Pottery and Ceramics
Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt To Plate by John Kallas Buy now
A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and Central North America by Lee Allen Peterson Buy now
The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer
How to Identify Plants by H.D. Harrington
Storey's Basic Country Skills by John and Martha Storey Buy now
Back to Basics by Reader's Digest
Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival Skills by John McPherson
What Fish Don't Want You to Know: An Insider's Guide to Freshwater Fishing by Frank P. Baron Buy now
Fishing Basics by Gene Kugach
Saltwater Fishing Made Easy by Martin Pollizotto
Making Indian Bows and Arrows the Old Way by Douglas Spotted Eagle
The Traditional Bowyer's Bible by Jim Hamm Buy now
Trapper's Bible: Traps, Snares & Pathguards by Dale Martin Buy now
Dressing & Cooking Wild Game: From Field to Table: Big Game, Small Game, Upland Birds & Waterfowl by Editors of Creative Publishing
Basic Botany University of Arizona
Plant Families The Seed Site, UK.
"Edible Wild Plants" by Bradford Angier
"Modern-Day Food Foraging" by Laura Martin-Bühler
"How to identify a tree"
National Arbor Day Foundation
"The Life - Saving Birch Tree" by Bradford Angier
"Edibles In The Park" by Steve Brill
Wild Food Foraging
"Weeds Or Vegetables? That's the Question!" by Peter A. Gail, Ph.D
Wild Edible Weeds
King's American Dispensatory(1898)
Classic text on plants and their uses.
Hunting Without Guns
Introduction to hunting
Making a Bow and Arrow
Ohio Division of Wildlife
How to spear fish
Preparing fish and game for cooking
Even without the dire predictions for 2012, today’s global food shortage and rising commodity prices have most of world's population on edge. Whether it's crop-destroying freezes, hurricanes and tornadoes, mega-wildfires and droughts, nuclear contamination, flooding, infestations or greedy speculators on Wall Street, food availability is no longer a given in modern civilization.
Keep in mind that in a worst-case scenario, urban dwellers will be more vulnerable to shortages than their country cousins, and that industrial countries are as susceptible to disruptions as poor ones. While those people who live in rural areas are close to the crops and have the means to forage, fish and hunt, people in the cities remain dependent on grocery stores and FEMA in an emergency.
That’s why acquiring the skills and techniques described below will help you become self-reliant in a long-term crisis. Along with the knowledge boost, consider purchasing some of the tools and other supplies recommended in these articles. They're sure to be less easy to come by (and far more expensive) after a disaster arrives on your doorstep.
It may be time-consuming, but foraging for leafy greens, nuts, berries, herbs and edible flowers is how most creatures pass their days on Earth. Even if you're just lost in the woods for a couple days, your time would be better spent chewing on dandelion greens and sipping spruce tea, rather than pacing around, waiting for a rescue helicopter.
The key to successful foraging is first learning what's edible and then honing your ability to identify it out in thefield. Even then, there are lots of lookalike plants, where one type is edible and the other poisonous. In a pinch, you can chew a tiny bit of something in your mouth without swallowing it, then monitor your body's reaction. If there's no irritation, burning or gag reflect, you can try eating a little of it and waiting 48 hours, again to see how your body will react. However, this is not the safest approach.
Here are two other sensory tests you can try:
Most mushrooms are poisonous and in any case provide little nutrition, so they also may not be worth the risk. Whatever plant, bark, fruit. seed or nut you decide to try, just remember to go slow once you decide to eat them. Even if a plant species is edible, your body still needs time to acclimate to it. Unless you're snowbound or need to fill your tank for some other reason, fasting will often be the best course of action when your normal food supply is diminished. That way, you can avoid diarrhea, stomach cramps and other disabling conditions that often crop up in the initial stages of a survival scenario.
Some edible things you can find in the wild include:
Grasses: The whitish, tender stems in the ground are nourishing. Watch for little hooks on the side that can irritate your stomach. Remove or avoid them. Also make sure you're eating grass and not something else.
Seeds: Sunflower and grass seeds are OK to eat if they're not moldy or black. Use the taste test above and avoid anything that causes burning or stinging sensation.
Roots and Tubers: Not all roots are edible, so be sure to look for those right beneath the ground where the plant grows (like the grass stems). Usually, though not always, you should boil or heat these up to make them more digestible. Potato, beet and carrot are examples of root vegetables, so kind of picture those shapes as you forage around.
