In my last survival article I discussed the Sacred Order; shelter, water, fire, food. When you have your shelter, water source and fire you will begin to think about eating. In this article I will discuss 4 basic wild edibles that can be easily found almost everywhere.
First, I would like to touch upon an important spiritual aspect of gathering from Earth Mother. It is important to remember to ask permission to take from Earth Mother and then give thanks, express gratitude. Give something back. A tobacco offering is appropriate if you have it. Collect what you need with a “caretaker” attitude, which means gather in a way that will leave the area healthier and better able to grow and replenish. Ponder the effect your taking will have on the next 7 generations, remember, we did not inherit the land from our forefathers, we are borrowing it from our children and grandchildren. Leave plenty for them!
Correct identification of plants is of extreme importance! Your life may depend on it! Be certain of the identification of plants before eating as some plants are poisonous. I suggest you obtain a field guide and start learning to identify edible plants in your area as well as poisonous plants to stay away from.
Pine: Pinaceae Family, Pinus Genus.
Pines are evergreens with needles that grow in clusters of 2-5.
Pine is edible year round, however you must eat from a living tree or a very freshly downed tree. Parts to eat: needles, inner bark, buds, young green cones, pollen, nuts.
Needles: Pull bundle cap off, chop needles and make tea. Steep in hot water until needles sink to bottom.
Inner Bark: This is the cambium layer. It is white in color and is edible year round. The inner bark is high in nutrients, vitamin C and sugar.
You can eat the inner bark raw, boil it like noodles or dry it and pound it into flour.
Pine Buds: Eat the bright green new ones in the spring. You can eat raw or boil them and sweeten with honey or sugar.
Pollen: Gather by shaking into a bag. Eat raw, in stew, or mix with your pine bark flour. The pollen is very high in protein.
Young Green Cones: In summer you can gather the newly forming cones and boil for a few minutes and eat.
Pine Nuts: In autumn gather the nuts from pine cones and eat raw or grind into pine nut butter.
Oak: Quercus genus.
Part eaten: Acorns
Oak is very high in tannic acid so more preparation is needed before eating.
After gathering your acorns you will want to dry them for several weeks for storage. If you are going to use them right away you don’t have to dry them.
First you will shell them. Then winnow them using a shallow bowl or basket, toss up and down to remove the husks.
You must leech acorns before using! To leech chop them into quarters and put into already boiling water for 5 minutes. Pour the water off and repeat this process 5-6 times. This process removes the tannic acid and makes the acorns edible.
Eat acorns or pound into flour. Acorn flour can be used just like regular flour. The flour loses about half it’s nutrients in 2-3 days so don’t pound into flour until you are ready to use it. Store your acorns in a cool, dry, dark place, keeps for several months.
Acorns are high in protein and fat.
Grass: Graminaceae (14,000 species)
Parts eaten: roots, leaves, seeds.
You can eat the roots of grasses year round either raw or cooked. Eat the leaves raw or dry and pound (grind) to add to other flour. Don’t grind until you are ready to use it.
Seeds are ready when they turn are brownish in color and fall off into your hand. You can boil and eat like hot cereal or pound them into flour. The flour makes yummy breads and cakes.
High in vitamins.
Caution! Be aware of Ergot Fungus! Ergot fungus grows in the place of seed, it is enlarged, purple or black in color. Is most common in domestic rye, but can be found in grasses. Ergot Fungus prefers moist areas. Do your research and make sure you can identify Ergot Fungus!
Cattail: Typha genus
Parts eaten: new shoots in spring, flower head, leaves, pollen, rhizome (root), corms.
Shoots: Gather in spring or early summer. Always cook the shoots (bake, boil) and eat the core.
Flower head: Steam or boil and eat like corn on the cob.
Pollen: Eat raw or use for flour.
Leaves: Eat the leaves the same as grasses.
Rhizome (root): Make flour with the roots. Wash the root, split it in half, dig out the white part into a container of water. Let it settle, then pour off the water. The flour will be in the bottom. You can dry the flour for later use or use it right away to make cakes, breads, etc. Nutrients: starch and protein.
Corms: Corms are found along the roots. Feel for a hard knot and collect the hard knot. Prepare and eat like a potato. High in vitamins and other nutrients.
These are the basic wild edible foods that can keep you alive and healthy for a long period of time in a survival situation. Having a spiritual connection with our Earth Mother is the most important skill of all. Learn her voice and how to communicate with her and instead of surviving, you will flourish.
Shelley Lincoln (Mountain Water Woman) is an experienced Reiki Master/Teacher and spiritual leader.