Finally, a Wild Food and Medicine book that really delivers!
My good friend Arthur Haines has just released his new book Ancestral Plants, and I must say, it is amongst the best wild food and plant-use book I have yet to come across. People are constantly asking me to recommend a book on the subject, and there just haven't been many that I have found particularly helpful. Either the pictures weren't clear, the text wasn't informative enough, the author was lacking real experience, or the book just wasn't laid out in a user friendly way (ok, Samuel Thayer's books are an exception to these criticisms, and are excellent wild food references).
Ancestral Plants is different, this book just seems to have it all. Arthur writes from a place of profound understanding of the nutritional and medicinal actions of wild foods, as well as the important uses that these 95 plants held for the native people of this continent (and still do for the "neo-aboriginal" today).
Since I received my first copy (just a couple of weeks ago on the Winter Solstice) I haven't been able to put it down. Thats not hype, I have literally been taking it everywhere. This book has become part of my everyday kit. And even though it is winter here, I have been studying up on the plants I want to learn in the next growing season, as well as using the calendar in the back to determine when I will be harvesting the key plants I intend to use throughout the year of 2011!
One of the things I really appreciate about it is that it is written as more than just a wild food guide, it is a plant medicine guide as well, detailing herbal uses of these plants in addition to their uses as foods. More than that, it also lays out which plants may be useful as a fire resource (for friction fire, tinder etc), for cordage (plants that contain fibers that can be removed and braided in to cord), archery uses (woods that are optimal for making bows or arrows), and even uses like dyes, glues, and basketry.
Ancestral Plants uses a series of icons to denote the possible uses of a plant (a little fire icon for plants with fire uses, an arrow for plants with uses in archery, etc), and then the text details how, when, and which parts of a plant can be used in this way. The photos are very clear and the descriptions have been written by someone who has actually used the plants to the ends described therein (believe me, this is not the norm).
This is the go-to book for understanding wild plants of the North East, and the one that will accompany me into the field this year and for years to come (mine is getting dog-eared already).
Also, I want to let you know that though this book was written for plants of the North East, dozens of the plants here will be found throughout North America, and even beyond. I think that foragers of all skill level and in a variety of eco-ranges will benefit from this work. Also, this is an excellent resource for herbalists or those interested in herbal medicine, as each plants pharmacology and mode of action are broken down in a very explicit and comprehensible way. It has already become one of my most valued herbal references.
This book was published by Anaskimin, (the Penobscot native word for "acorn") a nonprofit organization here in Maine, who's purpose is the protection of open and wild spaces through public and private education. Not only is this book the most useful and user friendly I have seen on the subject, but by purchasing it you are directly supporting the preservation of remaining wild places in a radical new way, by educating people how to care for and interface with wild nature.
Also, as a heads up, Arthur and I will be leading two weekend workshops together this year in the North East, one in May called "Ancestral Plants" and another in September called "Ancestral Ignition". The first will be a three day wild food education, identifaction, gathering, processing, and preparation workshop! The second will focus on the creation of fire from friction, using natural materials from the landscape, the way it was done for the last 400,000 years. I am very excited about both of these classes, and will be posting the details shortly. Stay Tuned!
Check out the video interview below to learn more about the book, and click here to get your copy now! You will gain tremendous knowledge and be supporting a wonderful and important cause.
Today is the first blizzard of 2011 here in Maine, and I am off to enjoy the snow! Thanks for visiting and please let me know what you think of the book!