Free Feral Food ~ The Missing Link in Prepper Pantries

by Todd Walker

Before the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago, our ancestors hunted and gathered feral food. The plants they foraged contained phytonutrients absorbed through the ground, sun, moon, and air.

Before you click away to search for a conventional way to obtain vital nutrients to supplement your pantry, you need to know the benefits foraging feral foods.

What do I mean by feral food?

The dictionary defines feral as: not domesticated or cultivated; uncivilized, untamed, uncontrolled.

You get the picture. Feral + Food = Nutrient Dense Food

But I like sweet corn! Do I have to give it up?

Nope. Just know that this mutated weakling has little nutritional value compared to its wild cousin.

Source: Nutritional Weaklings in the Supermarket

A New York Times opinion piece by Jo Robinson demonstrates that modern agriculture has breed nutrients out of our food. Open the graphic above and take a look at what’s missing in your pantry of conventionally cultivated foods. Don’t be fooled by Madison Avenue’s slick ads for BigAg and our Industrial Food Machine and its mono-crops. It may look like it’s loaded with nutrition, but it’s just imitates real food.

I’ve interviewed U.S.D.A. plant breeders who have spent a decade or more developing a new variety of pear or carrot without once measuring its nutritional content. We can’t increase the health benefits of our produce if we don’t know which nutrients it contains. Ultimately, we need more than an admonition to eat a greater quantity of fruits and vegetables: we need more fruits and vegetables that have the nutrients we require for optimum health.” 

- Source

Benefits of being a feral foodie

Instead of putting your survival and health on the line, you should build redundancy in your foodstuffs. We all know and understand the danger of depending on only one source for anything. Two is one – one is none. So, start supplementing your dinner plate with wild stuff.

Here’s a few benefits of our free feral food.

  • They’re everywhere. An entire industry has been created to stop their spread. The manicured lawn owner shrieks in horror when the neighbor’s child blows her freshly picked dandelion seed head from across the street! It’s a losing battle trying to tame these wild things.
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals that are absent in conventional, tamed food.
  • In a survival situation, these foods can not only keep you alive, but help you thrive.
  • Low maintenance. Unlike their civilized garden cousins, feral foods don’t have to be watered, fertilized, or cultivated. They just do what they were bred to do – grow wild – even in extreme conditions.
  • Here’s the best part – they’re FREE! They also can supplement expensive vitamins. A local organic farmer even makes money selling dandelion greens at our local farmers market. But you can harvest your own and save money. Just make sure the area hasn’t been contaminated with pesticides and other chemicals.

Don’t Plow Under Your Garden

What am I suggesting? Ditch your garden and let the weeds take over?

No.

I’m not delusional. I totally get that our modern lifestyle doesn’t allow us to spend hours harvesting wild food. Feral foods don’t grow in office cubicles where many of us spend most of our working lives. You’re doing good just to grow a garden now a days.

What I am saying is…

Get in touch with your wild side – one weed at a time. Gradually adding feral foods is the strategy.

A teaching buddy of mine and I often wonder who was the first human to eat stinging nettles. The conversation may have gone like this.

“All righty then. Grok, you drew the short straw. Try this one!”

Not a recommended edibility test! You might wind up dead.

First, learn to properly identify edible feral food. There are several books and resources that can help you get started. The best method would be for you to find a local wild food expert and learn from him or her. My buddy Durable Faith has found such an expert a few miles from his home and is learning from her. He’s also practicing permaculture – caring for wild spaces that already exist to benefit his family.

Crunchy Mama has contributed articles here that will help you connect with your true nature on her wild food adventures. There are video tutorials available as well on your web surfing machine. I like Eat the Weeds.

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Even More Feral Food Resources

Start adding feral foods to supplement your family’s eating plan. If an event happens that stops the food delivery system to your super market, you’d be one step ahead if you’re already practiced in eating feral foods.

Here’s my usual disclaimer: You should never eat feral foods without checking with a local wild food expert.

There! I feel better.

What do you think? Are feral foods a viable food option for optimizing your preps and health? Let us know your wild thoughts in the comments, please.

Keep doing the stuff,

Todd

P.S.

