Foraging for Food in the Wild
For most people, the idea of food from the wild comes down to hunting or fishing. These are two methods that will get you food from the wild. Still, there is another world out there, if you take the time to learn about it. Of course, I am talking about foraging. I mean gathering food that doesn’t move with your hands.
Lots of people think that foraging is an ineffective way gather food because you are eating leaves and grasses. Well, that’s one way to look at it but it’s the wrong way. Foraging encompasses many aspects of gathering wild food. Would you be surprised if I said that collecting fresh water mussels is considered foraging? It most certainly is.
Let’s talk about the humble dandelion for a second. In regard to foraging you can use the young leaves to eat raw, older leaves to sauté, flowers to make dandelion wine and the roots can be roasted and ground to make something like coffee. That is an impressive resume from one simple flower!
After that you can factor in the idea of trees. Now that’s a four seasons resource but you can eat the nuts, fruits and even the inner bark of some trees. Not to mention a pine needle tea is packed with Vitamin C and will help you out with all sorts of things.
Of course, the key to foraging is all about being able to discern one plant from another. This can only happen if you practice, a lot. One of the best ways to do this is to head out on a nice run at a local park or in the woods. This will get you familiar with the diverse types of plants in your area.
You will also need an effective field guide. The one I used when I started foraging was the Petersons Field Guide to Wild Edible Plants in Eastern and Central North America. Study your guide and get out there to identify.
There are look alike plants out there as well. You need to be aware of these. They look just like something you would eat and often times live in the same areas. Don’t fall for them or it will cost you a stomach ache at the least.