The Weed Forager’s Handbook

Category Archives: Book Review

The Weed Forager’s Handbook
18th October, 2018

Everything you need to know about weed foraging is contained in The Weed Forager’s Handbook – A Guide to Edible and Medicinal Weeds in Australia, by Adam Grubb and Annie Raser- Rowland. A must-have addition to your sustainable living library, the handy little tome, first published in 2012 and since reprinted numerous times, will fit snugly in your jacket pocket or backpack while you scour parks and gardens for your feed of wild food.

The five well illustrated and simply explained chapters cover the topics of weed appreciation, top 20 weeds, other useful weeds, recipes and gardening with weeds, highlighting not only the usefulness of weeds as food, medicine and soil improvers but exploring the philosophy and tradition of foraging passed down from our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

This well-thumbed edition belongs to Herbalist and Co-op worker Madison. 

Authors Raser-Rowland and Grubb are also behind The Art of Frugal Hedonism, which encourages us all to enjoy more while spending less.

Read more on weeds from Horticultural Editor of ABC Organic Gardener magazine Penny Woodward here.

 

 

What’s for dinner?
12th September, 2018

How do you answer the dreaded question?

Dish up your dinner winners and you could win one of two cook books.

We’re trying to find some winning dinner ideas to share with Co-op members. You don’t have to provide whole recipes just let us know what your favourite, go-to meals are when hungry kids or partners ask “What’s for dinner?”

Send your answers to hello@bmfoodcoop.org.au with your contact details and you could win one of these two cookbooks.

Cauliflower is King  – 70 recipes to prove it by Leanne Kitchen, Murdoch Books, RRP $19.99

or

Stuffed! The art of the vegetable boat by Marlena Kur, Murdoch Books, RRP $32.99

Competition opens Tuesday September 18 and closes Friday October 12.

Milkwood – Real skills for down-to-earth living
12th September, 2018

Kick start your sustainable life with down-to-earth skills from the dynamic duo behind Milkwood permaculture.

The first book from the founders of Milkwood Permaculture, sustainability advocates Kirsten Bradley and Nick Ritar, is not only the realisation of ten years of hard-won practical know-how, it is a celebration of lifestyle. A lifestyle where time-honoured traditions of growing, cultivating, foraging and preserving food are practised with respect for the environment and enthusiasm for self-reliance.

Homemade and heartfelt, this beautiful instructional tome thoroughly explains five areas of the pair’s expertise – wild food, natural beekeeping, mushroom cultivation, tomatoes and the harvest and use of one of Australia’s least utilised resources, seaweed – providing readers with practical skills, recipes, hacks, inspiration and a glimpse into Bradley and Ritar’s own down-to-earth life.

BM Food Co-op caught up with Kirsten Bradley to find out how the book came about.

Q: You teach various courses at Milkwood Permaculture was this book a natural progression from that and what do you hope to achieve with it?

Kirsten: Yes in many ways it was, we wanted to share knowledge in a way that it can sit in your lounge-room or backyard with you, and be absorbed over time.

Q: Why did you focus on just five subjects – Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Beekeeping, Seaweed and Wild Food?

Kirsten: Well they’re ‘five of our favourite things’, so to speak, and also we didn’t want to just give a little bit of info about too many subjects, we wanted to dive in deep! So we started with five subjects that we love doing in our daily life, which are also super fascinating AND super delicious. Our next plan is to do another five subjects, and then another five…

Q: What advice would you give someone wanting to embark on a more self-sufficient life?

Kirsten: Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can! We’d recommend starting with just one small habit, and learning to do that really well. It might be keeping a worm farm, or learning to make yogurt, or learning to identify 10 local edible weeds where you live. Once you’ve got that one thing nailed, and you’re doing it regularly, in your daily life, choose one more thing. It’s amazing where you can end up.

Q: You practice what you preach – do you ever get any down time and does it ever feel too hard living a self-reliant life?

Kirsten: We don’t get a heap of down time, but on the other hand, part of our ‘weekly work’ is things like weeding, or taking the goats down the gully, or making bread. And for me, those sorts of things are what I’d want to be doing with my spare time anyway, so it works out pretty well. It can get a bit crazy in harvest season when the kitchen floor is covered in just-picked food that all needs to be bottled NOW because it’s a heatwave and otherwise it will all be mouldy by tomorrow, but still I wouldn’t have it any other way. And if you have too many pears to process, you can always share them up and down the street. It’s all good.

Q: What’s next for Milkwood – are you already planning a sequel?

Kirsten: Yes I’m bursting to write another five chapters, actually! There’s so much to share, it’s pretty exciting. And we’re so lucky to all live in a place where these skills and ideas are accessible and possible, so I do feel the best way to spend my days is sharing this knowledge so that more and more households and communities can grow and be healthy. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? x

Milkwood – Real skills for down-to-earth living by Kirsten Bradley & Nick Ritar

Murdoch Books, RRP $45

 

Grow heirloom fruit & veg
15th August, 2018

ABC Organic Gardener Essential Guide: Heirlooms

The latest edition in the ABC Organic Gardener’s Essential Guide series celebrates the incredible world of heirlooms. From 900-year-old ‘Purple Dragon’ carrots, to apples and oranges that arrived with the First Fleet, Heirlooms shows you how to grow your own and recommends the best cultivars for your patch.

