Posts Tagged With: foraging wild foods

Wild Resources: Only a Fool Comes Home Empty Handed!

by Todd Walker

Wild Resources: Only a Fool Comes Home Empty Handed ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I recently took three of my students on a scout through a patch of woods surrounding our school to select a route to simulate the Trail of Tears they were studying. This was nothing close to the tragic event of the Cherokee people being rounded up and forcibly removed from tribal homelands. For our students, a short walk in the woods was better than sitting in a cramped desk reading about this dark time in our country’s history.

Students hit the trail with their belongings; books, book bags, and whatever they wore to school. Many were ill prepared for the mid-30 degree weather. Our first stop was a persimmon tree with fruit in different stages of ripeness. The bravest students shared in the bounty with me.

There is no way to carry enough provisions to sustain you on a grueling 800 mile journey. Foraging was essential. The inner layer of bark from a pine tree was also sampled. A few of the students chewed the uncooked phloem (inner bark) like chewing gum. When cooked over a fire, this layer of bark provides food filled with nutrients and vitamins. Adding a cup of pine needle tea from said tree will boost vitamin intake.

A quick demonstration of the essential tool of humanity, fire, came at the end of our simulation. Flint and pyrites were the precursor to modern flint and steel which the Cherokee obtained through trade. Further in the past, friction methods would have provided fire.

There were no convenience stores or outfitter shops along the way to Indian Territory. The logistics of moving groups of a thousand or more souls (new born to elders) through a rugged landscape in modern times would be a nightmare. We can only imagine the horrible conditions encountered in 1838. While some were fortunate to have a horse or wagon for conveyance, the majority carried their burdens on foot.

We can only imagine the hardships faced during their forced removal. Our brief exercise was instructive. Many questions came throughout the walk. Collecting resources for food, clothing, and shelter to sustain one family, much less groups of 1,000, would take extensive knowledge and experience which Native Americans had used for thousands of years.

Only a Fool Comes Home Empty Handed!

In Postcards from the Past, Scott Jones, my friend and prehistory mentor, offers the perfect quote describing me in this Eskimo saying, “… only a fool comes home empty handed!

Rock On

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Making expedient cobble stone tools using bipolar percussion at one of Scott Jones’ workshops.

 

In the view of a tenderfoot, the basketball-sized rock we spotted on our initial scout trip was nothing special. It was just a heavy rock. All three of the young men looked at me like I was crazy as I hoisted it to my shoulder and continued walking. Midway back I passed my burden to one of them. One doesn’t simply walk past a piece of chert that size. One either carries it home or remembers the location for later retrieval.

Below is a 34 second video I shot using the rock to start a fire…

Chert, a sedimentary rock, was a favorite stone for prehistory tool makers. Today its curvy conchoidal fracture and hardness allows modern flint-knappers to shape primitive projectile points and cutting tools. Chert can be found in earthy colors ranging from white to black with a waxy, smooth luster when fractured. Quartz and quartzite are rocks I carry home often.

Sticks and Bones

My favorite wood types are those who swallowed fire, as Mark Warren says. Fast-growing soft woods such as cedar, tulip poplar, basswood, sassafras, white pine, willow, and mimosa to name a few, are more porous. When rubbed together skillfully, they readily give up the fire they swallowed.

More info on some of my favorite trees can be found here.

My tree collection, much to Dirt Road Girl’s chagrin, takes up a sizable portion of our backyard. Lots of Eastern Red Cedar continues to be added for benches and furniture… which makes DRG smile.

Wild Resources: Only a Fool Comes Home Empty Handed ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Black Walnut split and ready for carving.

Wooden utensils such as spoons, bowls, cutting boards, and kuksas are waiting inside my woodpile. Wood plays a vital role for camp comforts… and not just as firewood. The following wood projects made from trees and other woody plants may help channel your inner woodsman…

Wild Resources: Only a Fool Comes Home Empty Handed ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A load of resources!

