You’ve probably heard it said that the human body can survive for weeks without food, as long as it stays hydrated and protected from the elements. While you can survive multiple days at a time without properly eating, food is nevertheless a critical necessity for the outdoor survivor and adds benefits to the experience that you might not even know about, such as morale boost, warmth, and psychological resilience. It is important to learn how to identify what types of natural food sources and plants are edible for consumption, as well as the proper ways to cook and store your food in the wild. Read on to learn some life-saving tips and tricks that will keep you fed, sustained, and most importantly, healthy and alive.
Food – the 5th Pillar of Survival
No matter the time of year or even the climate in which you’re surviving, you’re very likely to find some type of edible vegetation (the exception being if you are in the middle of an arid desert). At the beginning stages of starting your survivor diet, plants and vegetation are your best bet to staying fed and energized, as seeking out meat and fish can prove to be much more taxing and advanced. No outdoorsman should ever leave for the wild without purchasing a book about edible and poisonous plants. Without this type of information, it will be very hard and in some cases impossible to the untrained eye to distinguish between a poisonous and an edible plant. You can, of course, use general knowledge that can help you avoid certain plants, such as white berries or a milky sap exuding from the plant, which are signs that let you know the plant in question is dangerous. However, without the proper literature and knowledge about each type of plant you might encounter, you could potentially make a life-threatening mistake.
The most underrated source of food and energy in the wild is definitely insects. Forget what you’ve seen on Fear Factor; most insects are high in both protein and fat, which are two vital nutritional needs that your body requires on a daily basis (and especially out in the wild!) Insects are most often found under logs, under the bark of dead trees, and dwelling in generally wet and shady areas. Most insects are edible raw; however, if you are equipped with the gear and the knowledge to cook or roast the insects, this is just one extra stept that ensures you are consuming something safe and edible by relieving the food source of any toxins or bacteria it might contain. Worms, grasshoppers, crickets, and ants are all examples of general insects that can be found in most climates and environments, all of which are edible and can be used to keep you sustained and energized.
If you feel that you have the energy, the ability, and the tools to move on from plants and insects and work towards obtaining food in a slightly more challenging manner, the next step to consider is fishing. It is important to first understand the environment in which you’re currently dwelling – if you’re near a river or a stream, catching fish is a perfectly realistic and obtainable source of food. However, if you’re living somewhere far from a fresh water source that would require days of travel, it might be best to conserve your energy and stick with the tactics that are currently funding your source of energy. You might need to spend a couple of days observing the behaviors and the patterns of the fish you are trying to catch. Watch what times of day they seem to be most active and plenty, and where they like to rest and congregate. A hook and line should always be an essential part of any survivor’s outdoor kit, but if you’re left without this, you’ll need to construct or find a large branch or stick with a sharp and pointed end that can serve as a spear. Only attempt to use your spear in shallow water where the fish are visible. Be slow in your movements; very cautiously and slowly move the spear closer and closer to your identified place of capture, and then when ready, quicky spear your catch. A forked spear will produce the best results rather than a spear with one point. This will help you to either ensure that your catch is secured in your possession, or will allow you to catch multiple fish at one time. An undershirt and a y-shaped branch can also be used to make an improvised fishing net if you’re low on materials and looking for an alternative way to catch your food.
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One of the biggest challenges that survivors encounter when going to cook their food is the fact that they might not have access to any sort of utensils that they have been used to using to prepare food in the past. A simple remedy to this is using a hot-stone cooking method, where you will light a fire above a bed of non-porous stones to heat them and be used (ideally for fish, meat, and eggs). You can lay your food sources directly on the hot stones and use a branch to transfer food or flip the stones if needed.
It is unwise to go about your survival experience with the mentality that you do not need food to survive. Learning these simple and practical ways to collect, identify, and cook food will keep you energized, sustained, and able to continue on your journey for an unlimited amount of time!