Lisa Vegan's Reviews > Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World's Food Plants

Edible by National Geographic Society
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Dec 04, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: nature, non-fiction, history, social-culture, reviewed
Recommended for: all interested in botany, plant foods, gardening, history of food, foods of different cultures
Read from December 31, 2011 to November 24, 2012 — I own a copy

I took nearly 11 months to read this book. While I wish I’d taken notes and better remembered everything I read, I enjoyed reading the book this way. I ended up really loving the book.

Since I started going vegan nearly a quarter century ago, my diet has become much more varied than it ever was when I ate as a lacto-ovo vegetarian and, before that, as an omnivore. But I was astounded by how many edible plants are in this book that were completely unfamiliar to me. Tons of them!

I love food and I love reading about food. I love the history of food too. So, this book was just my cup of tea.

It’s a gorgeous book with beautiful photos and interesting paintings and other artwork. Even though it’s information heavy, it could also work as a coffee table book.

I enjoyed the organization. For each type of food, there is a general introduction, then for each specific food, in addition to the photo(s), covered are historical origins, botanical facts, and culinary fare. Each food has its scientific name listed under it. There are all sorts of other delightful tidbits of information for many of the plants. The sections are organized differently, depending on the type of plant product. For instance, the vegetables are in sections: root vegetables, leaf vegetables, and vegetable fruits and seeds, of which legumes are listed in the latter section.

I really appreciated the short “green” section.

The reference section is good too. There is nutritional information for foods in the fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains sections. I enjoyed the fun to read and useful glossary; it seemed there was some unique information there, but it’s probably because my memory of some of the book is nearly a year old.

I’m glad I read it cover to cover, lingering over some of my favorite plant foods/plants and plants unfamiliar to me and ones that had particularly absorbing coverage. That was much of the book. Now, I’m so glad I own this book because I will go back at times and for various reasons again look up specific plants.

I’m not a gardener (unfortunately) but if I were I’d definitely use this book to see which plants would be most likely to thrive in my area. General information about that, climate and other facts, are given for each plant.

It’s probably just as well I didn’t take notes as I read. I’d probably fill this review with pages of fascinating facts from so many pages.

It’s not a perfect book. I actually noticed some missing edible plants. And I didn’t like the smiling coffee bean hand harvester since, while the smile may have been genuine, I don’t think those workers are smiling on the job all the time; it’s hard work. Also, as a vegan, while I perfectly understood the inclusions, I didn't enjoy the examples given of plant foods paired with animal foods. I can’t give it less than 5 stars though. Its appearance and the plethora of information it contains, not to mention the subject matter, make this an exceptionally fine book.

Anyone interested in plant foods, botany, history, world cultures, gardening, and/or beautiful photography should be able to greatly appreciate this book.



Part One: From Plants to Food:
Gatherers to Growers
Staple Foods
Food Trade, Exploration, and Conquest
High-Flying Foods
Green Future

Part Two: A Directory of Edible Plants:
Plants Used in Beverages
Plant Sugars and Other Products

Reference Section:
Nutritional Tables
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Reading Progress

12/31/2011 page 1
11/23/2012 page 304
84.0% "I've been reading this for nearly 11 months but I made a lot of progress today. It's a fascinating book. I'm loving it." 4 comments

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Kathryn (new) - added it

Kathryn This looks gorgeous!

Lisa Vegan Kathryn wrote: "This looks gorgeous!"

It is. I was hoping it would be more comprehensive but it's still really interesting.

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