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


Seed to Seed

Seed to Seed

By Suzanne Ashworth

Seed to Seed is a complete seed-saving guide that describes specific techniques for saving the seeds of 160 different vegetables. This book contains detailed information about each vegetable, including its botanical classification, flower structure and means of pollination, required population size, isolation distance, techniques for caging or hand-pollination, and also the proper methods for harvesting, drying, cleaning, and storing the seeds.

Seed to Seed is widely acknowledged as the best guide available for home gardeners to learn effective ways to produce and store seeds on a small scale. The author has grown seed crops of every vegetable featured in the book, and has thoroughly researched and tested all of the techniques she recommends for the home garden.

This newly updated and greatly expanded Second Edition includes additional information about how to start each vegetable from seed, which has turned the book into a complete growing guide. Local knowledge about seed starting techniques for each vegetable has been shared by expert gardeners from seven regions of the United States-Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast/Gulf Coast, Midwest, Southwest, Central West Coast, and Northwest.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Seed to Seed

Kent Whealy, Suzanne Ashworth, David Cavagnaro

Paperback $24.95

The Grafter's Handbook, 6th Edition

The Grafter's Handbook, 6th Edition

By R.J. Garner

R.J. Garner's The Grafter's Handbook is the classic reference book and revered encyclopedia (and the only one of its kind) on plant propagation by grafting, and has been favored by orchardists and gardeners since its first publication in 1947. Now revised and updated for a new generation by respected horticulturist Steve Bradley, the all-time classic is back and better than ever.

Everything the dedicated amateur, student, and professional horticulturalist wants to know about grafting is here, clearly written in a concise and straightforward style, the distillation of a lifetime's careful study and research. Chapters include information on compatilibility and cambial contact; rootstocks and their propagation; tools and accessories; methods of grafting; and grafting established trees.

Available in: Hardcover

Read More

The Grafter's Handbook, 6th Edition

R.J. Garner, Steve Bradley

Hardcover $40.00

Old Southern Apples

Old Southern Apples

By Creighton Lee Calhoun

A book that became an instant classic when it first appeared in 1995, Old Southern Apples is an indispensable reference for fruit lovers everywhere, especially those who live in the southern United States. Out of print for several years, this newly revised and expanded edition now features descriptions of some 1,800 apple varieties that either originated in the South or were widely grown there before 1928.

Author Lee Calhoun is one of the foremost figures in apple conservation in America. This masterwork reflects his knowledge and personal experience over more than thirty years, as he sought out and grew hundreds of classic apples, including both legendary varieties (like Nickajack and Magnum Bonum) and little-known ones (like Buff and Cullasaga). Representing our common orchard heritage, many of these apples are today at risk of disappearing from our national table.

Illustrated with more than 120 color images of classic apples from the National Agricultural Library’s collection of watercolor paintings, Old Southern Apples is a fascinating and beautiful reference and gift book. In addition to A-to-Z descriptions of apple varieties, both extant and extinct, Calhoun provides a brief history of apple culture in the South, and includes practical information on growing apples and on their traditional uses.

Available in: Hardcover

Read More

Old Southern Apples

Creighton Lee Calhoun

Hardcover $75.00

Loving and Leaving the Good Life

Loving and Leaving the Good Life

By Helen Nearing

Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of Living the Good Life and many other bestselling books, lived together for 53 years until Scott's death at age 100. Loving and Leaving the Good Life is Helen's testimonial to their life together and to what they stood for: self-sufficiency, generosity, social justice, and peace.

In 1932, after deciding it would be better to be poor in the country than in the city, Helen and Scott moved from New York Ciy to Vermont. Here they created their legendary homestead which they described in Living the Good Life: How to Live Simply and Sanely in a Troubled World, a book that has sold 250,000 copies and inspired thousands of young people to move back to the land.

The Nearings moved to Maine in 1953, where they continued their hard physical work as homesteaders and their intense intellectual work promoting social justice. Thirty years later, as Scott approached his 100th birthday, he decided it was time to prepare for his death. He stopped eating, and six weeks later Helen held him and said goodbye.

Loving and Leaving the Good Life is a vivid self-portrait of an independent, committed and gifted woman. It is also an eloquent statement of what it means to grow old and to face death quietly, peacefully, and in control. At 88, Helen seems content to be nearing the end of her good life. As she puts it, "To have partaken of and to have given love is the greatest of life's rewards. There seems never an end to the loving that goes on forever and ever. Loving and leaving are part of living."

Helen's death in 1995 at the age of 92 marks the end of an era. Yet as Helen writes in her remarkable memoir, "When one door closes, another opens." As we search for a new understanding of the relationships between death and life, this book provides profound insights into the question of how we age and die.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Loving and Leaving the Good Life

Helen Nearing

Paperback $25.00