Foraging for Edible Food in a Chaotic Wasteland

| August 5, 2013 |

Finding food in a wasteland

If you’ve read some our other articles (for example on surviving a nuclear attack or other natural disasters), you probably know that the need to find food will, at one point or another, become paramount.  Depending on how prepared you are you may have a stock of food in an emergency kit to sustain you for some time, but depending on the type of predicament you find yourself in, that might not be enough.

In this article we’re going to go over some last-ditch measures you can take to avoid starvation or food poisoning in a post-apocalyptic type situation.

First of all, you need to know the land around you before anything catastrophic happens to it.  OK, you don’t have to, but it’s going to make things a hell of a lot easier on you if you do.  In most environments, edible plants are available, but if you don’t know which ones they are you’re going to be having to do some dangerous trial and error that can be avoided if you know what to look for beforehand.  When looking at local, edible plants, also look into which parts of the plants are edible and how they must be prepared (many plant roots can be eaten but need to be boiled before they are safe).

However, let’s say that it comes down to the worst possible scenario, and you don’t know what to eat; maybe the plants you’d prepared to look for aren’t in season or you just can’t find any without venturing too far or into a more dangerous environment.  What you’re going to have to do is find other plants and test them.

This process is tedious and can be dangerous, but it will be to your benefit if you have no other means of sustaining yourself.  First of all, make sure that the plant you’re going to be testing is available in abundance – there’s no point in testing a plant when there’s only a small amount around to eat should you determine it to be safe.  Once you discover something that is edible, you want to be able to live off of it for as long as possible.

Once you’re found your test plant, separate it into its different parts (berries, flowers, leaves, stalks, and roots, usually).  Once this is done, choose a part to test.  Usually roots are the best place to start, but if you don’t know anything about any part of the plant, it’s not necessary.  If you can boil whatever you’re going to test, do it.  If not, well, hope for the best (yikes!).

Before testing a plant, you’ll want to avoid eating for 7-8 hours, only drink water during this time.  When you’re ready, do the following:  Gently rub the plant on your skin for 5 minutes.  Place the plant on your inner lip for 15 minutes.  Place the plant on your tongue for 15 minutes.  Chew the plant for 15 minutes.  Swallow the plant and wait 8 hours.  You obviously want to do these steps in order, and if you experience a reaction at any stage DO NOT move on to the next stage, throw it away and try with a new plant if possible.  If you get all the way to eating the plant and then feel sick after, immediately induce vomiting to get it out of your system.

It’s a dirty process, but it works, and in a pinch knowing how to test a plant might just save your life.  Alternatively, you can try hunting or trapping, but I chose to focus on plants here because animals can be hard to come by, and hunting implements can be time-consuming and difficult to craft.  Either way, get familiar with your landscape and the flora and fauna it holds, and you’ll be in the best possible situation when disaster strikes!

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Category: Food And Water, How To Guides

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