Bones are a useful resource I run across from time to time in my woods tramping. A five gallon bucket in my shop contains remains of different woodland critters. Antlers make wonderful tools and functional accents for my leather work. I’m certainly not opposed to pulling to the curb to collect road kill. Some of my most prized roadside finds include beaver, bobcat, and deer.

Wild Pantry  

Wild Resources: Only a Fool Comes Home Empty Handed ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Chanterelles foraged this past spring at base camp.

As noted above, collecting wild food on hikes is a fun way to supplement your food cache. Just remember that every plant is edible… ONCE. This statement isn’t about foraging fear-mongering, of course there are poisonous plants in the wilderness. But with proper guidance from an experienced foragers, anyone can enjoy wildcrafting.

Check out this page on our blog for further reading.

Feral Pharmacy

I’m not a herbalist but have found this pursuit a healing hobby. For professional training in the southeastern U.S., I recommend Daryl Patton, The Southern Herbalist and Mark Warren of Medicine Bow.

Weeds, plants, clay, and trees were all used before modern medicine for the purpose of healing and preventive health maintenance. Documentation shows that the 19th century Cherokee people used about one-third of the 2,400 species of plants available to them in southern Appalachia for food and medicine.

Below are a few links to articles we’ve written which may help you broaden your view on useful plants for your medicine cabinet:

Trail of Tears Remembered

Wild Resources: Only a Fool Comes Home Empty Handed ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A short walk of remembrance.

Our short simulation was simply an attempt to open student’s eyes to life and death on the Trail of Tears. An estimated 15,000 to 16,000 Cherokee started this journey. Even with their extensive foraging knowledge, over 3,000 lives were lost to disease, exposure, and starvation along the way.

It is my hope that our simulation gave our students a small glimpse of this historic tragedy. May we all remember.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

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Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Herbal Remedies, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

Hunt-Gather-Eat: Identifying Plants the Real Food Eats

by Todd Walker

At our spring Georgia Bushcraft campout, Chris Noble began his Plant I.D. class with seven wise words written on the white board…

“Plants are what the real food eats!”

Wild edibles are popular among survivalists and outdoorsy types. Would you survive the learning curve if you were dependent on wild food only?

Hunt-Gather-Eat- Identifying Plants the Real Food Eats - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

We have several articles parked on our Foraging Feral Food page. However, foraging is a hobby of mine and is used to supplement my diet and knowledge base. The supplementary part (knowledge) is what the average person, like myself, should concentrate on when learning to forage. More specifically, which plants are favorites of your local Real Food (animals)?

The idea of long-term survivability as a vegan without our modern food delivery system would be, in my mind, starving times. Even omnivores would be hard pressed to feed their family if semi-trucks stopped rolling. If you’re reading as a vegan, this is not a slam on your food choices. I have nothing against vegetarians or vegans… except for the occasional radical who bashes bacon. In my wild foraging experience, learning to safely identify wild edibles takes time, experience, and preferably guidance from someone with actual expertise in the field. This is not to say living off the landscape can’t be done by hobby foragers. It’s just unlikely.

Crop cultivation signaled the beginning of the end of our hunter-gatherer lifestyle 10,000 years ago. Today, the domestication of our species seems to be complete… almost. Our wild genes remain but must be reprogrammed.

Like any other skill, harvesting the Real Food (non-farm raised) will require hunting and trapping wild animals. Ethical practices should be followed. This is not about killing “trophies.” This is about feeding your family Real Food in hard times.

Favorite Plants of the Real Food 

Most creatures in the Eastern woodlands with fins, fur, and/or feathers are edible, with a few exceptions, and, of course, personal bias. Crawlers and scaly critters aren’t off the menu either.

Having knowledge and familiarity of which plants wild animals prefer can help supplement your food supply. Understanding their habitats and patterns is also important. Even if you’ve never hunted or trapped wild game, or choose not to at this point, find these plants and the Real Food will follow. Below is a list of critters and their favorite munch-ables.

