Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat
This is the best book on wild food to come out in the last few years. This period has seen a flood of titles published on the subject; publishers think they have found a hot niche and are scrambling to fill it as fast as they can. But luckily, a few authors whose passion for wild edibles dates back decades have taken the time to carefully put together really good books--Tom Elpel being one of them.
The photos are good and portray the edible parts at the time they are eaten, and often illustrate processing techniques as well. The non-glossy paper detracts somewhat from the quality of the photos in print, and makes the pages more easily damaged than they could be, but overall I'd rate the quality of the graphics at least a 4.
Compared to HD Harrington's "Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains" (which I'd rate a 4) this one has better graphics. It covers fewer plants (although still a very good number) but gives much greater detail on how to actually harvest and use them, and the writing seems to reflect much more foraging experience.
Compared to Gregory Tilford's "Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West" (which I'd rate a 4) this book is larger and focuses on edibles alone and therefore has much more info about the food plants it covers, and the author seems more knowledgeable--although the photos are not quite as good.
Compared to Liz Morgan's "Foraging the Rocky Mountains" (which I'd rate a 4) this one simply contains a lot more info, and the info is more accurate and reliable.
Compared to Bob Seebeck's "Best Tasting Wild Plants of Colorado and the Rockies" (which I'd rate a 5) this one is better just because it is bigger and goes into greater detail. But I really like Seebeck's book.
Compared to Linda Kershaw's "Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies" (which I'd rate a 4) this one, again, has more info and is more reliable. It reflects more personal experience and gives much better and more detailed instructions for using the plants.
Several of the above books seem fluffy (designed to take up pages) and to be written with little passion, by people who lack the lifelong interest and experience of Elpel. While any of them are a good investment for a forager in this region, If you are in the Mountain West, Tom Elpel's guide is the first wild food book I'd recommend. It is also great for the western Plains which have similar flora. For a serious wild foodie anywhere, this book has lots of new info and good ideas pertaining to plants that are widespread outside of its region of focus.