John Kallas

John Kallas is the owner, operator, and instructor at Wild Food Adventures outdoor school. He also manages the Institute for the Study of Edible Wild Plants and Other Foragables. John has been teaching about wild foods since 1978. He is the author of Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate — volume one in a planned multi-volume book series. Volume two should be out in late 2017. 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 has a Doctorate in nutrition, a Masters in education, and degrees in biology and zoology. He’s a trained botanist, nature photographer, writer, researcher

John Kallas emerging from a Michigan swamp with cattail shoots in 1973.

John Kallas emerging from a Michigan swamp with cattail shoots in 1973.

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 collection of thousands of images of edible wild plants, processing techniques, and finished dishes.

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 and continues to work on his multi-volume book series.