Go for a walk through a city park or down an alleyway with a knowledgeable botanist and you will be startled to learn of all the edible plants that grow, nay thrive, on their own in the most inhospitable of places. In Chicago, where I live, the bounty includes lamb’s quarters, staghorn sumac and purslane. In Philadelphia, where Zimbabwe-born Anesu Nyamupingidza resides, there is plenty more to discover, on the streets but also in her delicate, detailed botanical drawings. Her subjects include common butterwort, slender daylily, and wild flowers like the small lady slipper that have been extirpated in Pennsylvania. Also of concern are Huitlacoche—corn fungus to some, corn smut to others—which Nyamupingidza explores in a didactic pamphlet that discusses food rights as a human right, one sorely needing implementation in U.S. food policy. One way of doing that is as Nyamupingidza suggests, by appreciating the devalued edible flora that already surround us, not least the acorns that lie on the ground, unwanted, ready to be boiled, roasted and candied according to a recipe she provides.
—Lori Waxman 10/14/2023 1:34 PM