Whitetail Deer

Anyone who has ever grown a garden knows the damage deer can cause. Rows of young butter beans can turn into match sticks poking from the earth overnight. Farm land is a white-tailed deer smorgasbord. With no agriculture in an area, deer browse on a variety of foods available in different seasons.

IMG_0402

  • Browse: Twigs and leaves of woody plants, vines, and shrubs
  • Forbs: Broad leaved flowering plants (herbaceous)
  • Mast Crops: Acorns, hickory nuts, beechnuts, walnuts, pecans, etc.- In my experience, white oak mast is preferred over other oaks
  • Fruit: Apple, persimmon, muscadine (wild grapes), blackberry, mayapple, etc.
  • Fungi: Mushrooms
  • Grasses: Makes up less than 10% of their diet
A power line full of forbs.

A power line full of forbs.

White-tailed deer are typically most active during morning and evening hours. The “rut” (breeding season) in the fall causes bucks to throw caution to the wind in pursuit of receptive does. Conventional hunting wisdom is gone with the wind as well.

Bear

All bears are classified as carnivores even though most of their diet is plant-based. They are not shy about scavenging from trash cans, carrion, campsites, and landfills. Meat and fish, when available, add needed protein and fat to their diet.

This big boy drug our son's trash can to the edge of the woods to help himself in Florida.

This big boar drug our son’s trash can to the edge of the woods to help himself in Florida.

Seasonal plants, especially high-energy fruit, are favorites for bear.

  • Spring: First sprouting grasses and roots in areas where bears hibernate. Grubs and insects under decaying logs.
  • Summer and early fall: Blackberries, huckleberries, persimmon, blueberries, and, near human developments, fruit trees.
  • Fall: As berries disappear, foraging turns to fish and dead carcasses of animals.

Feral Hogs

In Georgia, and many other states, there is no closed season on feral swine. This non-native animal was introduced in North America in the 1500’s by explores. Wild hogs are opportunistic omnivores who can also play the role of predator. Not only a nuisance to landowners, they compete with native wildlife for food sources and destroy natural habitat.

Wild hogs are known carriers of disease and parasites which can be transferred to humans when butchering and consuming. Precautions should be taken when handling/processing a carcass. Wear rubber gloves, dispose of waste properly, cook meat to an internal temperature of 160ºF, wash hands with soap and warm water, and clean/disinfect surfaces/tools after butchering with a bleach solution.

Hogs range to find a wide variety of food in different seasons. Recognizing sign, habit and food sources is your best bet for locating wild hogs…

  • Tracks are more rounded with blunted toes than deer. Dew claw impressions are wider than the toe prints of white-tailed deer.
  • Wallows and tracks in creeks and ponds
  • Bedding areas created by rooting to find cool soil
  • Agriculture crops: corn, peanuts, soybean, watermelon, etc.
  • Large wire traps are used successfully by landowners to control pig populations

Small Game Animals

Part of developing a Possum Mentality applies to not only salvaging resources but trying new food sources. Are you willing to eat meat from mink, otter, raccoon, fox, coyote, opossum, muskrat, skunk, bobcat, and weasel? Sounds disgusting to our refined palate but many of these are abundant.

This post is already getting too long. We’ve only got space and time to cover one of the most prolific of small game animals…

Squirrel

This member of the rodent family deserves the nickname “tree rat.” Squirrels don’t just eat nuts and seeds from your bird feeder. They’re omnivores, and, at times, cannibals. Their favored habitat is deciduous forests but aren’t shy of pine trees. Their diet and habitat are very similar to deer.

  • Soft and Hard Mast: Acorns, hickory nuts, beechnuts, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, winged seeds of maple, tulip poplar blossoms (one of their springtime favorites), black cherry, fruits, mushrooms
  • Meat/Protein: Baby birds, eggs, lizards, insects, frogs
  • Picture what rats eat (most anything) and add a bushy tail to your mental image

Large rat traps are effective for passively harvesting squirrels. I’ve used peanut butter as bait in the past.

