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Foraging for Food - Part One, An Introduction to Foraging

Part One, An Introduction to Foraging

Ah, foraging. Not to be confused with Gardening or Hunting, Foraging is a very different topic.

Foraging for Food is the act of looking for food in your nearby wilderness and collecting such foods. Common foods that people might be more familiar with are listed below.

I have tried to keep the focus on plants that are found in Ontario, Canada. I have also decided to keep today's list relatively short and to focus on plants people are going to have an easier time of recognizing.

Berries and Grapes

This is tricky as some berries can be poisonous. So you should really only eat berries you recognize. If you don't know for certain what a currant looks like for example, maybe you shouldn't eat that berry.

I am also putting grapes in this category as they can be plentiful if you manage to find some wild grape vines.

I recommend only eating the following:
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Black Raspberries (also known as Blackberries)
  • Blueberries
  • Elderberries
  • Currants
  • Cranberries
  • Wild Grapes, White or Red



Mushrooms and other Fungi

Again with the poisons. When in doubt, if you don't recognize a mushroom do not eat it.

An immature deathcap mushroom for example looks like a "normal mushroom" because it hasn't fully matured yet. A fully grown death cap however is pretty obviously something to avoid. Death Caps are not the only mushrooms you should avoid either, as there are a variety of mushrooms and fungi that are not safe to eat.

Morels for example are safe to eat, which are similar to mushrooms. Puffballs can be eaten, but have to be cooked properly or else they are poisonous.

Fiddleheads (immature ferns found in Springtime) are really tasty.

"All mushrooms are edible, including the poisonous ones."
Do Not Eat Death Cap Mushrooms

Fruits

Apples, pears, cherries, crab-apples, plums, etc. The good news is that poisonous fruits are basically non existent. The vast majority of fruits are pretty safe to eat. Also tomatoes are technically a fruit, not a veggie.

Wild Pears may not look great, but are perfectly edible.

Vegetables
  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Rhubarb
Grains
  • Wild Rice
  • Wild Corn
Roots
  • Potatoes
  • Wild Onions
  • Wild Leeks
  • Bloodroot
Nuts and Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Hickory Nuts
  • Hazelnut
Wild Flowers

Useful for some unusual salads, these are something you can eat if you don't mind the unusual taste.
  • Dandelion
  • Stinging Nettle
  • Oxeye Daisy

So there you go... if you have an emergency and need to forage for food, these are just a few of the things you can look for while out in the woods.

A Few Quick Foraging Tips
  • Improvise a piece of fabric to gather food into so you can carry it easily without dropping any.
  • Use a digging tool, like a stick or sharp rock, when digging for roots.
  • Find other people who are more experienced at foraging for food. They can teach you more about what foods are good to eat and what ones to avoid.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help.
  • Research any foods you find that you are unsure about BEFORE eating them.
  • Don't wander too far into the woods that you might get lost. Keep your bearings.
  • Start off simple with common plants that you recognize. You will start to become an expert at the stranger plants over time.
  • Learn how to mix various foods together, such as dandelion bits with slices of apple. It tastes better that way.
  • Your body may not be used to eating wild plants - nibble a tiny bit at a time. Don't try to make a whole meal out of them if you are just doing this as a hobby and it is not an emergency.
  • Even if it is an emergency and you are worried about how your body will react to a new food, stick to nibbling and snacking on them. Don't just gorge yourself on dandelions.


Want to learn more? Don't worry, I will be writing more on this topic. This is just Part One of a series of posts on the topic of Foraging.

Happy Foraging for Food!

Update, More Posts about Foraging!

Foraging for Food - Part Two, More Foraging Tips and Tricks

Foraging for Food - Part Three, An Introduction to Mushrooms

Foraging for Food - Part Four,  A Cup of Tea

Foraging for Food - Part Five, Foraging in the Winter

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