Wild Food Guide Review – Part Three

Today here at Wild Cookery!, we review:

Linda Runyon’s Master Class on Wild food Survival
“The Companion DVD to the Comprehensive ‘Essential ‘Wild food Survival Guide’ from a Respected Teacher who Lived It.”

If you read my first Wild Food Guide Review, I know what you’re thinking. “OH NO!”

But please reserve judgment until reading the review. These are two very different products, even though they are by the same author. You just might be pleasantly surprised.

I purchased this DVD BEFORE I purchased the book, and it was the DVD that led me to that purchase as it is very frequently referred to in the DVD as further information on a subject. “It’s in my book…”

THE REVIEW:

This is the so called ‘Companion DVD’ to the book that was reviewed in my first Wild Food Guide Review: https://wildcookery.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/wild-food-guide-review-part-one/

The DVD comes in a standard DVD case with a 70 page printed transcript and glossary, which comes in very handy both with the DVD and as a stand alone resource to refresh your memory on the plants, once you have watched the DVD once.

Chapters 1-8 are pretty much an ‘intro’. The plants start at chapter 9 with ‘Aloe Vera’.

Each chapter covers it’s own plant. Which is pretty handy. Some plants are gone into more detail than others. Where as some are only very briefly mentioned, others are gone into quite a bit of detail.

In chapter 21 she goes into quite a bit of detail on how to ‘test’ an unknown wild plant. In a ‘survive or die’ situation this is good information. (And that would probably the only time that I’d be playing with an unknown plant in such a way.) Otherwise I’d be exhausting every field guide and every online forum I know of, seeing if any of the many knowledgeable people there could identify it before I start sticking random unidentified plants in my mouth. There are a few exceptions to this, such as one you will read below, where getting the wrong plant isn’t a big deal as long as the plant is tasted and spat back out. (Not eaten.)

Chapter 23. This goes into many uses for milkweed, such as using the bark as rope, etc. I bring this up for an important reason. She states that milkweed is super bitter and must be boiled 2 – 3 times with the water discarded between each boiling. Sounds like the same thing Euell Gibbons said. I don’t know about ‘Stalking the Wild Asparagus’, but apparently the old son was stalking the wrong milkweed. All the emphasis on the bitter part tells me that she’s been picking the wrong milkweed for a LONG time. (And so was Euell apparently!) Because it certainly doesn’t sound like Asclepias syrica. Common milkweed is NOT bitter and does NOT need to be boiled 2-3 times. Once is enough, serve like asparagus. Yum!

If you’ve got bitter milkweed, you’ve probably got the wrong milkweed. There are quite a few variants. A good way to test this that won’t hurt you, is to pick off a leaf stem from the milkweed in question. Let it ‘bleed’ and milk a bit, then touch it to the tip of your tongue. Don’t worry even the worst of the milkweeds (or even a dogbane), isn’t going to hurt you by that limited amount. This is not poison hemlock we’re dealing with here. If you’ve got uber mondo bitter, you’ve got the wrong plant. Either a milkweed you don’t want to eat, or a dogbane which are toxic in quantity. Spit it out. If it’s not bitter at all, or very negligible, you’re probably ready to harvest a few for preparation and testing.

She also mentions that dogbane is toxic and milkweed is not. Well this certainly depends upon the variant that you have. Stay away from dogbane, but there are also a few very prevalent milkweed varieties that definitely could be called toxic. Heck, half of the foragers out there are probably eating them! They’re those’ bitter’ milkweed the poor fools keep picking and insisting that has to be boiled 2-3 times! 😉

There are quite a few other plants that are gone into as well.

PROS:

There are some nice plant identification tips, including one or two that I didn’t know, such as sow thistle moves to face the sun. Handy for identifying some species of Sonchus (Sow Thistle) that look an awful lot like Lactuca (Wild Lettuce) sometimes.

I very much liked the ‘Chapters by Plant’ function of the DVD menu. It makes it easy to go directly to a certain plant without having to wade through hours of content to get there. Well done.

CONS:

No Latin names are given for any of the plants covered. Now, I’m not a huge fan of Latin names in and of themselves, but it is important when identifying a plant, and also for people internationally where plants may have the same name, but be different plants entirely. There is that slight issue with milkweed as discussed above, but that’s a common misconception that is unfortunately rife throughout even the experienced foraging community, so as such, is more easily forgivable as it is not intentional misinformation.

Final Rating as a ‘Wild Food Guide DVD’: 8.0 out of 10. This is something you’ll definitely want to have, especially if you are new to foraging.

Summary:

This is an excellent DVD to have in your Wild Food Guide DVD collection. I heartily recommend it.

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