Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants

Not all survival books are created equal. Despite the best of intentions, some alleged “experts” are simply just full of shit. The “prepper” circles are not at all immune to substandard levels of equipment and training.



This book is just plain awful; it was so bad that for once, I honestly couldn’t stomach finishing it (and I have a pretty good tolerance for bad literature). Believe it or not, the hippy-dippy introduction of “[M]odern agriculture represents the single greatest cause of environmental destruction throughout the world,” is actually the best part, since it goes noticeably downhill from there. If the author had made a claim about GMOs, that would have been understandable, but he said explicitly that agriculture is bad (maybe he meant agribusiness, like factory farming; however, like the rest of this incompetent work, he fails to distinguish, so pointless speculation is the only thing left to do, besides ignoring it).

Gratuitous details about a particular plant is not at all helpful, given that it would be impossible to memorize it all. Describing how filaree (Erodium circutarium and moschatum) has “rosy purple flowers” is completely unhelpful when all you have to work with are black and white photos. To add to the chaotic mess, this sad excuse for a plant identification book is not even area specific; it is not at all helpful for me to learn about plants in other areas where there is copious water if I live in an area with constant drought cycles.

This book could have been useful had the details been simplified, color photos were used, and was limited to a particular region (preferably, where I live). Streamlining what would have to be understood is not that fucking complicated, but apparently it was to Nyerges, who seems to be more concerned with appearing on an episode of Doomsday Preppers rather than turning out a good product that will actually help people survive. To be fair though, The Ultimate Guide to US Army Survival Skills, Tactics, and Techniques suffered from the same problems; however, as a complete literary work, it brought so much more to the table so as to render those flaws somewhat minor. It’s almost as if Nyerges’s pitiful plant ID “book” was instead a crappy draft version of what got seriously edited before it was added to the relevant Army field manual.

Christopher Nyerges’ Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants is a serious pain in the neck to even slosh through, much less finish (if you manage to make it all the way to the end, you have my profound respect just for your sheer pain tolerance). I think it goes without saying that I do not recommend this book to anyone, unless you want a less bloody method of psychological torture against a particular target (for some reason). In any case, what I have yet to see is a halfway decent plant identification book with color photos and brief descriptors of each plant that is limited to a particular area, region, or even clime.

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