Are you wondering “what is Aquaponics?” The most simple definition is that it is the marriage of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants) that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the growing plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. The third participants are the microbes (nitrifying bacteria) and composting red worms that thrive in the growing media. They do the job of converting the ammonia from the fish waste first into nitrites, then into nitrates and the solids into vermicompost that that are food for the plants.Man with bad back In combining both systems aquaponics capitalizes on the benefits and eliminates the drawbacks of each. Continue reading
How to Test Wild Edibles in 3 Steps
When SHTF, even the most prepared of us may find themselves separated from their prepped stores, and out on their own. All of our planning can go south quickly, and we may find ourselves fleeing danger with little more than the clothes on our back. It can happen to anyone. Depending on what you’ve managed to escape with, triaging your needs (once safe) must be the first priority. Food is on top 3 priorities, and for that reason looking for edible plants in the woods is one skill to learn for survival.
Rule of Three’s
When triaging needs, remember the “rule of three’s.” 3 hours without protection from the cold, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food. Most camping/wilderness deaths are caused by hypothermia: in a cold environment without the proper shelter or clothing to keep you warm, hypothermia can cause death in as little as 3 hours.
Remember, temperatures usually drop at night, often significantly. Just because it was warm during the day doesn’t mean that it will stay that way out of doors at night. If you feel it getting cooler as the sun begins to set, or you know cold is coming, find some warm clothes, a blanket, and make yourself some form of shelter to retain your body heat.
Once that’s covered, next comes water. You can survive without water for up to 3 days. But your demand for water increases when you perspire, and during times of high stress. Water will be a high priority if you don’t have enough.
The body can survive for up to 3 weeks without food (not true for diabetics).
And although 3 weeks might sound like you have plenty of time to get by, and that you might not need to worry immediately, think again.
If you’re used to eating regularly, like most of us are, it won’t take long before that hunger will impact your judgment.
24-48 hours without food, and you can expect to feel lightheaded, fatigued, and possibly even dizzy. It’s not fun. So while your need for food might be the least immediate of the three, it is definitely a priority.
Warnings to Keep in Mind when Looking for Edible Plants
Many plants are poisonous, and eating a toxic plant can cause reactions within the body ranging from relatively mild, like vomiting, to the more severe — organ failure, coma, and eventually death. One of the safest methods to determine if a plant is safe to eat is to use the “Universal Edibility Test” developed by the U.S. Army.
But before we get into how to test a plant, there are a few general tips to consider first.
Don’t even consider testing a plant that there isn’t a lot of. You’re taking a risk by testing and eating it, and you want to make sure you’re not going through all this trouble (and potentially death) unless you can make several meals from it. If it’s just one small outcropping, make a mental note of its location, and move on. Try to find a more abundant resource.
Never eat mushrooms or fungi. Period. I know some mushrooms are really tasty. But unless you REALLY know what you’re doing, eating the wrong mushroom will cause you permanent, sometimes fatal, injury. And it’s not possible to test mushrooms or fungi with the Universal Edibility Test because a toxic mushroom will affect your nervous system. These effects won’t show up for days, and by the time they do, there’s no treatment. Just avoid all mushrooms.
Don’t eat plants grown in polluted areas. Avoid roadside plants because car exhaust and other chemicals like antifreeze are more abundant at the roadside and could have contaminated the plants growing there.
Same goes for plants growing near a polluted water source. Do not eat anything that’s growing in brackish, murky, stagnant, or smelly water or soil. When a plant grows in or near contaminated water, the plant itself becomes contaminated.
Basically, if it’s growing someplace where you wouldn’t want to step, or in something you wouldn’t want to get on your face because of its smell, avoid it!
Say NO to anything that’s rot, mold, soft. Anything that’s rotting, moldy, or overly soft (like before rotting) is a definite avoid. Yes, blue cheese is mold, but mold in general is not your friend. Most biological weapons programs start with mold. If it’s moldy or mildewed, stay away!
Some other general “avoid this” type of indicators are:
- milky or discolored sap
- beans, bulbs, or seeds inside pods
- bitter or soapy taste
- spines, fine hairs, or thorns
If you come across a plant that smells a little bit like almonds, it could contain cyanide. Avoid.
If the leaves are shiny, and/or grouped in three’s, it’s likely poison ivy, and you’ll want to steer clear. Some folks will say certain colored berries are OK to try. But unless you’re sure you’re eating a blackberry, raspberry, or blueberry, I’d give these a pass.
Boiling can help remove some bitterness, but isn’t very effective at removing toxins if the plant is poisonous. Don’t think boiling a toxic plant will make it edible. It won’t. And before you risk your health by testing an unknown plant, if there’s meat available, stick to eating meat.