Fun Survival Fact: A squirrel’s nest may appear to be built in the same manner as a bird’s nest with an open roof when viewing from ground level. Not so. Squirrels need a roof over their head as shelter from the elements. Nature’s design for squirrels, an orb shaped home, can be modified for humans caught in the woods unexpectedly without cover. We will address their design in detail in an upcoming post on debris shelters.

 Birds

All birds are edible. However, not all birds are legal to kill and eat. They also produce another good survival food, eggs.

Wild turkey

Wild turkey

All birds do not eat seeds. Fish and insects make up the diet of many birds. Birds need water for hydration and bathing. The water’s edge is always a prime location to find food with fins, fur, and feathers.

To have a realistic chance of trapping a bird, understand their habits and fly patterns. Pellet rifles, sling shots, and bow and arrows were weapons of choice for me growing up to hone my hunting skills. Check your local laws first.

Fish

No worries about eating poisonous freshwater fish. To my knowledge, there are none. They all contain protein and fat and are fun to catch.

The 4 W’s of Wilderness Campsite Selection | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Rainbow trout on fly rod!

I’ll refer you to our article on fishing techniques for more ideas. Also, consider making a fish trap.

Snakes and Reptiles

I know, I know. People have an innate fear of slithers. But snake meat is tasty and can supplement your diet. Properly prepared, the meat does taste similar to chicken.

This water snakes is often times falsely accused of being a water moccasin.

Water snakes are often times falsely accused of being a water moccasin.

I have dispatched a water moccasin or two in the woods within striking distance of my dog (“Moose”) when my only options were a vet bill or a dead cotton mouth. Snakes are part of nature’s balancing act and are best left alone to do what they do… unless you really need to eat to survive.

A word of caution here. Snake metabolism is really slow so they die slowly. A rattlesnake may be cut in half by your garden hoe, but it can still deliver a strike and envenomation. A large number of people are bitten by venomous snakes after they’ve “killed” the serpent and pick it up to show their buddies.

Where to find snakes…

  • Where you least expect them but should… under the tarp in your woodpile.
  • In a wilderness setting, streams, swamps, ponds, lakes, dead logs, brush piles, etc.
  • Wherever rodents, birds, large insects, frogs, and lizards are plentiful
  • Warm/hot months in daytime hours: brush piles, holes, under fallen trees.

Other reptiles like alligator and turtle (MRE on the half-shell) are also good eating.

Really Small Eats

Opportunities to eat Real Food in the form of small stuff occur more often than finding a large four-legged meal. Again, the water’s edge is a smorgasbord in the wild.

Crawfish

The exoskeleton of crawfish (AKA – creek lobster, mud bugs, crawdads) encase some of the tastiest meat you’ll find in the woods. They can be trapped or caught by hand. I’ve caught them with a piece of bacon on the end of a string. They latch on and you pull them out of the water before they release. Trap bait can include fresh fish or animal guts or any form of fresh meat. I’ve discovered that they love bacon! The key is to load lots of fresh bait in your trap to keep ’em coming.

The woven funnel is inserted in one end of a hollow log with the other opening plugged to create a bushcraft crawfish trap.

The woven funnel is inserted in one end of a hollow log with the other opening plugged to create a bushcraft crawfish trap.

Insects

The most abundant non-plant edible on our planet. I’m not a bug eater, but I’d eat them if my survival were on the line. A rule of thumb when eating insects is…

Red, orange-yellow, forget this fellow. Black, green or brown, wolf it down.

To kill parasites, cook the protein-packed creepy-crawlers.

