CA Mushrooms
CA Mushrooms

Book Review

The Scout’s Guide to Wild Edibles:
Learn How to Forage, Prepare & Eat 40 Wild Foods

By Mike Krebill
2016, St Lynn's Press, Pittsburgh
ISBN-10: 1943366063, ISBN-13: 9781943366064
192 pages; $19.95 at

I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive when I received a copy of The Scout’s Guide to Wild Edibles—I see a lot of guide books and how could this one possibly stand out in an already crowded field?

Turns out, this little guide book (it’s pocket-sized, as a true guide book should be, and comes in under 200 slim pages) has much to offer! The book covers many of the most commonly foraged wild edible mushrooms and plants from across North America; mushrooms included are of the “foolproof four” and their ilk (puffballs, morels, sulfur shelf, chanterelles, etc.); and the plants range from “forbs” like dandelion greens and stinging nettles, to berries and nuts. All good so far, but no doubt you already have books that cover those. Author Mike Krebill adds in many other features, though, with each and every description. Very good photos, plus how and when to collect, as well as information on preparation and storage. On preparation and storage there are of course some recipe ideas, all of which would be easy to do with kids. On harvesting stinging nettles there’s great advice on how to prevent severe skin irritation (been there, done that). On harvesting and hulling black walnuts, how to keep from ruining your clothes and irreversibly staining your hands (been there, done that too!). And when collecting acorns, how to sort good from bad (they tend to get grubs inside, which the author says his aquarium fish love!), shell, and soak before turning into delicious gluten free flour. Another really nice feature is that each description discusses sustainable collection and harvest. Thank you Mike Krebill, this is something all books that endorse foraging should be doing!

The author is very well suited to author a guide book geared towards Scouts (but not exclusively to Scouts— more on that in a minute), and a household name among foragers in the Midwest. Mike Krebill is an awardwinning life science teacher (retired after 35 years). He has been active in Scouting at every level, from Eagle Scout to Scoutmaster to leadership at the District and Council levels, and is the recipient of multiple awards for outstanding service (50 years as an edible wild plants educator). Considered by many to be one of the best foragers living today, he is a sought-after speaker at foraging events across the USA and is very active on social media foraging sites. He has been a featured presenter at the Wild Food Summit for eight years in a row and was botanical technical editor for nine recent books on foraging (including Sam Thayer’s Nature’s Garden and Leda Meredith’s The Forager’s Feast). He acknowledges many other authorities who assisted in producing this book, including many members of Iowa’s Prairie States Mycological Society who contributed excellent photos of mushrooms and reviewed the text for accuracy.

As stated, The Scout’s Guide to Wild Edibles is certainly pitched to Scouts and has many great ideas for projects, fund raisers, and activities, but any of this information would be fun and engaging for any beginner or group wanting to organize a foray or outing. And there are many great ideas to introduce kids of all ages to foraging for the first time! The size and scope is just right for beginning foragers. And so is the price. The book is under $20 at the St Lynns Press website (where you will find many other really interesting titles); I’ve seen the book listed at many online discount book sellers for a third less than the list price.

— Review by Britt Bunyard
— Originally published in Fungi