Chelsea Green Publishing

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds

Pages:384 pages
Book Art:Color photos and illustrations throughout
Size: 7 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603585163
Pub. Date October 07, 2014
eBook: 9781603585170
Pub. Date October 07, 2014

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds

13 Essential Plants for Human Survival

By Katrina Blair
Foreword by Sandor Ellix Katz

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
October 07, 2014


Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
October 07, 2014

$29.95 $23.96

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is the only book on foraging and edible weeds to focus on the thirteen weeds found all over the world, each of which represents a complete food source and extensive medical pharmacy and first-aid kit.  More than just a field guide to wild edibles, it is a global plan for human survival. 

When Katrina Blair was eleven she had a life-changing experience where wild plants spoke to her, beckoning her to become a champion of their cause. Since then she has spent months on end taking walkabouts in the wild, eating nothing but what she forages, and has become a wild-foods advocate, community activist, gardener, and chef, teaching and presenting internationally about foraging and the healthful lifestyle it promotes. 

Katrina Blair’s philosophy in The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is sobering, realistic, and ultimately optimistic. If we can open our eyes to see the wisdom found in these weeds right under our noses, instead of trying to eradicate an “invasive,” we will achieve true food security. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is about healing ourselves both in body and in spirit, in an age where technology, commodity agriculture, and processed foods dictate the terms of our intelligence. But if we can become familiar with these thirteen edible survival weeds found all over the world, we will never go hungry, and we will become closer to our own wild human instincts—all the while enjoying the freshest, wildest, and most nutritious food there is. For free!

The thirteen plants found growing in every region across the world are: dandelion, mallow, purslane, plantain, thistle, amaranth, dock, mustard, grass, chickweed, clover, lambsquarter, and knotweed.  These special plants contribute to the regeneration of the earth while supporting the survival of our human species; they grow everywhere where human civilization exists, from the hottest deserts to the Arctic Circle, following the path of human disturbance. Indeed, the more humans disturb the earth and put our food supply at risk, the more these thirteen plants proliferate. It’s a survival plan for the ages.

Including over one hundred unique recipes, Katrina Blair’s book teaches us how to prepare these wild plants from root to seed in soups, salads, slaws, crackers, pestos, seed breads, and seed butters; cereals, green powders, sauerkrauts, smoothies, and milks; first-aid concoctions such as tinctures, teas, salves, and soothers; self-care/beauty products including shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste (and brush), face masks; and a lot more. Whether readers are based at home or traveling, this book aims to empower individuals to maintain a state of optimal health with minimal cost and effort.    


Library Journal–

"When you encounter a weed, do you pull it, spray it—or consume it? Blair, a holistic health and sustainable living educator, recommends the latter. In the first few chapters of this title, she emphasizes the importance of wild plants as food and medicine. The remaining chapters profile 13 edible weeds commonly found worldwide near human habitations: amaranth, chickweed, clover, dandelion, dock, grass, knotweed, lambsquarter, mallow, mustard, plantain, purslane, and thistle. Many are frequently classified as noxious or invasive, but Blair encourages us to see them not as enemies to be eradicated but as allies to nourish body and spirit. Each profile includes botanical and common names, a description, photos, history, edible and medicinal uses, and recipes. All recipes are vegan and most are raw. Verdict: This book includes valuable information about identifying and using common weeds and encourages us to reconsider our relationship with these usually scorned plants.”

The New York Times-

“How do we learn to empathize with other creatures, to respect the web of life that connects us all? The answer must lie, at least in part, somewhere in the deeply pleasurable childhood experiences so many gardeners cherish, moments of gazing into the depths of a blossom or watching a tendril unfold — and falling under the spell of a tiny miracle. … Katrina Blair’s charming and intelligent The Wild Wisdom of Weeds … delivers just about the best argument I’ve read for the futility of figuring out what, exactly, qualifies as a native plant and why ‘invasive’ can be a flawed concept. …Weeds, she insists, are ‘examples of nature’s creative edge.’ They’re powerful ambassadors, here to support our quality of life.”

