Being able to find food that is safe to eat is one of the most critical skills that you can learn. Yes, you can live for three weeks without consuming food. But you will feel the negative effects of going without food in only one day. Headaches will start to set in and you’ll feel drained of energy, making survival more difficult.
This is why it is vitally important to be able to find natural food out in the wilderness. we will explain what plants and insects to find in the wild or what you should avoid eating in any circumstance.
Plants That You Should Avoid
The old adage that it’s better to be safe than sorry applies very well to survival. This means if you cannot identify a plant, you should avoid it.
In addition, avoid plants that meet any one of the following criteria:
- Plants with milky and/or colored Sap
- Plants with spines, thorns, and hairs
- Plants that taste bitter
- Seeds that are inside pods
- Plants that have black, purple, or pink spurs
- Plants with a three leaved pattern
The reason why you should avoid these types of plants is because these are signs that the plant is likely poisonous. Never even think of eating a poisonous plant, even if you are desperate. It’s more dangerous to eat a toxic plant than it is to not eat anything at all.
Plants You Should Look For
- the asparagus that you find in the wilds will be thinner than the kind you buy in the store, but it’s no less nutritious. Asparagus can be either eaten raw, or better yet, boiled.
- cattails tend to be found near sources of freshwater, and they served as part of the diet for many Native American tribes for years. You can eat the stem and the rootstock that’s underground; just wipe off the mud before eating. You can eat the stem raw if you want, but the leaves should be boiled before being eaten.
- if there’s an open grassy area, clovers are likely there. They are also easily identifiable. Clovers can be eaten either raw or boiled.
- in our day-to-day lives, dandelions are nothing more than an annoying weed. But in a survival situation, they could be a life saver. All parts of the dandelion are edible, but the leaves have a bitter taste that can be eliminated with boiling.
- Fireweed is noted for its purple colored flowers and the circular veins on the leaves; more importantly, it’s rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Fireweed served as a staple in the diet for many Native American tribes, like cattails. However, mature fireweed tastes bitter (though it is still edible), so it’s best to eat the fireweed when it is still young and less bitter.
- Kelp is a type of seaweed that is found almost everywhere in the world. Rich in Vitamin K, kelp can be eaten raw.
- In addition to being edible (so long as it is boiled), wood sorrel also has medicinal properties that were utilized by Native American tribes, who used it for treating mouth sores.
Insects That You Should Avoid
Let’s move on to insects, which are another perfectly viable source of food in a survival situation because they provide proteins and fats that plants don’t.
But like plants, there are some safety concerns to keep in mind with insects.
Avoid insects that meet any one of the following criteria:
- Insects that are brightly colored, especially orange, yellow, or red
- Insects that have a strong odor
- Insects that have a visible stinger
Insects That You Should Look For
All ants are edible, though they can be painful if they bite. You can prevent this if you kill them first by cooking them over a fire; this cooking process also eliminates the bitter taste that ants have to them that is reminiscent of vinegar. It’s also important that you remove any soil from the ants before eating, especially if you collect them from an anthill.
Caterpillars may not look edible, and certain types of them certainly have those bright colors that we just warned you about. But while there are definitely some species of caterpillar that are toxic, as long as you avoid the brightly colored ones you should be safe. Keep in mind that caterpillars are nothing more than larvae for butterflies and moths. They are packed with fat, protein, Vitamin B, and iron.
Grasshoppers and Locusts
They may be crunchy, but grasshoppers are an excellent source of protein and calcium. They can be eaten raw, but they’ll taste a lot better if they are fried over a fire first. Many people like to remove the legs of the grasshopper before eating, because the legs are the crunchiest part and may not go down well. Locusts is a term used to refer to grasshoppers in swarms. In a normal situation, locusts would be a major pest if not an all-out threat to crops and farms. But in a survival situation, it’s something to perhaps be thankful for because it’s an excellent opportunity to chow down on large quantities of grub.
If you ever come across a decaying log or tree stump, take the time to survey it for termites. These little guys are packed with proteins, more so even than other kinds of insects. A handful of termites could alone give you the protein boost that you need for the day. You’ll also have a greater chance of finding termites either in the rain or after a rainstorm has passed, because they prefer damp wood to dry wood.