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Message Subject Last minute tips for parents when the SHTF
Poster Handle Anonymous Coward
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Eating in the wild means deliberately making a mind-shift. Whatever used to be your diet, whatever times you formerly ate, whatever you think is edible or not, really has to be re-calibrated.

Whatever foods you do find, cannot be stored very well. Nature does a really good job of packaging food. That doesn't work when it's been picked or harvest or taken. Once you do harvest something, it generally must be eaten right away.

Few large meals are possible. Many of us like a big steak meal. Taking down a large animal requires a lot of expended calories. The times when we hunt something that large must be carefully planned. It most likely means several people in a hunt working in concert. Even if you took the animal, you need to clean it, prepare it, and store whatever was left over. Other members of the ecosystem will also want to partake of your harvest. Flies. It is very difficult to make jerky in the wild without a lot of people working to butcher the meat, gather green wood for coals, and dry it slowly with the low heat generated. It can happen, and did on the prairie with buffalo, a massive creature.

You'll be with a small party and minimal equipment. Most of your taken animals will be small. In the absence of winter, where meat might last a little longer, you'll be hunting as you eat. Hopefully, very little hunting will have to occur. You'll most likely be fish or game trapping. That is way more efficient expended calorie wise versus digested calories.

Animals go through growing cycles just like people. Many animals eat food and store it up, then use less energy in wintertime. Some move or migrate. This means far less game taken. A primary food, that you might not have considered are mice or rats. They are abundant, and many larger animals eat them like coyotes or hawks.

Turtles make a very fine meal. The larger the turtle, the more muddy they taste. They are easy to catch, and a treat. Be careful with snapping turtles. Snakes are easy to catch, particularly on cool or cold morning when they are sluggish. They will often sun somewhere, and then it turns cold, and you can gather them easily. Snakes can most easily be hunted with a forked stick with a very short V shaped opening. You pin the snake with the branch, and then cut off the head, taking care, because it can still bite you. Copperheads are very common poisonous snakes. You might very easily find a ratsnake They are very long snakes, and generally harmless, and easy to catch. Cottonmouths or water moccasins can be seen swimming in the water. They eat fish and turtles so both are nearby. A very unusual snake I've come across is the hognose snake. It will puff up it's head like a cobra! Definitely will startle you. I'd seen numerous rattlers and backed cautious away. The hognose made my eyed bug out the first time with excitement. Snake meat is bony, and cooking it into a soup is better as the meat will fall off the bone.

Most gathered plants are field greens: young dandelions leaves, young common plantain, wild garlic(smells like onions). Imagine a diet of healthy salad. Great for vitamins, very low on calories. A very delicious plant is a fiddlehead. It's nothing more than a sprouting fern. Yummy with butter, oh well. This can be supplemented easily with tubers. Tubers are roots, mostly starchy, and these will add calories in higher amounts. The easiest tubers to gather in woodlands around water are cattails. They are very recognizable. Another easily found tuber are Jerusalem artichokes. They have an unusual circular disk found underground with the tubers, and they're large.

In the late fall, there are a variety of nuts. Of course walnuts and pecans are delicious. They need to be picked and roasted. Far more common are acorns. Acorns can be made into a mush. The problem is they're very acidic. There are two main methods: blanching which requires an enormous amount of water, or burying the acorns along river banks and waiting for the acid to leech out (takes a long amount of time). Then they too must be roasted. Acorns are long term food sources, but it's a chore to change out numerous batches of blanching water. It is though an excellent and easy to find source of food subject to the season. Collecting and harvesting and blanching and roasting acorns is a community activity.

Many Native American starved. Two things helped them get by: stored honey and maple syrup.

Honey bees preferred nectar comes from the Basswood. I've come across them on more than one occasion clustered in them. I've never harvested in the wild, so I don't know much about the process. I do know some old timers said to very quietly walk up to the area, and the introduction of some dirt into the hive will cause them to abandon it. You do this, then come back, and hope you beat the racoons or opossums. Bees are slower moving when it's cold. That may be a more opportune time to harvest. I don't know. It's a sad thing to do, because bees are dying in the US and we don't know why. The bees won't come back to the hive, so eat the bee larva too and recycle the wax from the combs.

I have harvested maple syrup using a spile. A spile can be purchased at a farmer's feed store, a hole drilled in a maple (or birch) and a bucket hung from the hook on the spile. The spile helps keep the opening flowing. The collected fluid is quite large and then boiled down. The ratio of sap to syrup is 30-40:1. 35 gallons of liquidy sap boils down to 1 gallon of syrup. You'll be making tiny batches since you'll have small cooking pots. It all depends on the kind of maple or birch. Sugar maples are the best. It means less boiling off of the steam to create a syrup. It tastes 100x better than that junk most people eat. It's high in calories. This is best done as a community activity. It doesn't hurt the tree.

Yes there are the occasional berries, and finding them is delightful. They are not very common since you're competing with birds that can fly up to them, harvest in a large flock, and can spot them from the air. Unless you know when, where, and how to collect them, most berries are difficult to collect. I've seen abundant raspberries and mulberries and have harvested both. Berries can be dehydrated. I wonder though about their vitamin content?

Other fruits are much more difficult. Yes an occasion apple can be taken. Other fruits are very hard to find for the same reasons as berries. Competition. Apples dehydrate very well, if you're lucky enough to find several, you might do this. They also store decently in root cellars.

Game, fish, field greens, and tubers will be the majority of your food. You'll supplement that with unmentionables. By this I mean insects and sweetbreads.

Insects are easy to harvest and abundant. Pound for pound they are much higher in protein than meat. Some people think we'll all be eating them to solve world hunger issues versus eating livestock. Grasshoppers are the easiest. The American colonists learned from the Native Americans to dry them. The abdomens crumble into a powder when dried. This can be added to stews for protein. Other insects are not so great. You have to consider how many calories you'll get versus the amount of work to harvest them. Ants are mostly formic acid. Yes chimpanzees eat them as a snack. I doubt you'll want to. Earthworms can be eaten, but they're full of dirt in their intestines. They have to processed and cooked to be eaten. A little work. Bears eat grubs. Grubs can be found under logs and rocks. They're insect larva. If it's raining, you can collect slugs or snails. These can be tasty, put into the stew, and if you can find some wild garlic (onions) and other things to “kick it up a notch” then not bad.

Sweetbreads are normally discarded by most Americans. The most useful parts are the liver, heart, and kidneys. The rest is seldom worth eating. Realize that eating liver is not great for you. The liver processes anything that is not healthy for the animal, and filters it out for biochemical processing. Still, we're going for calories and protein, both of which are found there.

All of what you collect can best be eaten together as stew. Stew reduces the bonds that hold the proteins together. Any vegetables you collect will add flavor. Native Americans often collected berries as thickeners like blueberries. The tubers you collect will have starches and this will also serve this function.

The brains of animals have traditionally been used for tanning. Eyes have been used for making survival glue. If you're getting fancy, you can make some leather, and there are numerous websites which explain the process. I've seen the hooves and forelegs of some animals processed into handles. I doubt it's necessary except for purists.
 
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