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.
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.”
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?
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
- Wild Food Adventures
- Edible Wild Plants – Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate Volume 1 by John Kallas (H/T to Crunchy Mama)
- Wild Edible app for you smart phone
- Practical Survivor
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,
As always, if you like what you’ve read, please share it if you think it will add value to your tribe!
- Wild Food Survival: Can I Eat Those Mother’s Day Flowers? (survivalsherpa.wordpress.com)