Sunday, 29 May 2011

My 3 Favorite "Wild Edible" Books

Here are some of the best wild edible books for the Pacific Northwest. The descriptions are from the back cover of each book. If you haven't, check out my youtube clip where I show you how you can gather high quality food from the forest :).

1. Wild Harvest: Edible Plants of the Northwest

For everyone from backpackers to backyard harvesters, Wild Harvest is a field guide to wild edibles with their seasons and cooking suggestions.

2. Northwestern Wild Berries

Wild Berries contains a simple key and nearly 100 magnificent color photographs to guide you quickly to berry identification. Additional notes on how early Indians valued berries and where and when to collect them make this book an indispensable tool.

3. Guide to Indian Herbs

This well-illustrated handbook describes 52 of the best-known herbs used by the Indians of North America. Each plant is identified by locale, sketch and photograph, and the uses to which each one was put are briefly described. Tonics, inhalants, poultices, laxatives, diuretics, sedatives - there was a plant for every need. Some of these tribal remedies passed - often in more sophisticated form - into the repertoire of the medical profession; many others have a secure place in the annals of folk medicine.

Other books on Wild Edibles

Monday, 23 May 2011

How to live to be 100: "Healthy at 100" by John Robbins

I recently finished reading Healthy at 100 by John  Robbins (for the video review click here).

      1.       Author Bio
John was born on October 26, 1947. He is the son of Irv Robbins and nephew of Burt Baskin the founders of the Baskin Robbins ice cream parlour. His father Irv Robbins hoped that he could pass on the company to John but John had different ideas. He noticed a breakdown in his family’s health, which he attributed to their diet rich in ice cream. John refused to carry on the ice cream business and has instead become a major advocate of a “plant based diet”. He is the author of the Pulitzer prize winning book Diet for a new America and several other publications.

        2.       Content of the Book
The book begins by examining four cultures known for their long lifespan: the Abkhasia of the Caucus; the Vilcamba of the Andes mountains in Ecuador; the Hunza of Pakistan; and the Okinawans of Japan. Robbin’s inquires as to why these cultures are living such long and healthy lives.

Throughout the book he uses these people groups along with numerous studies to reveal the importance that diet has over health. He notes that traditionally these societies have eaten a much higher amount of plants; much lower amount of meat; and virtually no processed food.
He also reveals a deep respect for the eldest persons in each society. Robbins further, looks into studies which have shown a correlation between health and love. One such study showed that divorce had as severe as an impact as smoking on one’s health.

John shows the importance that regular exercise has in promoting longevity. My favorite story, in this regard, is of Seikichi Uehara an Okinawan who at 96 years old “was featured in a New Years day boxing match and televised across Japan”. His opponent was a 39 year-old and former flyweight World Boxing Association champion. For over twenty minutes Seikichi dodged every punch thrown at him while at the same time not retaliating. After twenty some minutes had passed by and not a single hit had connected with the 96 year old, Seikichi finally offered a single blow which knocked the young opponent off his feet and won the match.

           3.       Judgement
The book was a great read. I appreciate John’s easy going writing style and the stand he takes against some of the negative aspects within western culture. I also loved how Robbins wove the four cultures examined at the beginning of his book into his whole analysis. 

Yet while John is generally careful not to idolize the people groups he examines, at a few points in the book it seems like he's doing just this. But aside from this and a few points at which I felt the information was quite basic I learned a lot from John and found "Healthy at 100" to be an enjoyable (at points quite entertaining) read.

Other Books by John Robbins: 

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Grow Food on Every Inch of Your Property!

I mowed the lawn today and as I did a thousand questions, like incense, rose up from the sweet smell of grass and gasoline: "Why do I systematically cut blades of grass with a blade of steel? Why do I remove nutrients, pay for their disposal, and then purchase fertilizer to restore the nutritional deficit I've created? Why do I spend time, energy, and money to perform this seemingly meaningless task week-after-week, year-after-year? Why do I pollute to maintain such a strange version of perfection?" Thinking about these things I remembered a Youtube video I had come across. It was of this guy, John Kohler, who grew fruits and vegetables on every inch of his property. He apparently doesn't have any grass to cut:

As I thought about this man, my many questions were replaced with a new type of inquiry: "what would the world would look like if it were full of people like him?" I'd like to know what you think. Check out the Youtube video above and let me know: is this guy (John Kohler) "off his rocker" or is he practicing a profound degree of sanity?

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Schools kill creativity? (The Element)

     The Last book reviewed on this site was The Element by Ken Robinson. While the book is at times overly repetitive it offers readers unique inspiration. It does this through numerous stories of individuals who have successfully harnessed that which makes them passionate. Robinson refers to this practice (of finding and harnessing one's passions) as "The Element".

     Yet aside from encouraging readers to discover that which drives them, the book criticizes formal education. Robinson argues that public education often hinders creativity through students' gradual conformity to rigid expectations. To elucidate this point, in particular regard to children, he includes a poem from Loris Malaguzzi (the founder of Reggio schools). The poem, which follows, is taken from the last chapter of the book entitled: "Making The Grade":

The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands 
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
a hundred always a hundred,
ways of listening
of marveling of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover 
a hundred worlds 
to invent
a hundred worlds 
to dream.
The child has 
a hundred languages 
(and a hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands 
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and Christmas.
They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred 
they steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child: 
that work and play 
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together

And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

     So I want to know what you think, has school made you less or more creative? 
Leave your comments in the section below

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Reading Rainbow

     For all of you who grew up to the tales told by LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow, here is a little something; a little nineties nostalgia. :)