"For more than a decade, I have been learning about the outstanding value of common weeds as survival food, as free and natural “live" foods with nutritive values far exceeding those of store-bought greens, and as sources of natural medicines to help restore health to bodies robbed of their vitality by the toxins, stresses, and poor diets of our modern world. There are thousands of wild edible plants on our planet, most of which are unpleasant to eat and difficult to locate or identify. Many of us wonder where and how we might best begin to learn to find and use these wild edibles. Katrina Blair's The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is the perfect handbook for taking this journey back to better health, vitality, food security, and peace of mind, by learning to collect and use thirteen common nutritious and delicious wild weeds that grow pretty much everywhere that people live. It is a fantastic resource, and I highly recommend it! "--Matthew Stein, author of When Disaster Strikes and When Technology Fails

"Required reading for the survival of our species! What can we do to live more sanely in an increasingly insane world? Katrina Blair offers a new world of possibilities. The myriad brilliant insights and pragmatic solutions within The Wild Wisdom of Weeds are essential and evolutionary.”--Happy Oasis, Adventure Anthropologist, founder of Bliss U and the Raw Spirit Festival

"The Wild Wisdom of Weeds provides a beautiful and empowering exploration of wild foods, helping you to identify, prepare and celebrate edible weeds that you might otherwise overlook with simple tips on medicinal use, and charming, nutrient-dense recipes. A must-have for any beginning or serious forager.”--Jennifer McGruther, author of The Nourished Kitchen

"This may be the most important book you will ever read. Far more than just a book about foraging; it offers, with comforting clarity, hope for the future of feeding the world when before there seemed to be none.”--Nomi Shannon,

"This is the kind of information that should precede gardening and farming. Katrina Blair expertly shows that before picking up a hoe or spreading a single seed, we can turn to our yards, fields and forests for so many of the foods and medicines we need to live well.   The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is a gem, and will be foundational reading for anyone wanting to live close to the goodness of this Earth.”--Ben Falk, author of The Resilient Farm and Homestead

“Katrina Blair keeps it really simple and approachable..her recipes have inspired me to experiment with new ingredients in my ferments.”--Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation, from the foreword

"Common weeds can be even more nutritious and medicinal than our favorite vegetables. Three cheers to Katrina Blair for sharing the depths of such friends as lambsquarter and purslane!  Release your inner goat and go graze. Use these fantastic recipes to become an inspired gourmet of wild things. This book radiates with thorough research and first-hand knowledge of plants that matter.”--Michael and Nancy Phillips, authors of The Herbalist’s Way and The Holistic Orchard

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is one of those rare and important books that has the capacity to radically alter your view of a world you thought you knew well. You'll never look at weeds the same again!”--Ben Hewitt, author of The Nourishing Homestead and The Town that Food Saved

"Covering a small number of the most common edible/medicinal plants in depth, The Wild Wisdom of Weeds offers information on these species and their close relatives from multiple perspectives. From identification, harvesting and uses, through personal experiences and philosophy, to science and mysticism, this book has it all. Wherever in the world you live, whether you're a beginner or experienced forager, you'll have lots of fun reading and using this book.”--"Wildman" Steve Brill, naturalist, and author of the foraging app Wild Edibles

"Weeds used to be something you kill, eradicate, make war on, get rid of. But weeds are the plants that thrive, and The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is a much needed guide to understanding the virtues these plants possess and the wisdom of knowing them, using them, and keeping them around. Weeds are clearly more important than we have imagined."--Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy

"Katrina Blair has written a comprehensive guide to 13 foraged food plants that we can find anywhere in the temperate world, diversifying our diet whilst giving sensible guidelines to ensure we leave our wild plant colonies healthy. She encourages us to grow the weeds we love to eat, so we can literally forage on our doorsteps, and teaches us their medicinal properties, making food our medicine too. This is an engagingly written manual of radical self-responsibility, full of recipes and information, that belongs on every bookshelf."--Maddy Harland, editor and co-founder of Permaculture magazine 

"I don't know anyone more qualified to write this book than Katrina Blair. I've seen her go into the woods to harvest wild plants and "weeds", and then transform them into gourmet meals later that day that rivaled the best from any fancy restaurant. She definitely knows her stuff and I am proud she wrote The Wild Wisdom of Weeds."--Markus Rothkranz, author of Free Food and Medicine

"Katrina Blair’s great celebration of thirteen wild weedy plants that have followed human civilizations is a lively and passionate argument to change our attitude to weeds, to admire their resilience and high nutritional value, and to embrace them as a valuable resource – at the same time improving our mental and physical health by becoming closer to the natural world. A fun and enjoyable read.”--Martin Crawford, author of Creating a Forest Garden


Katrina Blair

Katrina Blair began studying wild plants in her teens, when she camped out alone for a summer with the intention of eating primarily wild foods. She later wrote “The Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants of the San Juan Mountains” for her senior project at Colorado College, where she graduated with a biology degree. In 1997, she completed an MA from John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, CA, in holistic health education. She founded Turtle Lake Refuge in 1998, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to celebrate the connections between personal health and wild lands. She has taught sustainable living practices through John F. Kennedy University, San Juan College in Farmington, NM, and Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. She teaches internationally at retreats, festivals, and educational and healing events. She is also the author of a self-published cookbook, Local Wild Life: Turtle Lake Refuge’s Recipes for Living Deep (2009).


