me a wealth of new ideas to explore.
The Essential Wild Food Survival Guide emphasizes sixty common plant species that are found nationwide. The book includes line drawings and grayscale photos for identification, plus recipes, nutritional information, tips for cultivation, and a section on poisonous look-a-likes. ISBN: 0936699-10-8. 2002, 2007. 308 pages. Cost $22.00.
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