The Universal Edibility Test
You’ve found an abundant plant, away from the road and other sources of contamination, and you want to test it. The following is from The U.S. Army Survival Manual FM21-76. It’s important to note that while this test comes from the U.S. Army, there are experts who don’t believe this test is effective, because some plants can cause serious adverse reactions simply from skin contact.
And even this Army manual emphasizes the importance of knowing and being able to identify the edible plants in your area, and having a field manual to help do so, so as to not need to perform this test. But when SHTF, this is probably better than starving.
Use with caution, and use common sense. You’ll need to fast for 8 hours before testing a plant. Remember to pick something abundant, so you’re not potentially wasting your time (and risking your life) for a light snack.
Some parts of a plant can be poisonous, while others aren’t. For example, a plant can have poisonous leaves, but the roots and stalks might be fine. So take the plant apart into its main components.
1. Skin Contact Test: Crush up the part of the plant you want to eat — only the one part, like the leaves OR the stalk, for example — and rub it on the inside of your wrist or elbow for 15 minutes. Once that’s done, watch the area for the next 8 hours (during which time you can only drink water – no food). If there’s any reaction like redness, bumps, burning, pain, itching, etc, you don’t want it inside your stomach.
If after 8 hours your skin is still fine, then it’s on to step 2. Hold the plant to your closed lips for 3 minutes. If you feel any tingling, burning, itchiness, really any unusual reaction, toss this part of the plant and start over with another part.
If there’s no lip reaction, place the plant on your tongue for 15 minutes. Again you’re looking for any weird sensations. Any tingling, burning, itching, etc. spit it out, rinse out your mouth, and move on to another part of the plant. Just because it tastes bad, or bitter, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad for you. You’re looking for a reaction to know if it’s safe to continue or not. When in doubt, spit it out. And move on.
2. The Chew Test: Now you can chew up this plant part in your mouth — but don’t swallow. Hold the chewed up plant in your mouth for 15 minutes, looking for any of the earlier mentioned reactions.
If you react badly to it, spit it out, rinse your mouth out with water, and press on. If 15 minutes pass and you’re still good, swallow what’s in your mouth. If you feel nausea, or any ill effects, you need to make yourself vomit and then drink plenty of water. After you’ve swallowed, wait 8 hours to test it properly. You can have water during these next 8 hours, but no other food.
3. The Bigger Bite: If the plant passes the test over the next 8 hours, and you’ve had no ill effects, try eating about 1/4 cup of the plant part. Wait another 8 hours, drinking only water. Eat no other food. This is the final stage of the test. If you’ve made it to the end of the 8 hours and your fine, then the plant part (only the part you tested) is safe to eat.
You’ll need to repeat the full test with every other part of the plant, if you want to eat it.
Other Things to Expect
Most wild edible plants will taste less bitter when they’re young. The more mature the leaf, the more bitter it will generally taste. Boiling offers some relief from the bitterness. But some plants you might want to boil multiple times.
Many edible plants are rich with anti-oxidants, and have been a staple of many native diets for centuries.
Being able to identify the plants in your area before there is the need, is the best preparation for finding edible plants.
Disclaimer: This is not meant as a field guide, and before you eat (or test) an unknown plant, do your best to follow the general guidelines from the Army Survival Manual detailed above, use common sense, and be careful.
Written by Joe Touchstone for Survivopedia.com
Since you never know when you may be caught high and dry in the wilderness with little or nothing in the way of survival gear or emergency food, this article aims to arm you with some extra knowledge about common wild edibles. We’ll go over 10 of the most common wild edibles, what nutrition they contain and how to prepare them or which part(s) to eat.
The nutrients in dandelion include minerals and vitamins such as beta carotene, iron and calcium. Dandelion is also loaded with potassium, biotin, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc, as well as vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, C, E and vitamin D. Both the green leaves and the yellow flowers are edible, though most people prefer to just eat the leaves; dandelion greens can be eaten in salads or boiled like spinach or added to soups. They tend to be a more bitter green, so if you want to ease the bitterness try boiling them for a while with 2 – 3 changes of water.
2) Pine Trees
Pine trees might not seem like an obvious source of food, but they are actually a pretty nice, versatile food source. Use pine needles to steep a zesty, refreshing tea that will also replenish your vitamin C levels – pine needle tea had 3 – 5 times as much vitamin C as orange juice. Pine nuts are also edible, highly nutritious and packed with protein; you can eat them raw, roasted, tossed into a salad or ground up into nut butter.
During spring and summer the new, soft green growth of pine needles is edible, too. In a truly tight spot, you can eat the inner bark of a pine tree as well. The inner bark is a good source of sugars and several different vitamins, and you can eat it raw or make it a little more palatable by boiling it. The inner bark can also be dried out and pulverized into flour.