Featuring content previously published in the popular magazine plus new articles by trusted horticultural writers including Penny Woodward and Justin Russell, the ‘mook’ (a cross between a book and a magazine) includes advice and tips for growing old-fashioned fruit, veg and flowers, seed-saving, raising heritage chook and pig breeds, and even the joy of scything. Heirlooms would make a welcome addition to your gardening reference library or a great gift for a green thumb.

We have two copies to giveaway. Simply email your contact details to  hello@bmfoodcoop.org.au with Heirlooms in the subject line, and a brief description or photo of any heirloom fruit or veg you’ve grown to be eligible to win.

ABC Organic Gardener Essential Guide: Heirlooms is on sale in newsagents and from ABC Centres and abc.net.au/shop and retails for $10.99.

 

BOOK REVIEW: THE OLDEST FOODS ON EARTH
17th July, 2016

The oldest foods on earth: A history of Australian native foods with recipes by John Newton

“This is a book about Australian food… It is because European Australians have hardly touched these foods for over 200 years that I am writing it” says food writer John Newton about this fascinating book. There are many “super” and also more everyday foods that are native to Australia and yet very few of us know much about them, and they can be hard to access.

 The oldest foods on earth : a history of Australian native foods with recipes

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LOCAL IS LOVELY- BOOK REVIEW BY SUSAN AMBLER
14th April, 2016

 Local is lovely: For the love of fresh seasonal food, nice farmers and their produce by Sophie Hansen.

This is a lovely book, true to its title. It is also very local to us in the Blue Mountains, and some of the farmers and producers mentioned in the book sell their produce at the Food Co-op. I loved the way that the book is set up seasonally. The four sections, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter are divided into further sections with an item of produce, recipes for savoury and sweet ways to use the produce, and then a story about their local producer.

Local is lovely

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EATING FOR YOU
16th December, 2015

Eating for You: your personal guide to mindful eating and living for health and wellbeing, by Sallyanne Pisk, nutritionist and accredited practising dietitian, is now available at the Co-op. This newly released book explains that we are all different, so no one way of eating suits everyone. Eating for You introduces 10 Principles that integrate Western science and the Eastern wisdom of mindfulness to guide you in personalising your way of eating and living. You are encouraged to know yourself, know your food and know how to introduce and live with change. Eating for You is ideal if you are interested in food, wellbeing and making changes to your way of eating for health reasons. Eating for You comes with a free copy of a workbook to support you in introducing new choices that will benefit you. Sallyanne writes a weekly blog, is on Facebook, and distributes a monthly e-publication, Nourishment, for your mind and body.

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BOOK REVIEW – COMMON THREADS: WEAVING THROUGH COLLABORATIVE ECO-ART
25th October, 2015

 

Common threads : weaving community through collaborative eco-art

 

This book is full of ideas for art and community projects using unwanted natural materials, especially invasive species and green waste. It is written by Canadian artist Sharon Kallis and is based on Canadian plants and seasons, but because a number of invasive species are also familiar to us in Australia, the ideas are relevant to Australian conditions as well.

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ABOUT SPROUT
5th November, 2014

Sprout is a magazine that celebrates local food and local producers. Each quarterly issue is focuses on the current season and features a food table, delicious recipes, a planting guide, food and wine events, food news, book reviews and more.

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BOOK REVIEW: WHERE AM I WEARING?
19th August, 2013

Where am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make Our Clothes, by Kelsey Timmerman

Journalist and activist Kelsey Timmerman wakes up one day and ponders: where have these clothes come from? Who made them? This sets him on a journey to answer these questions, literally going to the countries and factories where the clothing he is wearing has been made.

The working conditions vary somewhat from country to country, but overall things don’t look so great, to say the least.

What makes the book most interesting is that the author meets with the people who make our clothes and puts a name, a face and a story to them. He tells us what these people sacrifice daily to work in these factories. Timmerman doesn’t simply look at the pay, physical conditions and working hours, he examines the bigger picture of developing countries’ whole way of life and the idea that making cheap items for the west has in many ways become a backbone of survival that comes at great cost both to the people that produce it and to the planet as a whole.

So much is being lost on multiple levels, for the young people who work in the factories who miss out on education, raising their children and being with their families and community.

Tradition and knowledge about the land and local agriculture dwindle as people from rural areas leave to work in the factories based in the city.

Timmerman shows it’s not a simple black and white issue and that the whole industry needs to change. Capitalism and corporations based on self interest and profit rather than fairness have created multibillion dollar brands that in many cases are just that: a brand. The corporation itself is not skilled in making shoes, clothes etc, the corporation is skilled at promoting its product to make large profits for its shareholders.

Timmerman points out almost half of the world’s shoes are made in China. At one point he visits a factory to find out what it’s like for the people that make his Teva sandals. He finds that the people work up to 100 hours a week, have very poor living conditions and in many cases not only are they paid poorly, they are not paid their overtime. They are expected to make the stuff for free!

As consumers we want to know where our food is grown, how it is produced and what’s in it. The same interest should be applied to the clothing and other ‘stuff’ we buy. We have a right to know where our clothing is made, where the materials are sourced to make the product, what the working conditions are like, how the making of that product affects people, animals and the environment, so that we can make an informed choice.

This may sound like a dark topic, but within the book there is hope. Hearing the stories of the people who make clothing for a living is deeply humbling. They are living lives we could hardly imagine yet within this we hear of hope of friendships and dreams they have for the future.

Where am I Wearing, by Kelsey Timmerman, is available from local book stores and also to borrow at Blue Mountains City Library.

AMANDA QUINN


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