By Chris Ruiz – The Bug Out Bag Guide
Feeding yourself off the land can be a challenge even in favorable conditions and is one of the most important bushcraft skills to learn. It takes a good knowledge of local plants and animals as well as the ability to actually catch or gather them to make a meal. The field of bushcraft has lots of ways to make this easier. For more basic information on getting started with Bushcraft, check out our article HERE.
Bushcraft Skills: Foraging for edible plants
Being able to forage for your dinner requires an in depth knowledge of the plants in your area. You need to know not only what you CAN eat but also what you CAN’T eat.
What to look for
- Roots and tubers: Roots and tubers are found in the soil underneath the vine or stalk of a plant. They are very nutritious but usually require cooking or boiling. Potatoes, yams, and onions are all either roots or tubers.
- Grasses: The young whitish tips of many grasses are edible and often palatable. They can be eaten raw
- Seeds & Nuts: The seeds and nuts of many plants are edible and provide a good source of nutrition. If you taste a seed or nut and it has a bitter or acidic quality it is probably not safe to eat. Frequently seeds and nuts can be made safe to eat by soaking them for 12 hours in water or boiling.
- Fruit & Berries: We are used to seeing fruit in our supermarkets on a regular basis but it is important to note that the apples, pears, and bananas we consume are the product of thousands of years of cultivation by farmers. Many berries and fruits found in the wild can be harmful if eaten. Generally any fruit that is red in color should be avoided. Unless you are sure a fruit or berry is safe to eat these are best avoided.
- Leaves: The leaves of many plants are edible both raw and after boiling. Some palatable ones to seek out are watercress and nettles (be careful when picking nettles as they can sting), both of which often grow near freshwater streams. Beware leaves that have a strong bitter taste.
Things to avoid:
An important part of bushcraft foraging is knowing what to avoid. Remember that there are exceptions to every rule so it is best to educate yourself about your local plants as much as possible. Here are some general guidelines to follow.