Another plant known more as a weed and a pest in the garden than as a potential food source, you’d be surprised how tasty clover can actually be. White and red clover are both edible, and can be chewed on and eaten raw, tossed in salads, or boiled in soups, stews or a tea. Clover flowers are especially useful for making tea, with a naturally light sweet flavor. Many traditional recipes for hot teas and tonics include clover, as well.
Okay, so these are often cultivated specifically for their lovely springtime blooms, but many tulips grow wild and they are an edible source of food. Just ask the Dutch who, during WW2, resorted to eating tulips in the face of widespread famine. The edible parts of a tulip include the flower petals, which can be eaten raw, added to salads, boiled in soups or made into tea.
Tulip bulbs are also edible, although the center of the bulb should be removed and they must be cooked very thoroughly before being eaten due to their mild toxicity. Peel tulip bulbs like an onion prior to boiling or cooking; you can also dry the bulbs and pound them into flour. Tulips aren’t the tastiest edible ever, though, especially the bulbs.
5) Black Walnut
Walnuts are one of the easier wild nuts to identify, just look for the giant green ball, sometimes as large as a fist, hanging from the branches or turning gradually brown / black on the ground in autumn. Black walnuts have a rough outer husk that will be green on the tree and then will turn black during autumn as the nuts sit on the ground; beneath the husk you’ll find the inner chamber that you break open to get the nut.
Rich in healthy fats as well as protein, black walnuts also contain magnesium, phosphorous, manganese and copper. The intrepid survivalist is in luck with black walnuts, too, because most animals don’t like chewing through the tough, bitter outer husk that protects the nut. That means you can find black walnuts still lying on the ground well into fall and winter.
6) Hazelnuts (Filberts)
Although these are a seasonal wild edible, hazelnuts are a fantastic, bountiful source of food when you can find them. Packed with calories, healthy fats and protein, hazelnuts are also a good source of vitamin E, manganese, thiamine and copper. Look for hazelnuts in the fall when they ripen within their little green husks. Hazelnuts generally grow in dense clusters, and you’ll know they are perfectly ripe when they practically fall out of their green husks.
7) Wild Asparagus
Quite similar to the kind you buy in store, wild asparagus has a much thinner stalk than its domesticated cousin, but it is equally edible and packed with nutrients. Whether you eat it raw or boil it, you can prepare wild asparagus exactly as you would the normal variety and it’s full of vitamin C, potassium, thiamine and vitamin B6.
While they aren’t the tastiest food ever, cattails provide a surprising source of emergency survival food in a pinch, and they beat eating beetles. Younger cattail is softer and quite edible, but you can also eat the rootstalk of the plant (wash it very thoroughly) either raw or boiled. The leaves can also be boiled and eaten, and you can eat the inner portions of the stalk raw or boiled to soften them. In spring and early summer, when the female spike on the cattail is still young and developing you can break it off and eat it raw like corn on the cob.
9) Rose Hips
While rose hips were once a staple in many folk remedies, and a popular item for making tea, jams and preserves, many people overlook this great wild edible. Sweet and tangy, these juicy red fruits grow in the summer and fall on wild roses after the petals have fallen from the flowers. There are many ways to eat rose hips, including steeped raw, steeped as a tea, in fruit salad and preserved as a jam. You can also make a light, sweet syrup from the juice of rose hips and they are a great source of calcium, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin A and manganese.
10) Raspberries, Blackberries & Boysenberries
For anyone with a sweet tooth and those who love their fruits, you’re in luck because in most areas wild raspberries, blackberries and even boysenberries tend to thrive. You can find these easily identified plants in forests, meadows, along country roads and practically everywhere in between, but be careful not to eat berries from plants treated with herbicides or pesticides.
While it might not need saying, you can collect these berries from mid-summer on through fall. Eat them raw, on cereal, in jams, dry them, bake them in pies or make juice of them, there are tons of things you can do with these sweet, tart berries. They’re also loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K and healthy sugars, so enjoy.
In reality, this should probably be another list in and of itself, since there are many, many types of wild mushrooms that are edible, but mushrooms in general are worthy of note. Whether you eat them raw, sauté them, grill them, boil them, make gravy of them or add them to soup or to eggs, wild mushrooms can add flavor and quite a bit of nutritional content to your meal.
When it comes to identifying mushrooms, however, you must be absolutely certain as there is no room for doubt; many edible mushrooms have poisonous relatives who look very similar and death by mushroom poisoning is a slow and painful process, so be careful. For those who know what they are doing, though, the forest offers a bounty of edible mushrooms, including: oyster mushrooms, chanterelles (an orange, trumpet-shaped mushroom), portabella mushrooms, lobster mushrooms, edible boletus (known more commonly as porcino mushrooms) and many more.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this short guide to some of the wild edibles available in a survival situation. Remember to exercise extreme caution whenever you consume wild edibles, and don’t consume a food unless you are absolutely certain of your identification.
This article has been written by Gaia Rady for Survivopedia.
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