January 22, 2016

Katrina Blair at Turtle Lake Refuge

848 E. 3rd Ave, Durango, CO, 81301 | Katrina Blair
On January 22-24, Katrina Blair will be offering a Wild Plant Ski/Snowshoe Hut Trip at Turtle Lake Refuge! The trip will begin with a wild, locally grown and living foods lunch at Turtle Lake Refuge Cafe on January 22nd at 12:00PM, and will finish after lunch on the 24th. All attendees will participate in winter wild foraging, wild edible food and medicine preparation, centering practices, and celebrations that honor of all life. All food, lodging, and instruction is included. This course has a suggested donation of $222; contact Katrina Blair at for more information.

See all Events by this Author


Cooking Up a Story interview with Katrina Blair

The Wild Plant Cafe

Katrina Blair: Survival Plants and "Weeds"

Katrina Blair & the Turtle Lake Refuge

Gabriels Ranzi and Katrina Blair at Turtle Lake Refuge Raw Food Caf

"Growing Roots: The Story of Turtle Lake Refuge"

Interview with Katrina Blair, Founder of Turtle Lake Refuge

Wild Edible Greens with Katrina Blair

Durango Colorado 21 Aug 2012 Katrina Blair Dandelion Diddy er Organically Managed Parks


Desert or Paradise

Desert or Paradise

By Sepp Holzer

Sepp Holzer farms steep mountainsides in Austria 5,000 feet above sea level. His farm is an intricate network of terraces, raised beds, ponds, and waterways, well covered with productive fruit trees and other vegetation, in dramatic contrast to his neighbors' spruce monocultures. Fans of Sepp Holzer have come from all over the world to see the productivity of his farm, a veritable permaculture paradise. His first book, Sepp Holzer's Permaculture, offers a detailed guide to what Holzer has achieved on his farm. Many readers might have wondered-but how can we achieve this on a global scale? Luckily, his newest book, Desert or Paradise, examines Holzer's core philosophy for increasing food production, earth health, and reconnecting mankind with nature, applied to reforestation and water conservation across the world.

Through years of consultation with other countries, Holzer has developed a core philosophy for reconnecting mankind with nature even in arid or otherwise "lost-cause" regions. He details a process he calls "Grundierung," a term from painting meaning "base coat," which goes into great detail the importance of water, and Desert or Paradise offers his concept and guide to construction of large water reservoirs in arid, rainfall-dependent regions with examples from Greece, Turkey, Spain, and Portugal. Holzer describes the ecological and economic benefits of these changes, as well as the use of a variety of plant and animal species for further integration and regeneration of the surrounding areas, including reasons for reforestation and the cause and use of forest fires.

Holzer also outlines his ten points of sustainable self-reliance and how these methods can help feed the world, such as the need to regulate the water budget, eliminate factory livestock farming, bring more fallow or unused areas into production, enlarge crop areas by using terracing and Holzer-style raised beds, regionalize instead of globalize, fight for land reform and engage in community building, go back to the ancient farming wisdom, and change the educational system. Also included are Holzer's ideas on beekeeping, humane slaughtering, nature spirits, the loss of roots in our society in general, and in politics especially.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Desert or Paradise

Sepp Holzer

Paperback $29.95

The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm

The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm

By Peg Schafer

A leading light in the field of medicinal herb cultivation, The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm is the first cultivation guide of its kind, and presents invaluable information for growers interested in producing high-quality efficacious herbs in all climates of the US, with the historical connectedness of ancient practitioners.

It has become increasingly important-especially as the market for herbal medicine continues to grow-that we transition to local and domestic medicinal cultivation. Increasingly there are concerns in regards to not only the quality but the purity of imported herbs, and wild herbs picked for medicinal purposes are ever more endangered than in past years both at home and abroad.

Peg Schafer, longtime grower and teacher, guides readers with information on propagating, cultivating, and harvesting Chinese herbs, and presents fascinating new scientific data that reveal the age-old wisdom of nature and the traditional systems of Chinese medicine. Through 79 detailed herb profiles--all tested and trialed on Schafer's certified organic farm-Schafer offers easy-to-follow information, suitable for both growers and practitioners, for growing efficacious wild-simulated herbs. Also included is important information on species conservation, crop integration, and how to avoid the introduction of invasive species. Sidebars on traditional medicinal uses for each herb and delicious recipes are also featured throughout.

