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Thread: wilderness staples provided by nature

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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    Default wilderness staples provided by nature

    I not sure where to post this question but figured this forum is as good a place as any. If there is a more better place please move it there.

    I was thinking earlier about food in extended wilderness living conditions. It can take a lot of grub to get by. What are some of the staples a person could harvest from nature? Most certainly this will change with different locations. Winters are long in some places and a stock of food would be necessary.

    A few that come to my mind is Maple syrup and its offshoots and wild rice. A good store of each could be gathered up. Ther's probably some nut crops that would fall into the same catagory. Large amounts of meat in some locations.

    I've thought about seeding various places with wild rice to see if it would flourish.


    any thoughts about putting by a large amount of nature provided staples?


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    Senior Member SARKY's Avatar
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    Depending on where you live, Amaranth is prolific, as are cattails
    I know what hunts you.

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    acorns would have to be at the top of the list, learning to economically prepare them with minimal calorie use and such is another story. Cattails would be high on my list as well, again coming up with an easy way to prepare in huge quantities and store them is another story. When I think staple I think what can I harvest in huge quantities that will renew itself next season and provide carbs, and fat.

    Acorns and cattails stand out big time, maybe nightcrawlers too.

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    When you say staples, that makes me think of the basics for food; flour, salt, sugar, etc. Is that what you are referencing? Acorns and cattails can be made into flour. Salt can be found in outcrops (salt licks). Burned coltsfoot ash can be used as salt, so I understand.

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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    It seems like some areas have a abundance of certain foods. For instance the great lakes area it's wild rice. I read a article about hickory nuts. The natives would grind the nuts shell and all and store them for future use. In the plains area it was the bison. So I started wondering what major food source was utilized in different areas. For some it may have been just a little of this and that and there was not a primary food source.

    This is for the sake of discussion. I had wondered what if I had to face a winter under primitive conditions. What foods grew in enough abundance to provide subsistence and enough for storage.

    I need to know this because I'm the only fella that has been in the sticks and has not seen nary a game animal for days on end. Most guys will have fresh meat everyday except me. LOL. I'm only being silly about this part.

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    A lot depends on your AO. Also thngs to keep in mind such as acorns mentioned-they take a LOT of prep work. The Natives put them in baskets and the like in a running creek for a day or two to remove the tannins. Someone like me who has had a kidney transplant cannot eat the stuff because it causes stress on the kidneys to metabolize, so if you have renal issues-even unknown you can cause yourrself issues.

    Cattails can be a serious PITA to get to the roots and gather enough to make it worthwhile.

    Out Wet mesquite beans can e made into a number of things including flour but are end-of-season.

    Grubs and earthworms are high protein and can be dried but again-you gotta find them in large numbers to keep you alive and functioning.

    Definitely learn what is in your AO and any AO you are going to likely be in.

    Cities? Rats, pigeons and strays are easily gotten.

    Florida and the S.E? Aligators [[small ones] can be gotten with a line, a bobber and no hook-lure them in and do a wrap with the line and they are yours.

    Snakes, fish, crawdads, turtles.

    You can starve to death eating rabbit. Not enough protein.

    Armadillo, 'possum.

    berries were plentiful in the N.W. Fungus in the N.E. [[tho I'd never try it-don't know fungi well enough to trust my decisions.]]

    Just food for thought.

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    Voice in the Wilderness preachtheWORD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satanta View Post
    You can starve to death eating rabbit. Not enough protein.
    Pretty sure the lack of protein isn't the problem. It's the lack of fat and other elements.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satanta View Post
    Fungus in the N.E. [[tho I'd never try it-don't know fungi well enough to trust my decisions.]]
    I'm not brave enough either. Besides, there is not enough nutrition in most fungus to ever consider it a staple.
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    Hen of the woods, aka. Grifola frondosa, is an autumn mushroom that grows abundantly in oak and other hardwoods, it can be easily dried and stored in mass quantities. It would make a good staple supplement to other dishes, especially if meat was lacking in the diet. Honey mushrooms, also known as stumpers and Armillaria mellea, are another widespread mushroom that inhabit the same areas and have been used in times where other food was scarce. Morels grow in the spring, many varieties, and can also be found in huge quantities. Chicken of the woods is another abundant late spring through early fall mushroom.

    Contrary to widespread belief, mushrooms do have a fair amount of nutrition based on dry weight, they are 90% water, but the other 10% is full of vitamins and minerals, the same is true for most of what we eat, we are 70% water. Most fungi can be easily and quickly dried, they contain no real fat and store well for long periods, so I wouldn't discount them as a staple. They have been used as a staple throughout history, especially in Europe. Another thing to consider is they contain many of the nutrients and minerals that otherwise would be lacking, so even if they don't provide a high source of carbs and fat, they certainly do provide.

    Around here wild carrot, and relatives, would be a huge staple crop if one were adept enough to identify it in it's eating stage. Burdock would be a good staple, but not very tasty IMO, it's hard to dig without a full sized shovel too, as the roots go way down. Ramps, wild leeks, are extremely abundant in Northern Michigan and I could see drying them, both leaves and bulb for later use.

    Autumn olive berries, blackberries, and raspberries are fairly abundant locally along with mulberries and black cherries, all can be dried easily and stored if needed.

    I believe cattails and acorns can be prepared with little effort by the right person, it just takes learning how to do it efficiently. Certainly, they were both main wild food crops of the peoples that inhabitied this area originally, and wherever acorns are found there is usually suggested evidence of them being a staple. IIRC, Oak is the most abundant and widespread tree in the world. I don't think the native people of the world would have bothered, or survived, if the calories lost to calories gained ratio wasn't high enough to sustain them, they just knew how to do it without wasting calories.

    You can survive solely on rabbit, it just takes eating the entire animal, and not wasting the most nutritious portions. Natives even stirred rabbit droppings into their stews to get the plant matter that hadn't been digested, rabbits don't digest their food very well. The same is true with fish and other critters. We tend to only eat the muscle which contains the least of the nutrients. You can also survive on voles, mice, rats, chipmunks, squirrels, and probably every other rodent on earth, you just have to be willing to eat the whole thing. This is apparent today in places where fish is a main source of nutrition, they eat as much as they can of the entire animal and what they can't physically eat they throw in a pot and make soup. Plus they eat a ot of raw fish, which gives much more nutrients than eating cooked, the same is true with all foods, heat kills nutrients just as it kills bacteria and such.

    But, when it comes down to it, there's only one way to know for sure which foods we could live on for extended periods, and that's by living on them for extended periods. I don't know too many people who will eat nightcrawler, rabbit poo, and fish eyeball stew on a regular basis. LOL! Heck, I don't know many that will even stomach deer tallow among other wild animal fats, as those were staples as well. Would you eat deer brains? I would have a hard time with them myself, but it would be required if one were to truly live off the land, most can't even stand liver. I saw a show where they made some kind of moose nose jelly, it looked like the moose had a real bad sinus infection, they cut off his nose and canned it, snot and all. Yummy!

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Coconuts, bananas, oranges, grapes, honey - yeah, OK - some are climate specific.
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    Maybe I should re-think living in Florida! LOL! I would never starve!!
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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    thanks for all the comments, it's all good stuff. I haven't found morels in large amounts in years, maybe I lost my touch LOL.

    It seems to me in extended wilderness living, food procurment and processing will take a large amount of time. Harvesting to fill immediate needs and harvesting to stockpile for the future. I can see where some areas with large amounts of fish or herds these needs could be filled with less effort. Every area seems to have their pros and cons.

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