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Learn how to forage for wild edibles safely and efficiently

By Edited Feb 20, 2016 0 1

Foraging for food is a fun and useful skill to learn.

Many people often believe that they need to bring traditional things such as hotdogs and marshmallows on their outdoor camping trips; however, finding out how to forage for food while hiking can provide you with a brand new skill, and could even start a brand new camping tradition. 

Foraging for food is a terrific way to pass time when backpacking and camping out.  There's something special about eating food that you've foraged yourself during your camping trip, and the food that you collect outdoors is fresher and always tastes better than the store-bought stuff.

Edible Wild Plants Fieldbook

Edible Wild Plants Fieldbook

When you decide to become a forager, your first step should be to decide on how to go about the task of foraging, and learn exactly what the goal of the forager is.  The objective of the forager is always to gather wild growing food items so that you can maximize the energy gained with a foraging bout. This consists of checking out numerous foraging patches and searching for edibles while you are backpacking. If the surroundings contains a lot of small patches of plants, forager's can easily collect food in these patches without travelling long distances. 

While you are foraging for food you have to be cautious about the vegetation that you collect simply because some plants and flowers are dangerous if ingested. Stay away from places where there could be toxic contamination from traffic, industrial or farming pollution.  Plants in those areas might be polluted and dangerous to eat even though the plants are normally safe to eat.

wild asparagus

Some plants might be edible at specific stages of development, and poisonous at other stages.  One example of one such plant is the pokeweed.  Pokeweed shoots are safe to eat when they're young, however they become poisonous after they become older and begin branching out.  It could be a little challenging finding out what exactly is safe to consume in the beginning.  Some times a plant might be toxic if eaten raw, but be perfectly safe to eat if cooked. A huge part of looking for wild edibles is finding out how to spot them, and being aware what may be safely taken and ingested from certain areas.

When you initially begin to forage, it is best to concentrate on collecting just a couple of easily recognizable plants and flowers, and it's also advisable to consume a tiny amount the very first time. Once you get started in foraging, basically try observing what plants are around as you're hiking in the forests, pastures and countryside. Take a field book with you and use it to find out what plants are safe to eat.

The Forager's Harvest

The Forager's Harvest Fieldbook

Discovering areas to forage might be a challenge depending on the time of the year. The quality and amount of food available in the different patches changes with time of year since different plants and flowers have different vegetation and flowering seasons. 

Even when you're lost while in the forest for a couple of days, your time and energy could be better spent eating foraged food such as dandelion greens while waiting for a rescue party, instead of trying to find your way out of the forest. Food can be found in most surroundings, even in the most urban places. You just have to be equipped with the knowledge needed to discover the bounty of food that is before you.



Jun 2, 2012 9:35am
Nice to see an article about foraging! I have been an avid mushroom picker and forest grazer ever since moving to the Oregon coast 16 years ago. It's a great way to keep any hike interesting.
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