Author Bradford Angier in his book, How to Eat in the Woods, a guide to surviving in the wild. He points out that although many people like to go camping in rugged conditions sometimes people are faced with surviving for days, weeks, or months in inhospitable conditions not of their choosing. His book is written for both groups of people and offers a wealth of advice on topics ranging from foraging for plants and hunting for animals to searching for potable water and building a fire.

The book is divided into four parts: plants, Animals, Fish, and Basic Essentials. The section on plants begins with a discussion about testing plants for edibility and poisonous plants, and is followed by and identification guide to edible vegetation. Each entry in the guide includes a description of the key characteristics of the plant and the parts of the plant that can be eaten with suggestions for preparation. We learn that the inner bark of black birch can be eaten raw, the pollen of cattails can be used with flour to make bread, and the root of jack in the pulpit can only be consumed healthfully after it has been dried or roasted.

The section on animals provides tips for tracking, trapping, killing, butchering, and cooking various animals. Angier tells us that the liver of a porcupine is especially tasty, beaver meat is especially rich, and that crickets are high in protein while containing more calcium and iron than beef. Instructions are included for skinning game, constructing a pig spear shaft, and constructing various weapons.

Fish are treated in a similar manner in the third part of the book and suggestions are given for the best places to fish, the securing of hooks, lines, and bait, and making of traps and nets. The author warns against eating box turtles and toads but recommends eating snakes, salamanders, mollusks and frog with suggestions for finding them.

The last section deals with the basic problems of finding potable water, building a fire, and cooking techniques. Especially helpful is the discussion on ways to locate water and the liquids NOT to drink when faced with dehydration. Since fire is viewed as an important part of protection as well as a source of warmth and means of cooking, Angier gives tips on fuel, lighting the fire, and maintaining it, ending with methods for cooking from using a stick, to building an underground oven or soup hole.

How to Eat in the Woods provides a huge amount of information for surviving in the wild but it seems to have more focus on the individuals who choose to try such an adventure rather than on those who are forced into it for some reason. For example, when the author suggests serving plant dishes smothered in margarine or butter and I can’t help but wonder where it would come from. Also, as one of the cooks on any camping trip, I would like more detailed suggestions on how to cook some of the game with perhaps some recipes that utilized wild herbs. On the other hand, the book seems to fill a niche and adds to any outdoor experience.

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By Karen