Additional Resources:

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Frugal Preps, Preparedness, Real Food, Self-reliance, SHTF, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hunger Games: Find this Wild Food and You’ll Never Starve

by Todd Walker

Hunger Games: Find this Wild Food and You'll Never Starve - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Two weekends ago I spent two days learning from a walking encyclopedia. Mark Warren operates Medicine Bow, a primitive school of Earthlore, in the north Georgia mountains near Dahlonega. Though I attended his Stalking/Tracking class, Mark’s willingness to veer onto other paths and integrate useful plants in the Eastern Woodlands only enhanced my learning experience.

One edible plant we discussed was Wapato (Sagittaria latifolia). Other common names include ~ Duck Potato, Arrowhead, Wapati, or Katniss.

I had an ‘ah ha’ moment with the common name Katniss

As a fan of The Hunger Games, I always wondered how the arrow-slinging heroine, Katniss Everdeen, received her unusual moniker. Now it makes perfect sense on two levels.

  1. Sagittaria in Latin means “arrow”. It also refers to the archer constellation Sagittarius. The obvious one, right?
  2. A lesser known botanical reason can be found in her deceased father’s words which Katniss recalls early on in the trilogy…

As long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve.

In keeping with the Hunger Games theme of this article, we’ll use the common name Katniss when referring to this wild food.

Katniss (Sagittaria latifolia) tubers were a staple in nature’s pantry for indigenous peoples of North America. Mark told us that the Cherokee of Appalachia cultivated this wild plant in wetland habitat as a sustainable food to feed their families. Roasted duck and duck potato sound delicious!

Katniss the Plant

The day before our class I snapped a few photos of a wetland near my school with a closeup of a toxic plant which resembles katniss. Mark took our class to a wetland area near a meadow to observe a patch of katniss. After comparing both plants, one can easily distinguish between the toxic Arrow Arum (Peltandra virginica) and edible katniss (S. latifolia).

Identification: Palmate vs. Pinnate

The leaves of katniss are palmate and arrow arum are pinnate. Leaves can vary greatly in size.

  • Palmate – leaves where the nerves radiate from a central point like a curved star burst.
Hunger Games: Find this Wild Food and You'll Never Starve - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Palmate pattern on Katniss

  •  Pinnate – leaves that have a main nerve (midrib) with other nerves branching off the full length of the midrib like a feather plume.

Pinnate pattern on Arrow Arum

A closeup of the pinnate pattern on Arrow Arum


A look at the entire Arrow Arum leaf

Arrow Arum leaf

Arrow Arum’s arrowhead-shaped leaf is often mistaken for katniss. With the side by side comparison above, it’s easy to see which is edible by the distinct difference in the leaf veins.

Arrow Arum found near Katniss

Arrow Arum in Katniss habitat

Katniss Habitat

Katniss can be found along shallow edges of ponds, streams, swamps, and bogs. Beaver habitat is another prime location for this aquatic plant.

A large beaver-manufactured wetland habitat near my school

A large beaver-manufactured wetland habitat near my school

Their range extends across North America in wetland areas except in extreme northern climates. Large colonies can be found in the shallows of lakes. Larger broadleaf arrowheads typically produce larger tubers.

Harvesting Katniss

Mike Rowe should do a Dirty Jobs episode on harvesting this aquatic food. Nothing about the process is clean. You can’t “cheat” by just pulling on the green stalk to reach the tubers. So roll up you sleeves and get ready for some mudslinging.

I trust and respect Samuel Thayer, author of The Forager’s Harvest. He’s been harvesting wild edibles since he was a kid. I tried his stomp method described on page 111.

Once you become an ‘expert’, you stop learning. There are many people with more foraging knowledge and experience than this novice forager.

But here’s the thing…

You and I will never deepen our knowledge or experience until we trade theory for ACTION. I’ve read books and articles about locating, identifying, and harvesting katniss. But this plant’s starchy tubers are more elusive than I had anticipated.

I have the locating and identification part down on katniss. Putting duck potatoes in my skillet has me stumped… for now.

I now know a few methods that do not produce desired results. Here are a few dirty lessons learned from my recent foraging foray in hot August humidity… waist deep in a Georgia mud bog.

