John has a Doctorate in nutrition, a Masters in education, and degrees in biology and zoology. He’s a trained botanist, nature photographer, writer, researcher, and teacher. Dr. Kallas has researched edible wild plants since 1970 and taught in colleges, universities, and to the general public since 1978. He has taught and trained thousands of people about wild foods all over North America, given hundreds of wild food presentations to a variety of groups, amassed one of the largest personal wild food libraries in the country, and continues to build on his wild food/nature slide collection. Dr. Kallas started Wild Food Adventures in 1993, published the Wild Food Adventurer newsletter from 1996 – 2006, and volume 1 of the Wild Food Adventure Series, Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt to Plate in 2010.
John was born in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. In 1970 an interest in wilderness survival began his quest to know wild foods. Fed initially by Bradford Angier’s 1956 book How to Survive in the Woods and shortly thereafter by Allan Hall’s 1973 book, The Wild Food Trailguide, John seriously began studying and gathering edible wild plants. In 1974, he took his first 30 hours of study in wilderness survival, an introductory nutrition class and an independent study in edible wild plants. These academic pursuits were all in preparation for a 6 month vagabonding trip through Europe. By the end of that adventure, John was getting all of his vegetables from wild plants. Following that learning experience and encouragement from Michigan State University administrators and professors, John began teaching senior-level university classes in edible wild plants. He taught at MSU for 7 years.
While teaching and working on his Masters and Ph.D. degrees, John studied botany under Dr. John Beaman, Curator of the MSU herbarium. He also took conventional botany and taxonomy courses. Over the years, many wild food research expeditions were conducted, including ones to Washington D.C., North Carolina, West Virginia, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Washington State, California, British Columbia, and Alberta. The reason John pursued a Ph.D. in nutrition was to learn about nutrients, human physiology and biochemistry, cultural foodways, anthropology, food preparation, and nutritional toxicology in the context of wild foods — to advance the field of wild foods.
John moved to Oregon in 1989 where he continues his research and teaching. Since moving to Portland, he has taught wild food classes at Portland State University, Clackamas Community College, and Wild Food Adventures. As of January, 1994, Dr. Kallas has been running Wild Food Adventures as full time occupation.
John is currently working on the second volume of his Wild Food Adventure book series.