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Wild Foraging for Beginners: The Resurgence of Wild Foraging

Before the dawn of grocery stores and supermarkets, humans hunted and gathered food from the natural world around them. In doing so, they understood animal migratory patterns and possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of the edible and medicinal plants surrounding them. 

However, nowadays, the only identification of edible plants most of us perform is in the produce department of our local grocery store. Luckily, there is a resurgence of wild foraging occurring, especially among preppers, homesteaders, and survivalists. 

Keep reading to learn about wild foraging for beginners and how to add this very important skill to your survival scenario skill set. 


Understanding Wild Foraging

The Resurgence of Wild Foraging as a Practice in Self-Reliance

Foraging is searching for wild food sources in the wilderness, usually plants, that can be consumed or used for their nutritional or medical characteristics. Some common examples of common plants you can forage are nettles, elderflowers, wild garlic, blackberries and other fruit, acorns, sweet chestnuts, and edible greens. 

Foraging for food has been practiced by humans since the days of hunters and gatherers (foragers). Unfortunately, since then, we’ve become more reliant on getting our food from grocery stores.


The Resurgence of Wild Foraging as a Practice in Self-Reliance

Shopping from groceries stores is a convenient luxury that many of us have gotten used to. However, if we’re being honest, it’s not the most self-reliant. 

But that’s where wild foraging comes in. Learning to forage for food is the perfect way to slow down, observe your surroundings, become more in touch with nature, and independently find your own food. 

With a background in foraging, you can not only employ your skills on hikes and camping trips with your family and friends; you can also rely on your knowledge of foraging in legitimate survival scenarios.  


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Safety Considerations While Wild Foraging

The activity of wild foraging is a lot of fun. However, as the saying goes, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt” (or sick). That’s because the consequences of foraging incorrectly can be rather severe.

So make sure to take all the necessary, safe precautions while foraging:  

  • First off, never eat anything that you cannot positively identify. Even then, when you identify a plant, try to cross-reference it with another plant guide or knowledgeable forager.

  • Avoid picking in places that may be subject to pollution, such as roadsides and other areas where pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers are used.

  • Never forage from nature preserves, national parks, or any type of protected land.

  • Similarly, always avoid foraging on private property without permission.

  • Always consider your food allergies and carry the necessary medication (e.g., antihistamines or an epi-pen) to treat any possible allergic reaction.

  • If exposed to a poisonous plant, like poison ivy, consult a medical health professional and follow their recommendations. 

  • While foraging, always use the Universal Edibility Test.

The Universal Edibility Test

The Universal Edibility Test (UET) is a procedure that you can follow to help determine if a plant is safe to consume or not. Essentially, the UET contains multiple steps that gradually expose your body to the plant over a prolonged period to test how your body will react to it. 

When properly combined with safe foraging practices, the UET can be a helpful tool to prevent adverse reactions from consuming wild plants. However, it is important to mention that the UET is not a silver bullet for eating any old plant you find in the wild. In other words, it should not replace legitimate education in identifying and foraging wild plants. 

  1. Identify Common Poisonous Characteristics: Before consuming anything, you can rule out potentially poisonous plants by looking for common traits of toxic plants, such as milky sap, fine hairs, spines, shiny or waxy leaves, and green or white berries.

  2. Separate the Plant into Parts: Not all plant parts are edible just because one part is. Test different parts separately before consuming the whole plant. 

  3. Perform a Skin Contact Test: Rub the portion of the plant you want to consume on your forearm and then wait 15 minutes. Monitor for tingling, burning, or any sort of adverse reaction.

  4. Do a Small Taste Test: Taste a small portion of the plant, or rub it on your lips. Wait five minutes and monitor for bitterness, numbness, tingling, or soapy flavors. 

  5. Do a Bigger Taste Test: Consume a larger portion of the plant, chewing for at least five minutes. Swallow the plant and then wait at least eight hours. 

  6. Consume a Small Amount: If you do not experience digestive issues, consume more of the same portion of the plant and wait another eight hours. If you continue not to have any digestive issues, you can consider that portion of the plant to be edible.  

Beyond Foraging

Wild foraging is a fantastic way to become more self-reliant and in touch with the natural resources you have around you. It’s a useful hobby or pastime and a potentially life-saving skill in particularly dire situations.

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However, foraging for edible and medical plants should only be one component of your larger food security and emergency preparedness plan.

In terms of long-term survival and emergency preparedness, you must think beyond foraging. For example, it’s vital to prep other emergency food reserves, such as a family emergency food supply.

At Valley Food Storage, we can help you accomplish that. Our freeze-dried and dehydrated emergency food products help you reach a new level of food security. Our high-quality, nutritious, and non-GMO food is the perfect complement to your comprehensive emergency preparedness plan. 

Final Thoughts: Foraging Should Only Be One Part of Your Food Security Plan

Wild foraging for edible and medical plants is not only a mindful way to enjoy nature and be more in touch with your surroundings, but also to remain self-reliant and feed yourself and your family in survival situations.

However, foraging should only be one part of your food security plan. You should also possess other survival skills, like how to purify water in the wild, and have a stockpile of freeze-dried and dehydrated survival food to adequately prepare for unexpected disasters.  

Visit our website to try a survival food sample of our most popular and best-selling recipes and to get started prepping today. And visit our blogs for other helpful information, like how to start homesteading for beginners.