Dandelion Hunter: Foraging the Urban Wilderness

Rebecca Lerner. Lyons, $16.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-7627-8062-4
In 2007, after an epiphany while visiting upstate New York, Lerner cut loose from her newspaper reporter job in the urban wastelands of New Jersey to embark upon the “mysterious, powerful, and esoteric” work of herbalism and explore nature. This book relates her hunter-gatherer adventures through the streets, parks, yards, and environs of her new home in Portland, Ore., accompanied by her dog, Petunia, and a revolving cast of botanical experts and quirky friends: a wilderness survival teacher who introduces her to burdock-root and ant-egg cuisine; a “freegan” dumpster diver retrieving 50 pounds of gourmet ravioli and parmesan from a waste bin; an urban homesteader illegally but reverently butchering a roadkill deer. The book begins with Lerner exhausted and near starvation as she tries to fulfill her editor’s dare to live off wild plants for a week; she was unaware when she accepted the dare that in May, her chosen timeframe, plants are just waking up and pickings are slim. By the end of the book, she not only succeeds in a second wild-food challenge (culminating in a Thanksgiving feast that features venison, cattail, and rose-hip sauce), but she’s also become the neighborhood herbalist. Although Lerner’s occasional philosophizing suffers from oversimplification and recent-convert preachiness, this may be the funniest herbal adventure you’ll ever read, as she overcomes her naiveté with good humor and embraces the weedy wildness right outside her door. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-7627-9312-9
Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-7627-9313-6
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