Bark: Specifically, you're looking for the inner, light-colored cambium layer which can be eaten raw, ground into flour or cooked like spaghetti (according to When Technology Fails). The book lists the following types of trees with edible bark: aspen, birch, willow, slippery elm, maple, spruce, pine, tamarack and hemlock. (Don't eat any other part of the tamarack and hemlock.)
The Basics of Plant Identification
In addition to purchasing a plant field guide and making copies of photos, you might consider taking a course in plant identification. Most community colleges offer this class through their horticulture departments. Other good resources include your city's local arboretum, community garden or chapter of the Native Plant Society. Ask about docent-led field trips and nature walks, which provides hands-on training with a professional at your side. Depending on where you live now or may evacuate to in the future, you should learn everything you can about plants at different locations, altitudes and climates where you might evacuate.
In order to identify various flora, experts often start by naming the plant family. For instance, in the celery family you'll find hollow stems and flowers with five petals colored white, yellow or pink. So if you can take some notes or memorize the particulars about families that include food plants, you'll be on your way to becoming expert at foraging. Here are the general traits botanists look for in any plant:
Three diagrams above from wilderness-survival.net
Understanding the nomenclature of horticulture is a big plus when it comes to distinguishing between many plants that appear to look alike. If you can't tell the difference between a stalk, stamen, pistil, bract or spike, then you might want to pick up a book on basic botany at the local library (or check the website we've listed) and get up to speed.
Even when a plant is technically OK to eat, keep in mind that any plant you ingest has the potential to give you diarrhea if its' new to your diet. Always eat a small quantitiy initially, so your digestive system can adjust to the newcomer.
Incidentally, nearly 80 percent of all mushrooms are poisonous. Within 48 hours of consumption, chemicals released by these toxic varieties will cause a shutdown of the kidneys and soon after that, death. Since their nutritional value is negligible, you're better off going hungry.
Believe it or not, if you take firearms out of the picture, hunting suddenly becomes a pre-historic occupation. A bow and arrow, spear and throwing stick provided a reliable arsenal for the human species over the course of millions of years. That's why learning how to make these weapons from materials available in nature may determine who survives in a post-apocalyptic world. (A good forager or gardener, of course, can get by without having to eat any animal products.)
Creating arrowheads from obsidian, flint or chert is an ancient art known as flintknapping, discussed on the native skills page of this website.
Before the bow and arrow were developed, Paleolithic tribes hurled the atlatl, a two-foot length of wood with a hook at one end that holds a spear or dart ( so long as you have some animal sinew wrapped around it). Another instrument, the rabbit stick, is shaped like a boomerang, although not meant to reverse course when thrown. By knocking a small animal in the head with the stick, the hunter can slow its retreat or wound it severely enough for easy capture. A bolas is a string with two balls on the end, entangling a small animal by the legs when thrown with enough force.
A rabbit stick and bolas
Most survival guides, however, favor traps and snares over sticks, spears and arrows. Instead of tracking down a single prey on foot, a hunter can set several snares using rope or paracord, then leave them for awhile and do other things. This is by far a more efficient method of hunting.
Just remember to decommission any snares once you stop checking them, or animals may die slow, torturous deaths for no reason. In any situation where you depend on the hinterlands to survive, it's extremely important not to generate bad karma, as many tribes caution. See wilderness survival for more techniques and tips on how to hunt game.
A fishing device may consist of little more than a hook made from bone or thorns, attached to a line fashioned out of a vine or animal guts. Needless to say, the line has to be strong enough to hold the weight of the biggest fish in the water. For bait, you can use berries, worms, grasshoppers, or other insects. If nothing tasty is available, try a fake lure, like a piece of bright cloth or shiny button.
You can also catch fish with a spear. In low-lying water with boulders, you can stick your hands between the rock and sometimes pluck a sleeping fish right out of the water. Another technique is to make a net by interweaving plant foliage and attaching it to a frame made by curving a narrow branch into a circular shape. Then run the net through the water or secure it with a few stones beneath the surface and wait awhile.
You can divert fish away from a river current into a small pool near you on shore by damming the stream with rocks or logs. Likewise, you can take advantage of an ocean tide by building a dam while the tide is in, thus preventing fish from getting back out to sea when the tide retreats.
It's important to release fish you don't want quickly. Back the hook out of them while keeping them dipped in the water If the fish is unresponsive, gently move him back and forth in the water to stimulate breathing.
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