Vegetable and CSA farmers will find this book of great interest for adding value-added crops to their repertoire, and beginner growers looking to incorporate medicinals into their gardens will find this an invaluable guide to understanding where herbal medicine comes from, and will make eating-your-medicine more accessible than ever.

Available in: Paperback

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The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm

Peg Schafer, Sean Fannin, Steven Foster

Paperback $34.95

The Tao of Vegetable Gardening

The Tao of Vegetable Gardening

By Carol Deppe

The Tao of Vegetable Gardening explores the practical methods as well as the deeper essence of gardening. In her latest book, groundbreaking garden writer Carol Deppe The Resilient Gardener, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties focuses on some of the most popular home garden vegetables—tomatoes, green beans, peas, and leafy greens—and through them illustrates the key principles and practices that gardeners need to know to successfully plant and grow just about any food crop.

Deppe's work has long been inspired and informed by the philosophy and wisdom of Tao Te Ching, the 2,500-­year-­old work attributed to Chinese sage Lao Tzu and the most translated book in the world after the Bible. The Tao of Vegetable Gardening is organized into chapters that echo fundamental Taoist concepts: Balance, Flexibility, Honoring the Essential Nature (your own and that of your plants), Effortless Effort, Non-Doing, and even Non-­Knowing. Yet the book also offers a wealth of specific and valuable garden advice on topics as diverse as:

  • The Eat­-All Greens Garden, a labor­ and space­-efficient way to provide all the greens a family can eat, freeze, and dry—all on a tiny piece of land suitable for small­-scale and urban gardeners.
  • The growing problem of late blight and the future of heirloom tomatoes—and what gardeners can do to avoid problems, and even create new resistant varieties.
  • Establishing a Do­-It-­Yourself Seed Bank, including information on preparing seeds for long­-term storage and how to "dehybridize" hybrids.
  • Twenty-­four good places to not plant a tree, and thirty­-seven good reasons for not planting various vegetables.

Designed for gardeners of all levels, from beginners to experienced growers, The Tao of Vegetable Gardening provides a unique frame of reference: a window to the world of nature, in the garden and in ourselves.

Sample Pictures Slide Show

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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The Tao of Vegetable Gardening

Carol Deppe

Paperback $24.95

Good Spirits

Good Spirits

By Gene Logsdon

Here we go. Gene "The Contrary Farmer" Logsdon has taken on some controversial subjects in his time, but this time he has bitten off ("sipped on" doesn't sound right) a topic bound to raise strong feelings on both sides of society's moral boundary lines. His subject is alcohol and its traditional role on the family homestead. Not surprisingly, Gene speaks the bare-naked truth, and finds a lot more good than bad to say about booze.

Alcohol has historically played a significant role in agricultural life. In colonial times it was the most "liquid" alternative to hard currency as a means of exchange. Alcohol was the most reliable, safest, and most convenient way to store the grain harvest, and was an integral commodity on nearly every farmstead. Because it was so valued--does this surprise us?--the government muscled in, looking for its own piece of the action. George Washington was the first of many politicians to regulate alcohol as a means to generate revenues and gain political control.

Good Spirits is a rare and brave revisionist view of history. Logsdon is a master at exposing the absurdity of the commonplace. Does it really make sense that the government can make it illegal for us to combine common substances (grain, water, and yeast) on our own property? Can it be true that every war effort in the nation's history has been fueled literally and figuratively by alcohol and the tax revenues it produces? Why must the farmer fund the government that oppresses him?

In between good-natured tirades, Logsdon makes sure the reader learns some valuable lessons. He tells us how to make beer; he teaches the rudiments of distilling; he interviews Booker Noe (patron of America's First Family of bourbon) to tell us how to sip and tell; and he adds lively tales from alcohol's quasi-legitimate past. This is vintage Contrary Farmer: 100-proof, single-barrel select. Good Spirits is outrageous, entertaining, enlightening, and an eye-poppingly interesting, natural and holistic look at the role of alcohol. You will savor this book like a snifter of Calvados, the double-distilled apple brandy of Normandy that evaporates on the tongue like a heavenly ambrosia. Heady stuff, but delicious when consumed in moderation.

Available in: Paperback

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Good Spirits

Gene Logsdon

Paperback $24.95