People have long used wild plants as food and medicine, and for a myriad of other important cultural applications. While these plants and the foraging activities associated with them have been
dismissed by some observers as secondary or supplementary—or even backward—their contributions to human survival and well-being are more significant than is often realized. Eating on the Wild
Side spans the history of human-plant interactions to examine how wild plants are used to meet medicinal, nutritional, and other human needs. Drawing on nonhuman primate studies, evidence from
prehistoric human populations, and field research among contemporary peoples practicing a range of subsistence strategies, the book focuses on the processes and human ecological implications of
gathering, semidomestication, and cultivation of plants that are unfamiliar to most of us. Contributions by distinguished cultural and biological anthropologists, paleobotanists, primatologists,
and ethnobiologists explore a number of issues such as the consumption of unpalatable and famine foods, the comparative assessment of aboriginal diets with those of colonists and later arrivals, and
the apparent self-treatment by sick chimpanzees with leaves shown to be pharmacologically active. Collectively, these articles offer a theoretical framework emphasizing the cultural evolutionary
processes that transform plants from wild to domesticated—with many steps in between—while placing wild plant use within current discussions surrounding biodiversity and its conservation.
Eating on the Wild Side makes an important contribution to our understanding of the links between biology and culture, describing the interface between diet, medicine, and natural products. By
showing how various societies have successfully utilized wild plants, it underscores the growing concern for preserving genetic diversity as it reveals a fascinating chapter in the human ecology.
CONTENTS 1. The Cull of the Wild, Nina L. Etkin
The value and contribution of this book is not just as a mere survey of plants; rather, it attempts successfully to indicate and share with the reader how plants contributed to shaping several very different societies. . . . Most rewarding.
—Forest and Conservation History
A most important and serious collection of papers on the relevance of wild species of plants to people since human life began.
—Biodiversity and Conservation
It leaves no doubt about the importance of noncultigens in human diets and healing activities.
A wonderful, thought-provoking collection.
2. Agriculture and the Acquisition of Medicinal Plant Knowledge, Michael H. Logan & Anna R. Dixon
3. Ambivalence to the
Palatability Factors in Wild Food Plants, Timothy Johns
4. Wild Plants as Cultural Adaptations to Food Stress, Rebecca Huss-Ashmore & Susan L. Johnston Physiologic Implications of Wild Plant
5. Pharmacologic Implications of "Wild" Plants in Hausa Diet, Nina L. Etkin & Paul J. Ross
6. Wild Plants as Food and Medicine in Polynesia, Paul Alan Cox
of "Wild" Plant Foods Used by Indigenous Populations in Amazonia, Darna L. Dufour & Warren M. Wilson
8. The Health Significance of Wild Plants for the Siona and Secoya, William T. Vickers
North American Food and Drug Plants, Daniel M. Moerman Wild Plants in Prehistory
10. Interpreting Wild Plant Foods in the Archaeological Record, Frances B. King
11. Coprolite Evidence for
Prehistoric Foodstuffs, Condiments, and Medicines, Heather B. Trigg, Richard I. Ford, John G. Moore & Louise D. Jessop Plants and Nonhuman Primates
12. Nonhuman Primate Self-Medication with Wild
Plant Foods, Kenneth E. Glander
13. Wild Plant Use by Pregnant and Lactating Ringtail Lemurs, with Implications for Early Hominid Foraging, Michelle L. Sauther Epilogue
14. In Search of
Keystone Societies, Brien A. Meilleur