*Stalking the Wild Veggies*
By: Rivendell
01 January 2004

When I think of survival foods it is usually as two categories. The first is our stored foods or "preps" and the second is foraged foods. In a survival situation most folks think of hunting for wild game as a resource. In a ATSHTF situation this may include a stray cow, pig, goat or even dog. Meat is something that we all think of first. Knowing the game and their habits in your AO is important. But as the old saying goes, man does not live by meat alone. Fresh fruits and veggies are needed to prevent Vitamin deficiencies like scurvy (vita. C ), rickets (vita. D ), etc. Bottled vitamins are ok, but the body more readily assimilates them from natural sources.

It is just as important to know the wild edible plants in your area. Like knowing the game trails that deer travel on there are many things to know about edible plants. Knowing which plant is available in what season will let you know what to look for. Knowing about poisonous look alikes will prevent disaster. Some plants require special preparations like being boiled in multiple waters to make them safe. It is up to you to learn about the plants where you live.

Since the members of this group are in such varied locations around the world I will not try to list plants from all areas. Instead here are is an example of the seasons where I live. Here in the mountains of Tennessee Spring is the time of Fiddle Head Ferns and Cressey Greens. As warm weather continues there are Nettles, Dandelions, Lambsquarters, Raspberries, wild plums and pollen from Cattails. Late Summer Blackberries, blueberries and wild Rose Hips. Fall is the time of nuts, Hicory, Walnuts, Acorns, Chinquapins, and Hazelnuts. Indian Turnips can be harvested and is an example of a root that needs multiple boilings. After the first frost wild persimmons are an excellent for the sweet tooth. Winter is sparse but Cattail roots are available. No matter the season there is something from the plant kingdom available here.

I hope this article has gotten you thinking. There are more good things out there to eat than you would believe once you start looking. Now is the time to learn about them. Not just to read about but find, harvest and eat so that when the time comes you will know them as well as the ones in the store. I will close with a few common plants and their uses to prime your curiosity and get you started. Remember Facta Non Verba.......

1. The dandelion is pretty much common everywhere and a good source for vitamin A. It is available during the warm months of the year. It is at itís best when the leaves first appear in the Spring. The young tender leaves are excellent raw in a salad. As the plant matures the leaves are great cooked like spinach. The flowers can be added to a tossed salad for a little color and flavor. My favorite way to cook and eat dandelions is to wilt the leaves in hot bacon grease with a few spring onions. After draining top them with crumbled bacon and boiled egg. Add a touch of vinegar and salt and pepper to taste then dig in and enjoy. The dandelion has a long tap root that when roasted, ground and added to hot water makes a healthful tea that some use as a coffee substitute. All and all for a plant considered a nuisance by some it is a handy friend to know.

2. Rose hips are one of the best sources for vitamin C. After the rose flowers and the petals fall a round globe is left on the stem. Toward the end of summer these turn red as they ripen. They can be used to make tea or used to make jelly. Roses are found in the wild or cultivated and should be remembered for scurvy prevention.

3. The cattail reed is a cornucopia of good things to eat. From the starchy roots to the sausage like heads they can keep you full and happy. In the spring the flowering spikes can be gathered before they start pollinating and turn brown. Just peel off the thin sheath and put into boiling water until tender. Add some margarine and it is like eating green corn off the cob. Once these spikes turn golden brown with pollen they can be rubbed into a bag or on to a cloth to gather this wonderfully edible foodstuff. The pollen can be used as half the flour in a given recipe. Cattail pancakes are great. To make them mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup pollen, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder and Ĺ teaspoon salt. Mix 2 eggs (or the equivalent in powdered eggs mixed into 1 1/3 cups milk) and 2 tablespoons margarine. Blend the wet ingredients in with the dry. Cook as you would any pancake until golden brown.

4. Acorns from oak trees are another common wild food. They were a staple in the diet of most Native Americans. Acorns contain tannin which gives them a bitter taste. The amount of tannin depends on the specie of oak tree. Some are so mild that treating them is not needed, but for the rest it is an easy process to remove the tannin. After shelling coarse grind the acorns and cover with cool water. The tannin will leach out after a few hours. For the most bitter varieties this process may have to be repeated. Once this is done dry the meal in dehydrator or on a cookie sheet in the oven with low heat. Once dry you can grind it into a fine flour and use it for breads. The oak is a valuable resource a good tree can give several hundred pounds of nuts.

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