Stomp Method

Traditionally, Cherokee women would wade barefooted into a colony of arrowhead and stomp around freeing the tubers from their muddy bed so they would float to the surface for easy pickings. Days of litter-free waterways and pristine shorelines are long gone. You may opt for an old pair of tennis shoes or waders to protect your feet from painfully locating Bubba’s broken beer bottle.

Fails, in my experience, are instructive. So are experienced foragers. I trust and respect Samuel Thayer, author of The Forager’s Harvest. Unlike me, Mr. Thayer has been Doing the Stuff of foraging wild food since his childhood. I tried his stomp method described on page 111.

Based on my personal experience, you’ll never fully appreciate this method until you’re waist deep in muck hoping you can break the Earth’s suction on your feet and return to solid land. Thayer’s harvesting accounts produced tubers consistently. All I got was muddy… and a bit smarter in the process.

Stomping in progress

Stomping in progress

Armed with hip waders and a walking stick I made my way to my friend’s property where a thick stand of katniss grows in the swampy end of their pond. The walking stick served two purposes: To move weeds in front of my feet to check for snakes; and, as a horizontal support on top of the bog surface to aid in my rescue from the jaws of waist-deep mud holes.

How hard can it be, right? Just jump into a thick clump of katniss and start stomping a man-size hole in the marsh. The embed tubers are supposed to break free from their rhizomes and float to the top of the water.

After an exhausting hour of thrashing and spinning in muck, not one tuber floated to the surface. In a long-term self-reliance situation, my haphazard expenditure of calories, with no return on investment, could be costly. This is the main reason we should trade theory for action to develop skills and techniques that actually work when it counts.

One other thought about harvesting wild food. Functional fitness should become a priority for anyone pursuing self-reliance. If modern systems fail, imagine the physical dilemma you’ll face harvesting food and performing daily tasks without an established base of fitness. Just a thought.

What went wrong?

Timing

After more research and asking online friends, my problem may stem from bad timing. That is, the tubers on our Georgia plants may not haven’t developed yet. We’re in the dog days of summer here. Katniss plants develop tubers later in the fall as a source of starch for the winter months.

More experimental foraging will take place in the same location in September and October, possibly as late as November. Once the arrowhead leaves turn brown and die back, larger tubers should be hiding in their mud beds under cold water. I image a campfire will come in handy on this adventure.

Other Methods from The Forager’s Harvest

  • Potato Hoe – Use a four-prong hoe to rake down into the mud bed to break the tubers free. From what I read, you have to rake a deep hole to reach the “tuber zone.” Thayer used the hoe while in a canoe and standing in the water with good success.
  • Hands – Locate the rhizomes and carefully trace down to the end to find the tuber. I attempted this method a few times as well.

I will not be tuber-less. I have faith that this wild food colony will give up her hidden treasure. Stay tuned for updates in my soggy saga. I will find this elusive Katniss tuber and not starve! Recipes will follow.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Food Storage, Functional Fitness, Preparedness, Primal Skills, Real Food, Self-reliance, Survival Skills, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Foraging Feral Food: Trout Lily

by Todd Walker Foraging Feral Food: The Trout Lily Craving feral food? Now’s the time to hit the woods. The Trout Lily is blooming!

Before going wild on this gem of the woodland, you should have an introduction to this short-lived blooming beauty. In the creek bottom near the shelter I’m building, the forest floor is covered with a yellow carpet of trout lilies. They are known to grow in huge colonies that can be hundreds of years old. The bulbed plant takes about seven years to produce a one-leafed plant. A two-leafed plant with a yellow flower on top of its red stem is a mature plant.

Its scientific name is Eryhronium americanum. You may know them by other common names: Fawn lily, Deer tongue, Adder’s tongue, or Dog’s-tooth violet. Someone along the way said the grayish green leaves with purplish brown spots resembled a brook trout.