As always, if you like what you’ve read, please share it if you think it will add value to your tribe!

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Categories: Bushcraft, Natural Health, Primal Skills, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

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18 thoughts on “Free Feral Food ~ The Missing Link in Prepper Pantries

  1. Thanks Todd. Eat the Weeds will be a great new source of information.

  2. Thanks for this information Todd. Makes me wonder how many people starve to death in the woods, surrounded by dandelions :-)

  3. Diana Litaker

    My volunteer tomatoes that come up from last year’s tomatoes that fell on the ground always out perform my transplants. Good article. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Great post! I just purchased the wild edibles app by Steve Brill and it is nice — even the lite (free) version is great. I’m fixin’ to write my next wild edible post on another favorite of mine — purslane (which just read is an indicator of fertile soil; I have lots in my big organic garden!) BTW, I just added a page to my blog about my favorite resources for learning about wild (or, as you say, feral) foods: http://crunchymamasurbanhomestead.wordpress.com/homesteading-and-plant-resources-that-i-use-and-recommend/ :)

    • Great resource page :) Just tweeted it! The app is cool because I’m never without my phone…except when I can’t find it.

      • I find it funny that some people rip wild edibles app’s because “if you’re in survival situation and your phone works then you could call for help” or something similar. Well, my answer to that is that there is a growing number of folks who are NOT in survival situations but want free, local, nutritious food for their everyday food needs. Additionally, if you anticipate ever being in a survival situation, you should start practicing the identification and consumption of wild edibles NOW while you are not stressed out. Here is one of the most important things about eating wild edibles: you MUST know at what stage and what part of the plant is edible and then you must know how to prepare it for safe consumption. If you are in a survival situation and cannot “boil in 3 changes of water” for example then you must know what plants can be eaten raw. And, really, body temperature regulation (via proper clothing, shelter, and water consumption) are much more important for short-term survival situations anyway. Okay, I’m done. :)

      • “Okay, I’m done.” I know you better than that ;)

        Great points. I was thinking the same about phone apps. You’re right on. Getting in the woods or yard and doing the stuff before you actually need the stuff is what this stuff is all about, right?

        I’ll be using your comment soon :)
        Happy Foraging Friday!

  5. Perhaps I can do you one better.
    In many places there is a right to “gleening”. Gleening is an anchant
    concept that pre-dates the Bible. Throughout history, the poor in
    society have had the right to go into a farm field, after the crop has been harvested, and pick up whatever’s left.
    I lived on a farm for a couple of years. Mechanical harvesting machines waste countlless tons of food each year. Every time a corn harvester turns around it knocks down corn at the end of the rows. A mechanical bean harvester only picks about 90% of the beans on the bush. Typically the been crop will be plowed under in a day or two after havesting. But, between the harvesting and the plowing many bushels of beans can still be hand picked.
    Ask around in your rural area if the farmers are aware of the Gleening tradition. If they are, keep an eye on the crops in their fields. Watch for when the harvesting is taking place. Stay out of the fields until the harvesting is done. When the equipment is out of the field, and all the crop has been picked, that is when you can walk onto the property and clean up what’s left.
    Gleeners came onto the farm I lived on after a crop was harvested both years. The only problem was that once i had to chase off a women who had her kids running through the corn rows gleening while the corn was still being harvested. It was a safety issue.

    • Hi Lou, thanks for mentioning gleening. I think the practice would turn into something like another ancient biblical event – locust swarms. As you mentioned at the end of you comment. I can see it turning ugly fast on the farms I grew up around.

  6. Maria Elena Van Yurick

    First of all , thank you Survival Sherpa, very good useful information. I wonder if you have any contacts/ information/articles about free feral foods in Latin America. I live in Chile and I know a little about wild plants, but I want to know more, to eat and protect.

    • Hi Maria, so glad to hear from you and of your interest in feral foods. Welcome to our community!

      I’m afraid I have no experience with wild food in South America. I would recommend that you talk to locals in your area to find out who is reputable in wild food foraging. You may have an expert living near you that would be a great resource.

      Good luck with your journey, Maria! Please stay in touch and keep us updated.

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