Living Wild: A Taste of California’s Landscape
A newly released second edition of the popular guidebook, “Living Wild: Gardening, Cooking and Healing with Native Plants of California,” offers solutions to climate change that actually taste good.
More than a simple survival guide explaining what you can eat when lost in the woods, Living Wild is an invitation to celebrate California’s heritage and culture, with advice on cultivating more than 100 native plant species and enjoying this natural abundance for sustainable wild food cuisine and herbal medicine remedies.
Alicia Funk of The Living Wild Project, the book’s managing editor and co-author, believes that native plants offer a way to cultivate an independent, carbon-free lifestyle.
“Making sugar from manzanita berries and substituting gluten-free acorn flour for water-thirsty, pesticide-heavy wheat are steps that move us closer to the land while helping to address climate change,” said Funk. “Native plants offer a nutrient-dense source of truly local food.”
Funk leads living wild classes throughout California in the field and in schools and museums and has served as an editor of six other books on the science supporting the use of plants for food and health.
The second edition offers a simple path to native plant gardening, with an expanded number of descriptions for plants occurring throughout California, beautiful, full-color photographs of both the plants and people enjoying a natural lifestyle, and new recipes for wild plant foods and beverages. The new edition also includes original scientific testing done on acorns and antioxidant-rich fruits native to California’s landscape.
“Just strolling through the woods or your backyard becomes a culinary and artistic adventure, providing food, art and medicine for family and friends,” said Elizabeth Martin, chief executive officer of The Sierra Fund, an environmental nonprofit based in Nevada City.
California’s local landscape of plants supported indigenous people for thousands of years. Our modern-day American diet relies upon a mere 30 or so plant species, while 200 years ago an indigenous Californian’s diet would have included about a thousand, with each region enjoying food from several hundred species of native plants.
“The need to interact with native, wild plants to heal, feed, shelter, and clothe us is ancient. Living Wild helps us to reclaim our plant gathering heritage and in the process, to go a long ways towards mending the false gulf between humans and the natural world,” said Kat Anderson, Ph.D., a professor at the University of California at Davis and author of “Tending the Wild.”
More than 6,300 native species grow in California, a third of which grow natively nowhere else on earth. Twenty-six of California’s native plants are already extinct and more than 1,000 are officially considered threatened.
The Living Wild Project donates 100 percent of the book’s profits to the California Native Plant Society, a nonprofit based in Sacramento that is dedicated to conserving native plants and their natural habitats.
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