Cornucopia II: A Source Book of Edible Plants by Stephen Facciola

Cornucopia II: A Source Book of Edible Plants by Stephen Facciola
A potentially useful addition for a wild food library. This is a big book that is worth the $40 if you’re a hard-core wild food researcher. Cornucopia II is an informational and resource catalog potentially covering any plant in the world that has edible parts, not just ‘wild’ edibles of North America. There is, however, plenty of information related to wild foods within all the other content. Wild foods that have been cultivated at one time or another (and there are many) are included. Here is an overview of what you will find and how it could be useful to you.

Cornucopia II was designed primarily as a reference book for gardeners, farmers, crop researchers, genetic preservationists, and food product developers. But the author also had cooks, natural food enthusiasts, nutritionists, and those in the gourmet food business in mind. The content here is strictly reference – it is not based on personal experience with the plants. This book is not specifically about wild edibles, it just has lots of information about them scattered here and there. It has no photographs or illustrations, and contains no recipes.

Cornucopia II is divided into four parts. In the first part, ‘Botanical Listings’, thousands of plants (3,000 species, 7,000 plants) are listed by common and Latin names. About a paragraph of information describes some history, edibility, and any other prominent information. The second part, ‘Major Crop Plants’, lists varieties of specific species that have been cultivated at one time or another. Some of the species covered include black walnut, amaranth, butternut, chicory, currents, hickory nuts, etc. The third part, ‘Suppliers’, lists contact information for thousands of sources of plants and seeds. And the forth part, ‘Usage and Edible Parts’, lists categories like beverages, fats, fruits, gums, pollens, etc. Under each category is a long list of plants that provide the usable part.

This is a serious book for the serious researcher. How best would one use it? As a stepping stone to more detailed information. Let’s say that the common name for a mysterious food plant was mentioned (in a book, newspaper article, on TV, in a magazine) and you needed the plant’s Latin name and some basic information to help you investigate it further. Cornucopia II can do this for many edible plants. Or say you just want to begin investigating chocolate substitutes. This book can help you begin your investigation. Recommended for the ‘hard core’ wild food library. I’d also recommend it to food educators, library reference desks, and cooperative extension offices.

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