A writer and anthropologist searches for wild foods – and reveals what we lose in a world where wildness itself is misunderstood, commodified, and hotly pursued.
Two centuries ago, nearly half the North American diet was found in the wild. Today, so-called "wild foods" are becoming expensive commodities, served to the wealthy in top restaurants. In Feasting Wild, geographer and anthropologist Gina Rae La Cerva traces our relationship to wild foods and shows what we sacrifice when we domesticate them – including biodiversity, Indigenous knowledge, and an important connection to nature.
Along the way, she samples wild foods herself, sipping elusive bird's nest soup in Borneo and smuggling Swedish moose meat home in her suitcase. Thoughtful, ambitious, and wide-ranging, Feasting Wild challenges us to take a closer look at the way we eat today.
Gina Rae La Cerva is a geographer, environmental anthropologist, and award-winning writer who has travelled extensively to research a variety of environmental and food-related topics. A National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, La Cerva holds a Master of Environmental Science from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a Master of Philosophy from the University of Cambridge. Originally from New Mexico, she lives in New York, NY.
"An intense and illuminating travelogue [...] offer[ing] a corrective to the patriarchal white gaze promoted by globetrotting eaters like Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern. La Cerva combines environmental history with feminist memoir to craft a narrative that's more in tune with recent works by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Helen Macdonald and Elizabeth Rush."
– The Wall Street Journal
"A memorable, genre-defying work that blends anthropology and adventure."
– Elizabeth Kolbert, New York Times-bestselling author of The Sixth Extinction
"Delves into not only what we eat around the world, but what we once ate and what we have lost since then."
– A New York Times Book Review Summer Reading Selection
"La Cerva's beautifully written narrative is as tantalizing as it is edifying."
– Publishers Weekly, starred review
"It is rare these days to find a food book with a truly original take on food. Feasting Wild gives you a great deal to think about and at the same time is a pleasure to read."
– Mark Kurlansky, New York Times bestselling author of Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of Their Common Fate and Salt: A World History
"An extraordinary book. My mouth watered, my mind expanded, and my heart broke and was remade through this superb writing."
– David George Haskell, author of Pulitzer finalist The Forest Unseen
"This is the food book I've always wanted to read – a witty, illuminating, and beautifully written travelogue that rightly centers the historical role of women and the importance of Indigenous knowledge. Throw away the trite faux-wisdom of dietitians and gorge yourself instead on the charming platter that Gina Rae La Cerva has served up."
– Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes
"A delightful culinary travel book."
– Outside Magazine
"La Cerva reveals the landscape in brightly lit detail and gives generously of herself, and the result makes for a suitably satisfying feast."
– Science Magazine
"By turns lyrical, melancholy, and invigorating, Feasting Wild is an enthralling and necessary meditation on what it means to love the feral in a world increasingly of our making."
– Taras Grescoe, author of Possess the Air, Straphanger, and Bottomfeeder
"Eloquent and utterly original. Page after page I savored the thrill of a sentence driving home a surprising new way to think about the world."
– George Johnson, author of The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments
"Feasting Wild is a rich literary banquet, its pages a smorgasbord of intrepid travelogue, unflinching memoir, and keen ecological history. Where the worldviews of Cheryl Strayed and Michael Pollan converge, you'll find this perspective, big-hearted, beautifully crafted book."
– Ben Goldfarb, author of Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter
"La Cerva demonstrates her ability for diligent observation, and [...] offers glimpses of human activities that have grown increasingly rare."
– Kirkus Reviews
"A curious, passionate, and beautifully poetic book. La Cerva uncovers something essential about our enduring desire for wildness in a world where it is rapidly vanishing."
– James Prosek, artist and author of Trout: An Illustarted History
"Gina Rae La Cerva is a modern-day hunter-gatherer, scouring the planet to bring us delicious stories and lessons about our world. Her writing is original and thought-provoking, and even though it's not always palatable how we've transformed our native flora and fauna, her adventurous storytelling is endlessly satisfying."
– Daniel Stone, author of The Food Explorer
"Gina Rae La Cerva's engrossing book celebrates wild-harvested food but also mourns it, showing how plentiful staples have dwindled time and again to overexploited luxuries. Mixing memoir, travelogue, and environmental history, Feasting Wild is a lyrical and lucid exploration of hunger and fulfillment, richly detailed and beautifully told."
– Thor Hanson, author of Buzz and The Triumph of Seeds
"[La Cerva's] writing pulls together personal narrative and research in a way that is not only accessible, but intensely revealing, taking us back through time, across oceans and land, and impressing upon us all that is lost when we forgo or commodify wildness."
– Madison Cruz, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI