Review: The Forager's Harvest DVDs

Bad picture, great DVD.

Being a teacher of wild edibles, I'm constantly adding to my library of edible wild plant books. Two of the best books out there for new foragers is Samuel Thayer's The Forager's Harvest and Nature's Garden. They go into deep detail on locating, identifying, and preparing foraged foods. Unlike most books that have only one picture of each plant, Thayer includes multiple pictures of the plants throughout their lifecycle which greatly assists in plant identification.

I was very excited to hear he has released a two-volume DVD supplement to The Forager's Harvest. These two DVD cover the identification, harvesting techniques, and preparation of over thirty common wild edibles. Filmed over the course of two years, each plants is shown in multiple stages of it's life. The high-resolution video makes it easy to clearly see the plant details.

Low-res trailer for The Forager's Harvest DVD.

The two best feature of the DVD's are when he shows harvesting techniques and preparation of the foods. Most books only say what is edible and leave it to the reader to figure out how to harvest them. Thayer shows wonderful tricks and easily-made devices to help with harvesting. For instance, most people would try to harvest a long burdock tap root like a carrot, just trying to pull it up. This will break the root, leaving most of it still in the ground. Thayer shows how easy it is to harvest the entire root by digging a hole next to it then pulling it sideways into this hole. His milk jug cattail pollen collector is simply genius.

Of course, the reason to harvest wild plants is to eat the wild plants and Thayer again shares the many methods he's developed over years of foraging. It's one thing to read how to do something, but actually seeing someone do it, such as making sumac-ade or peeling a thistle, is so much better. You see him eat every plant he harvests, along with whatever steps are needed to make the food ready to eat.

I've been foraging all my life but Samual Thayer makes me feel like a novice. I learned something new about every plant he discussed. Someday I hope to hang out with him for a weekend just munching through the woods. But for now I'll have to satisfy myself with rewatching his DVD a few more times. It's kind of ironic that new favorite video to watch while running on the treadmill is about food!

Adventure! Excitement! Burdock!

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