The Dog’s-tooth handle was a mystery to me though. Nothing about the plant above ground shouted ‘dog’ or ‘tooth’. Upon digging a lily from the ground, the bulb (corm) resembles a dog’s canine tooth. The corm is edible and tastes sweet in early spring. By May the bulb has turned starchy. The entire plant is edible and has medicinal uses.

Be aware that the plant is considered an emetic – too much will cause vomiting. And they take seven years to mature, so only harvest sparingly from large colonies. A mature plant produces two mottled leaves and one flower. At this rate of growth, you can see why it takes hundreds of years to grow a huge colony.

Medicinal Uses

  • Native American women ate raw leaves to prevent conception
  • Root tea to reduce fever
  • Poultice from the crom is used to draw splinters and reduce swelling
  • Leave poultice is used on hard to heal ulcers and skin conditions
  • Fresh or dried leaves soften skin – always test for allergic reaction on a small area of your skin
  • From the early to mid Nineteenth century the plant was used to treat gout

 Edible Uses

  • The flower, leaves, and bulb are edible
  • Mass quantities will cause you to throw up – take it easy on them, unless you need to vomit
  • Crom/bulb can be roasted – raw they have a cucumber taste
  • Flowers are slightly sweet due to their nectar
  • Leaf tea
  • Ground croms can be used as a thickening agent for cooking

Other Uses

  • Native Americans chewed the bulb and spit the juice water to attract fish
Foraging Feral Food: The Trout Lily

The view across the creek at my shelter

Identification

Flower: The yellow Trout lily produces a single, nodding flower with six pedals. The flower closes at night and opens in the day light. The flower has both male and female sex organs.

Leaves: This perennial produces one to two lance-shaped leaves. A one leaf plant has not yet matured. Give it a year or seven. The stem of the plant is brownish-red.

Crom/bulb: The mature bulb resembles a dog’s canine tooth and is covered with a brown paper-like skin. Peel the skin before eating raw.

Habitat: In North America, Trout lilies grow in moist, rich soils in the eastern deciduous woodlands from Georgia to Canada. Get out and enjoy this lily while you can. The blooms only last through spring. Hope this was useful as you get some dirt time in this year.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Medical, Natural Health, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Foraging Feral Food: A Hobby Now ~ A Survival Skill Later

Editor’s note: I appreciate your patience with my blogging absence. DRG and I have been visiting our newest grandson who decided to show up 4 weeks early. I should be posting part 3 of The Pillars of Preparedness series tomorrow. Until then, Tess Pennington has graciously allowed me to republish this article from her site, Ready Nutrition. I’m excited to have a few of my articles on her website now!

Enjoy!

________________

Food Freebies in Your Own Backyard

by Tess Pennington

This article originally appeared at Ready Nutrition and is republished here with the author’s permission.

Even if you live in a city, you might be shocked to find out how much food is available, free for the taking. I’m not talking about shoplifting from the corner store – I’m talking about foraging.

In ancient times, humans were hunter/gatherers.  Gatherers spent the day seeking nuts, berries and edible plants. These items were then turned into a nutritious meal or beverage.

The first rule of foraging is BE ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE EATING. Foraging can be deadly if you eat the wrong thing.

The best way to learn to forage is to find someone who knows how to find all the best goodies. A teacher can speed the learning curve up immensely, and they are likely to know the best local places to find the items.

Unfortunately we can’t always find a willing instructor. If it turns out that you’re on your own, the next best option is a good field guide with photographs. You can often find field guides geared to your local terrain at hiking and camping stores.  Your local bookstore and Amazon are other good resources. You can buy a more general guide, say, for North America, but there will be a lot of information that isn’t pertinent to your area.

When foraging in an urban environment, you have to be very careful that your finds are not contaminated. They can be contaminated with many different toxins, from pesticides to pollution. You will want to stay away from major roadways and railroad tracks, for example. If you are in farm country you don’t want to be in an area that may be contaminated with animal waste from runoff.

