Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Review: "Edible"

Book review “Edible”

[photo caption: Edible indeed- a papaya in full fruit at the US Botanic gardens, Washington, DC].

I received the book “Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Food Plants” (2008, National Geographic, Washington, DC) for my birthday this year. I have a strong interest in anything botanical (duh) and want to learn more about the world’s food crops, and plants used by certain groups, for specific cultural practices, as well as famine foods, those that sustain people in tough times. I enjoyed this book, though it left me with the feeling I have after I read an issue of National Geographic: excited by visually stunning photographs, but bored by the prose. I find it a rare National Geographic writer who can grab your attention, make you sit up and take notice and challenge your thinking…and that’s too bad, when you have the whole world as your subject matter. The other disappointing aspect of the book is that not all entries have an accompanying photograph! This is odd given the NG’s passion for excellent photography. I want to know what a nance or white sapote or an egg fruit looks like! They do give verbal descriptions, but one lesson of NG is that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ (sorry for the cliche´). Maybe I am being too demanding, but an illustrated guide should have illustrations.

The book starts with a brief history of plants being turned into food, trade and conquest, and the “green future.” Then it is divided into sections on fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, herbs, spices, beverage plants and sugars.

So, would I welcome this book again? Yes, I would. I am happy to have it (and I did read it cover to cover). If I were the editor would I make some changes? Yes, indeed.

Happy garden reading!

1 comment:

Anita said...

Reading your post reminds me of a picture (in another blog) on White Baneberries or Doll's Eye. It was a fascinating picture to see.

You're right...a picture tells so much, especially when we're talking about nature and its beauty.