Survival food foraging is the kind of thing that might save your life someday… but even if we never collapse into anarchy, hunting out wild edibles is just plain fun.
I sent out my new survival food foraging video via my newsletter and posted it on Saturday – but for those of you just showing up today, here it is again:
After sending that out in the newsletter, I got an e-mail back from one of my readers asking “how did you learn how to identify the plants? If by book, please share.”
For the sake of the beginners here, let’s assume you’ve never picked dandelion greens or wild onions before… never made violet tea or sucked the nectar from a honeysuckle bloom…
Now I’m getting depressed, but I’ll press on.
If you don’t know any wild foods and couldn’t hunt down any survival food in the woods if your life depended on it… the best place to start is with a few guide books.
Guide Books for Survival Food Foraging
The Peterson Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants is a good jumping off point for foragers living across much of North America.
I own that book and it’s quite good.
If you live in the vicinity of the Rocky Mountains, there’s another highly rated field guide for your area titled Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies.
Judging by the 5-star rating and great ranking on Amazon, I’d snatch that one up if I was in that area.
If you’re in Florida (like me), a good book to start out with is a modern foraging classic titled Florida’s Incredible Wild Edibles. I bought that one a while back and quite enjoyed it.
There’s also a new book out by the co-author of that one titled Florida’s Edible Wild Plants and it’s getting great reviews, though I haven’t gotten a copy yet. It seems to be more in-depth than Florida’s Incredible Wild Edibles.
Another good option for discovering wild edible plants is to pick up some of the Audubon guides. My wife has one that I’ve read through a few times and I always discover new plants in there. Though the edible plants are not all labeled as such, it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with local species so you can go look them up in depth later on.
Other Ways to Start Wild Food Foraging
If you can take a class with a forager or bug people that regularly eat wild foods, do so!
Personally, I’d like to claim I’m great friends with Green Deane because it would make me seem cooler than I am; however, we’re just friendly acquaintances who tend to run into each other at the same events.
If you don’t know who Green Deane is – and you live in the south – you need to look this guy up and take his classes if you get a chance. I took two of my children to one of his wild foraging classes a couple of years ago (see photo) and we had a great time and learned quite a bit. The man is an encyclopedia – and he’s been generous enough to devote years to creating the best wild food foraging site on the internet: eattheweeds.com.
Another website worth bookmarking is Wildman Steve Brill’s site. He’s a mad forager with great stories to tell.
I’ve visited his site quite a few times while trying to nail down the edibility of something or other I’ve stumbled across.
If you live further north, he’s the guy to check out.
For mushroom foraging, you should check out Dr. Michael Kuo’s site Mushroomexpert.com. You should also pick up at least one or two of the books on my list of the best mushroom foraging books.
Mushrooms are somewhat more likely to kill you than plants if you screw up your identifications; however, there are a few of them that are really hard to mess up. I stick to those and eat plenty of wild mushrooms without fear. You’ll find them in my post Five Easy To ID Florida Edible Wild Mushrooms.
Start Now and Have Fun
Don’t want on foraging until you need survival food for the pantry. Jump in now and you’ll reduce your food budget, gain extra nutrition from super-healthy wild plants and just plain have fun.
I love wandering through the woods and nibbling on what I find. You could drop me in the woods anywhere in Florida and I’d have no trouble avoiding starvation (though I would miss having the occasional Martini). You can gain the same confidence by first going out into your yard and learning to identify the weeds. Visit the empty lots in your neighborhood. Take a guide book along and start deciphering which plants are edible and which are poisonous.
Then gather a few you know are safe… and start adding them to meals. Over this last year we’ve regularly eaten dozens of wild-harvested species. I had chanterelles with my scrambled eggs yesterday; today I had sauteed Shepherd’s needle greens.
Healthy survival food is everywhere – learn to reach out and pick it!
Green Deane is the man! I’m glad you are doing some posts on Florida foraging as well. I just watched your Chinese Yam youtube video. Where did you get your original starts from? I’ve been looking for a reliable source without much luck. I just want to make sure I am getting the correct plant.
I got mine from Georgia Vines: http://www.georgiavines.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=5&products_id=1207