Wilderness Survival Foods
In a wilderness survival situation, the most important thing to consider is not food. You can survive for days or weeks without food. It is more important to find drinking water since you can only survive a few days without water. It’s also more important to find shelter from the elements and avoid injury than to find food immediately. However, you will need to replace the calories you burn if you are facing a long trek back to civilization, or you are facing extreme cold. On the other hand, having something in your stomach can help your state of mind. So being able to find food in an emergency can help your chances of survival.
What do you need to know about wilderness survival foods?
So how much knowledge do you need to pack into your brain about wilderness survival foods in order to survive in a crisis? It turns out that the task is not as daunting as you might at first suspect. If you’ve never considered how you would survive if lost in the wilderness without food, it might seem impossible to remember all this stuff. Actually, with a little knowledge that anyone can attain, you can find food in the wilderness that will sustain you until help arrives, or you can find your way back to civilization. If you learn simple facts about the animals in the area you will be in and a few of the wild edible plants that are abundant, you will be safe in knowing you can survive if it comes to that.
Animals and Birds
It might surprise you to know that every mammal in North America can be eaten if need be. You want to avoid the livers in some arctic animals, but other than those few, if it is warm-blooded it can be eaten. The birds of North America fall into the same category. All of them are edible if you need to find calories in a survival situation. You should build a fire and cook the meat well since many of these can carry parasites. You should also be sure and wash your hands after skinning or handling any of these too. For example, rabbits can carry tularemia, which can be transmitted to you if you don’t wash your hands well after skinning an infected animal.
Fish and Other Animals
All freshwater fish in North America are edible. They are easily cooked over a campfire. If you are lucky enough to be able to catch them, fish will make a tasty and warm dinner to fill your stomach. Amphibians and reptiles are also usually safe to eat if you remove the skin. Bullfrog legs are especially tasty treats if you can catch them. Snake meat is also tasty cooked over a fire. Just be careful and don’t get bitten by a pit viper looking for a meal. If this is your only option for meat, you may want to go vegetarian as described below.
Obviously, you will want to learn to identify a few edible plants in the area you will be going to. It’s a lot easier to know the edible plants in your home area. But if you plan a trip to the wilderness in an unfamiliar area, it would serve you well to learn a few of the edible plants in the area, or better still print out the photos of some of the plants off the internet and place the pages in a waterproof container. You may not want to depend totally on your memory when you are lost and hungry. You may also find reference materials you can purchase to carry with you. I live in the Southern US, so I bought a deck of playing cards which show the edible plants of the Southern US. There is a photo of the plant on the front, as well as information about the edible portions on the back, with instructions on how to prepare them.
For instance, if you are in lowland or wetland areas cattails are very abundant. They are rich in calories and the white part on the bottom of the stalks, as well as the new shoots, can be eaten raw or cooked. The tops can be boiled or roasted when green. If they are ripe they make an excellent fire starting material. The roots can also be boiled or mashed and added to a soup. The pollen can also be added to a soup to thicken it.
Pine trees can provide abundant sustenance. Open pine cones that have dropped to the ground contain pine nuts which are rich in nutrition. They also taste good. Pine pollen can be gathered in the spring from the make flowers and used in soups and stews. Green pine needles can actually be boiled to make a fine tasting tea. Take green pine needles and cut them into small pieces. Boil some water and place the needles into the water and let them steep for several minutes while the water cools. The water will turn a greenish-yellow color. Strain out the pine needles and enjoy a warm cup of pine needle tea. The white spongy part of pine bark is edible too.
Edible berries can be found in the right season. Most wild edible berries resemble their domesticated counterparts. Wild strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, etc. look similar to the ones you would buy in a store. They are usually smaller but they smell and taste like their domesticated cousins. Mulberries can be plentiful in spring and early summer and are safe to eat as well.
Although learning about which mushrooms and flowers are edible may be fun, these have few calories. You usually burn more calories hunting them that you will get in return by eating them. Instead, you want to research the most abundant plants in the area you will be in that are also rich in calories. These are the wilderness survival foods that will save your life.
In addition, it is always a good idea to carry some water and a metal canteen cup at a minimum. A canteen cup can be used to cook soups or stews over an open flame. It won’t do you any good to know your edible plants if all you can do is eat the portions which are able to be eaten raw. When you are cold a warm meal can lift your spirits and warm your cold body.
If you have suggestions for wilderness survival food please leave them for us in the comments below.