The main order of business when it comes to a serious survival scenario is finding food. Should you find yourself on the run, in a wild and completely new territory, fresh sources of food might not be that hard to find. The first thing you can get your hands on are all sorts of weeds, berries and meaty flowers that are nutritious and consistent enough to quell your hunger. There are plenty of types of climates and geographical zone with many varied fauna. But weeds, flowers, nuts and berries can be found almost everywhere and they’re characteristic to many many plants. However, just because something looks edible, doesn’t necessarily mean it is. You shouldn’t put your faith blindly in nature, especially in the wild. There are a few plants that are poisonous and toxic, and can cause irreparable damage. Knowing what goes in your mouth is imperative, as some wild plants could kill you in a matter of minutes after ingurgitation. And those that won’t kill you will certainly leave a mark on your respiratory, digestive and nervous system. Let’s have a look at some of the plants you can rely on for sustenance in case of a SHTF situation.
- Pine nuts
The pine nuts are an all American favorite and have been a main survival food ever since the days of the old West. The pine tree is distinct and easy to make out. The nuts themselves are very nutritious, as they measure about 1,200 – 1,500 calories per cup. Most of the content of a pine nut is made up of saturated fats, and the other half consists of carbs and proteins mostly. However, it those hold a vital and reliable dosage of vitamin B and other minerals; other chemical compounds worth mentioning are manganese and thiamin. So should you find yourself doomed to survive on pine nuts alone for a while, know that things could be far worse.
This tiny plan is basically a weed, as it grows randomly and uncontrollably on fertile soil. Although it’s a real pain in the neck when you find it amongst your prize-winning garden, ruining you perfect décor, the dandelion is more your friend than it is your enemy. This tiny plant has great medicinal value and has been a part of the pharmaceutical craft for many hundreds of years. You’re probably wondering what exactly is edible out of such a small and fragile plant. Well, when it comes to eating dandelions, nothing goes to waste: you can eat the flower, the root and the leaves as well. You can eat the flower raw, but the root should be boiled first. Don’t throw away the water you’ve boiled the roots in, because it holds natural juices and minerals; drink it and let nothing go to waste. Leaves can be consumed fresh if the plant is still young. If not, they’ll need some boiling to remove the bitter taste that old leaves gradually acquire.
- Green seaweed
Those of you that might find yourselves stranded by the ocean or seaside should know that you can always rely on the green seaweed as a trusted source of food. This particular specie is abundant during war and hot seasons and you can fish it easily; you don’t need to go far from shore to get your hands on it. And there’s no ocean or sea in on the face of the planet that doesn’t have green seaweed. Before eating it, it’s best you rinse the “leaves” with some fresh water, to remove the excess salt and impurities. This particular seaweed can be eaten raw without any problems. However, if you’re looking for a more sophisticated approach you can always boil it into a delicious soup. It has plenty of minerals and vitamins and it doesn’t taste half bad either.
Read more Edible Insects: Solving World Hunger
The elderberries come in a many shapes and sizes, as tens of species can be found throughout the world. The native species (aka. The American Elder) is widely spread in the US and can be found pretty much anywhere; they’re fully ripe and perfect for eating during summer time. They’re easily recognizable thanks to small clusters of small, purple-blackish berries. The fruits are very nutritious, as they contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, calcium and iron; a cup of elderberries measures about 100 calories. Be very cautious while picking the berries because, except for the berries themselves, every part of the plant is poisonous.
The cattail is a pretty common plant in North America, and is also known as punk. It’s a plant that’s strongly related to wet environments, so you can find it near the edges of freshwater ponds. This plant was originally part of the diet of Native Americans, because of its nutritional value and versatility (most of the plant is edible). The rhizomes or rootstock can be eaten raw or boiled, but it’s recommended that you wash them with fresh water first, to remove excess dirt and impurities. The stem can be eaten raw without any problems (especially the white part), but the leaves should be boiled first. It doesn’t take much to eat cattail and the taste is similar to corn.
- Prickly pear cactus
The prickly pear cactus is native to the North American desert and it’s a plant that’s meant to last even in extreme climates. It’s a watery plant which holds a lot of nutrients in its tissues and it will make a great snack for whoever finds himself stranded in the middle of the desert. The name of the plant was given based on the appearance of the reddish fruit, which is shaped like a pear. You can eat pretty much everything when it comes to prickly pear cacti. The fruits are delicious and nutritious and so is the stem. However, you should be careful while handling the cacti, as you risk injury because of its spines. The sting won’t kill you, but you should avoid infections at all costs. If you suffer such injuries, you can use the stem of the cacti as a natural bandage: just slice it in half (vertically) and place the moist tissue over the wound. You should avoid eating and touching cacti that are covered in a milky-white substance.
Many dangerous and potentially harmless plants might bear significant resemblance to the edible ones. Before eating anything you are advised to do some research and to determine as accurately as possible whether the plant you want to consume is safe to eat or not. Be extra careful while determining plants; so before you place yourself in a desperate situation, take some time and do a bit of research in the field. You should avoid plants that show signs of a milky / discolored sap, have a bitter taste, have beans or seeds inside pods, have foliage similar to dill / parsley / carrots or have grain heads with black or purple spurs.
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