In The Weeds

Cattail is one of the easiest plants to identify in the wild

Cattail is one of the easiest plants to identify in the wild

So on my Facebook page I was recently asked about being lost and needing to eat wild. Not game- more specifically about green stuff. Stuff that grows on trees, bushes, and shrubs. Stuff that starts out as a seed and blossoms. The stuff herbivore’s love.

First let me point out a few things. You cannot and should not ever learn from a book, video or guide on the right plants to eat. There are certain plants, berries, and other shoots that can be poisonous and kill you. You should really learn from an experienced guide who will teach and mentor you one on one. You need to not only learn what you can eat but also what can harm you. A book, guide or video download is a great place to start, but for me when working an area, I try to find a local expert to teach me. A solid resource for a starting point is a website called “Eat the Weeds” and he has very informative videos, but again, learn from a local, not a book or video. On the site you will find great guidelines to use ONCE you learn to identify the plant and understand its seasonal behaviors.

Second- it’s all about liability and responsibility. As a practitioner in outdoor science and skills for close to 30 years I cannot and will not administer a menu of edibles in the wild and not expose myself to risk. At the same time, you really should not follow what some guy on the internet tells you what you can and cannot eat. I could be making this up for all you know.

Is it safe to eat? If you're not 100% sure don't take a chance on it. You're already in a survival situation, don't make it worse by consuming something toxic

Is it safe to eat? If you’re not 100% sure don’t take a chance on it. You’re already in a survival situation, don’t make it worse by consuming something toxic

Fortunately, there are a few things you can eat that are easy to identify and not produce any difficulties. These are things you can go to the woods with confidence.

Cattails, parts of the Pine Tree, and certain grasses can be foraged. Cattail is often my go to since the head can be made into a paste and baked. The shoots in the spring are also an option. Pine gives us among other things, needles to be used as tea and nuts from the cones. Last, specific grasses can be foraged as well and placed in a soup or broth.

One thing to remember is that with any of these, not only proper identification, but also knowing what it is growing in and there have not been pesticides or herbicides dumped on them.

Watch videos, grab a few guide books, but most important- find a local mentor. Until then— Happy Eating!

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