The Wilderness Cure

The Wilderness Cure, by Mo Wilde, June 2022. Simon and Schuster, ISBN: 978-1398508637, 368 pages. RRP £16.99 (hardback)

This book is a record of the author’s decision to eat only food foraged from the wild for a year. Wilde is generally vegetarian, but recognises that to have enough calories in the winter she will have to eat meat and fish; these are hunted or fished by friends.
She starts in November, without having decided at a time when she could have preserved more summer and autumn foods, but as she says, she is impetuous.

What follows are descriptions of foraging and her joy at being out in nature, along with some tantalising menus. These include: squirrel marinaded in sea buckthorn juice and wild raspberry vinegar;  acorn and chestnut flours used for batter and biscuits; vinaigrette of elderberry vinegar and birch sap syrup; haw ketchup, sea arrowgrass and Few-flowered leek tarts, with shells made of acorn and chestnut flour bound with deer fat. She collects, prepares and uses many more ingredients, along with a wide variety of mushrooms. Looking at the names conveys the amount of time and energy that has gone into searching for and preparing the food. She has researched which plants that can be used as food or medicine, and their locations – no small undertaking.

Along these descriptions of food and foraging are reflections and information on diet, Stone Age practice, and some consequences of the way we live today. She loses considerable weight in the year, and reflects on the hormones of leptin and ghrelin that suppress or increase appetite, in a healthy way for hunter gatherers, but not for us today. We also learn of the struggle, particularly in February with no green leaves to pick, concerns about running out of certain foods, which our ancestors would have known well, and her longing for some foods she cannot have by foraging. She gives love and care to the process of skinning animals, using Stone Age type tools, trusting that their deaths are not wasted. For Wilde, the connection with nature is tangible and spiritual and feeds her soul. She encourages this life-giving contact, underlining the care foragers must give to not depleting the plants they take.

At the back of the book is a list of edible wild foods, but with no pictures, so I was left thinking that two companion books are needed with the Wilderness Cure: one of the plants, with pictures, habitat and descriptions, and another of her recipes, including how to prepare the wild food for use. This is a fascinating book describing an alternative way of life that will either have you wanting to try some of the ideas, or else be very grateful for the work of farmers and availability of convenience food.

Chris Polhill



Author: Ed Beale | Date: 24 February, 2023 | Category: Book Reviews | Comments: 1

Comments on "The Wilderness Cure"

Mo Wilde:

June 6, 2023

Thank you for reading and reviewing the book. I always recommend one of the excellent field guides already published on plants or fungi to help with identification. One book is never big enough! :)

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