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

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


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).


December 12, 2015

Katrina Blair at Roxborough State Park

4751 East Roxborough Drive, Roxborough, CO, 80125 | Katrina Blair
On December 12th, Katrina Blair will be participating in an author book reading at the Roxborough State Park, which will also feature 3 other authors. For the event, which will be from 10:30AM to 1:00PM, each author will give a short presentation on their books. After the presentations, Blair will be available to sign copies of her book, "The Wild Wisdom of Weeds." Autographed copies of the book will also be available 10% off at the event.

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


Edible Forest Gardens, Volume I

Edible Forest Gardens, Volume I

By Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier

Edible Forest Gardens is a groundbreaking two-volume work that spells out and explores the key concepts of forest ecology and applies them to the needs of natural gardeners in temperate climates. Volume I lays out the vision of the forest garden and explains the basic ecological principles that make it work. In Volume II, Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier move on to practical considerations: concrete ways to design, establish, and maintain your own forest garden. Along the way they present case studies and examples, as well as tables, illustrations, and a uniquely valuable "plant matrix" that lists hundreds of the best edible and useful species.

Taken together, the two volumes of Edible Forest Gardens offer an advanced course in ecological gardening--one that will forever change the way you look at plants and your environment.

Available in: Hardcover

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Edible Forest Gardens, Volume I

Dave Jacke, Eric Toensmeier

Hardcover $75.00

The New Farmers’ Almanac 2015

The New Farmers’ Almanac 2015

By Greenhorns

The theme of the second New Farmers Almanac is “Agrarian Technology.” With contributions from more than a hundred authors, artists and other contributors, the Almanac holds a civil, lived testimony from thoughtful agrarians across the continent whose work, life, and behavior patterns beamingly contradict normative values of the macro-economy called America.

Agriculture, in principle a pre-requisite for what we now call civilization, seems to have become a portal for deliberate, cultural and joyous retort against it. Historians cite very few agricultural societies that managed without servitude and hierarchy—necessary in order to maintain the irrigation, water-works and infrastructures. Exceptions in commons-based land governance abound in the literature, if not in the prime ecosystems of human habitation: the conical land-sharing of the Hawaiian aina, the 10,000 year corn culture of the Abenaki, the perennial water gardens and spiritual algorithms of paisley-shaped rice paddies.

Greenhorns are dedicated to the project of holding space for producer (not consumer) culture; this volume is the sequel to our commitment in this direction. Essays in this volume shoot out like spider-webs across the wide chasm of impossibility—the glorious rescue mission whose daily requirements keep us human, hopeful, and operating inside the scale of possibility. What future can we realistically build together? Will it need electricity? Will it need globalization? Will it continue to require the power of history on our side of exploitation? These practices we’ve found: biodynamics, permaculture, resilience breeding, state-change in the soil, reformats of ownership, reclaiming the value-chain, re-tooling for diversity, committing to lifetimes of partnership… How long before they allow us to reach steady-state? Do they require interns? Do they require servants making silicon chips? Do they require, absolutely require, the internet? Which technologies are relevant to, appropriate to, and gestating within the new agrarian mind? Through the threshold of our email-box, and into the pages of this volume, some answers have come to this question.

In this volume you will find answers to practical questions about institutional forms, and future-making:restoration agro-forestry, reclaiming high desert urban farmland, starting a co-op, pickup truck maintenance, pirate radio utopia, cheap healthcare, farming while pregnant, worksonging, farm terraces, and quite a few more…

Available in: Paperback

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The New Farmers’ Almanac 2015

Greenhorns, Severine Von Tscharner Fleming

Paperback $20.00

The Flower Farmer

The Flower Farmer

By Lynn Byczynski

The domestic cut flower business has experienced a renaissance in the past decade, thanks in large part to the first edition of The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers, which helped thousands of small growers start successful businesses. This newly expanded and thoroughly revised edition will be equally as influential for novices and experienced growers alike.

With the cut flower business growing at record rates, demand is at all time highs, challenging growers to take advantage of new techniques to prolong the harvest. New sections on utilizing greenhouses, recommendations for flower cultivars, and post harvest handling growers throughout all of North America will help improve their bottom line. Also updated is the acclaimed resource directory, complete with sources of seeds, plants and supplies, and expert information on organic production under the National Organic Program.

For the beginner and backyard gardener, there is an extensive section on the basics—variety selection, soil preparation, planting, cultivation, harvest, and floral design. For the commercial grower, The Flower Farmer includes information about larger-scale production, plus advice about selling to florists, wholesalers, supermarkets, brides, at farmers markets, and more. Also includes revised profiles of successful growers offering behind-the-scenes insight into the operation of some of the cutting edge flower farmers in the country.

Because of the extensive revisions and enhanced content, this new edition of The Flower Farmer is essential reading for those already in the flower business, as well as those who dream of growing flowers for enjoyment or profit.

Available in: Paperback

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The Flower Farmer

Lynn Byczynski, Robin Wimbiscus

Paperback $35.00

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