Personally, I strictly avoid mushrooms in my search for wild foods. The edible mushrooms and the toxic ones are very similar in appearance, and not something you want to learn by trial and error, as the error could be fatal. There are many books on the subject that cover proper identification if you are a braver soul.

In the city you can often find fruit trees like mulberries and apple trees.  If it appears that the fruits are not being harvested, ask the owner’s permission and bring a bucket!  In the wild, you can find blueberries, blackberries and huckleberries in great abundance.  These fruits are easily recognizable and a great place to start.

There are many edible greens but none more recognizable than the ubiquitous dandelion. Every bit of the dandelion is edible, from the flower right down to the roots. Pick them in the spring when flowers are still yellow for the mildest flavor.

To get started, make a list of in-season items that are familiar to you. Choose a hiking destination, grab your field guide, bring along some containers and start gathering!

Mother Earth News compiled a brief list of some edible plants that can commonly be found in North America:

Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Chicory (Cichorium)
Curly dock (Rumex crispus)
Dandelion (Taraxacum)
Fiddleheads (various fern species)
Lamb’s quarters, goosefoot (Chenopdium)
Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
Nettle (Urtica)
Peppercress (Cardamine)
Pigweed (Amaranthus)
Plantain (Plantago)
Pokeweed (Phytolacca)
Purslane (Portulaca)
Seaweeds — dulse, kelp, laver, wrack
Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
Watercress (Nasturtium)
“Wild” asparagus (Asparagus officinalis ssp. prostratus)
Wild mustard (Brassica)
Wild horsemint, bee balm (Monarda punctata)

ROOTS, BULBS & TUBERS
Arrowhead, wapatoo (Sagittaria variabilis)
American lotus, water chinquapin (Nelumbo lutea)
Jerusalem artichoke, sunchoke (Helianthus tuberosus)
Ramps, ramson, wild leek (Allium tricoccum)
Burdock (Arctium)
Grassnut, California hyacinth (Brodiaea capitata)
Groundnut (Apios tuberosa)
Prairie turnip, Prairie potato (Psoralea esculenta)
Cattail (Typha latifolia)
Camas, quamash (Camassia esculenta)
Chufa, nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus)
Sego lily (Calochortus Nuttallii)
Coontie, Florida arrowroot (Zamia pumila)

FRUIT
Wild strawberry (Fragaria)
Red and black raspberry, wineberry (Rubus)
Blackberry (Rubus)
Blueberry (Vaccinium)
Wild grapes (Vitis)
Mulberry (Morus)
Juneberry, serviceberry (Amelanchier)
Chokeberry (Aronia)
Elderberry (Sambucus)
Wild cherry (Prunus)
Wild plum (Prunus)
Gooseberry (Ribes)
Buffalo currant (Ribes)
Persimmon (Diospyros)
Rose hips (Rosa)
Prickly pear, tuna (Opuntia)
Pawpaw (Asimina)

NUTS & SEEDS
Acorn (Quercus)
Beechnut (Fagus grandifolia)
Black walnut (Juglans nigra)
Butternut (Fuglans cinerea)
Chia (Salvia species)
Hickory (Carya)
Pecan (Carya illinoensis)
Pine nut, pinyon (Pinus species)
Sunflower (Helianthus species)
Wild rice (Zizania)

Once you’ve brought your bounty home, be certain to wash it very carefully. Look up instructions specific to the food before preparing it, because wild foods can have some unexpected peculiarities. For example, pokeweed can cause severe intestinal distress if you don’t change the water several times when boiling it.

There is little you can do to become more self-reliant than learning to find your own food in the wild. Today, foraging might be just another of your eccentric hobbies. Tomorrow, that eccentric hobby could save your life.

A few suggestions:

A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides)

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies

Wild Harvest: Edible Plants of the Pacific Northwest

Author’s bio:

Prepper's CookbookTess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years. Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com. You can also connect with Tess on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

 

Categories: Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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!

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

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