Food for survival

Although food is not exactly high on the priorities of survival, it is on people’s mind a lot! It also pays to know some things about wild food for various reasons; it can stave off the boredom that is likely to set in, it can keep up the spirits as well as provide some sorely needed vitamins and minerals. But should you find yourself in a survival situation you can’t simply go out and gather some food. It requires prior knowledge, otherwise there is the possibility you could be turning your survival situation into one with a very detrimental outcome.

Learning about wild foods is fun and a journey not a destination. There is an abundance of food out there, ripe for the picking, if you know where to look. This can be food that is foraged from your local neighbourhood, weeds, natives, and what is lovingly referred to as garden-escapees. Fennel, garlic, dandelion, rosehips and puha are all such common and easily used ‘wild’ foods.

The secret lies in getting knowledge, practice, knowledge and practice. Start simply. We have mentioned some easily obtained wild foods on this website before such as dandelion or onion weed. Start by really incorporating these foods into your daily life and then think about the more ‘survival’ type foods such as the cabbage tree, the black fern or the supple jack.

Survival stressors: Depression, fatigue and boredom

You are lost, cold, miserable and totally alone in the bush. Night is setting in and you have built a simple shelter that will keep you reasonably comfortable, you are okay for water and hunger has not yet set in.

If you have managed to keep a lid on fear and succeeded in obtaining some shelter and are in not immediately in any life threatening danger, your next battle will most likely be with depression, fatigue or boredom. These three stressors are intertwined. Boredom can lead to depression, depression can lead to fatigue, and fatigue can increase feelings of depression and so on. In a survival situation feelings of loneliness and sadness can be stronger than most of us imagine.


Lost! Teach your kids what to do if they get lost

There are many, many things that you can teach your children about safety and survival in the wilderness. But the most important thing to teach your children if they ever get lost is to stay put. Most of like to think our children would never find themselves in a situation where they are lost and alone. We (as brilliant parents) simply won’t allow that to happen! But then again anyone who is a parent also realizes how quickly things can happen with children. A moment of inattention and everything can change.

Hopefully you are well prepared when taking children outdoors and if anything goes wrong, you will be there to deal with it. However, good preparation takes account of planning for the worst case scenario and this includes the possibility that your child may get lost and be alone. Ideally your child will have some survival equipment attached to their body (back pack or belt bag) and know how to use the contents. Failing that at the very least your child should have adequate clothing, a whistle and water on them when you go in the great outdoors.


Regardless of age all children should be taught to stay where they are when they realize they are lost. Teach your children to STOP & STAY.


Fear in a survival situation

Imagine being lost, alone, possibly injured or in pain and having to face a cold night in an unfamiliar or hostile environment. How will you react? What emotions will you experience? Fear is a very common reaction to such a situation. Being in an environment where you have extremely limited control and only partial information can be terrifying. In a survival situation fear easily makes an appearance. Fear of the unknown, fear of discomfort, fear of one’s own limitations, fear of death and interestingly fear of embarrassment.

Hanging out for a roast chicken

Ever since we ‘rescued’ the chickens from a free-range farm, it has felt wrong to buy free-range chicken. Please don’t misunderstand, to those of you still buying chicken – please buy free range. It is definitely better than battery farmed. But not good enough for our liking. So we made a pact to only eat our own ‘free-range’ chicken. Knowing it has truly free ranged and had a good (if short) life was enough for us. But despite most websites making it look easy and positive, there are a few issues to  raising your own chickens.

Unless you are perfectly set up for it, raising your own meat chickens is a bit of hit and miss. We were doing reasonably well but with the move to the Hawke’s Bay we lost our rooster. No rooster means no baby chicks!! We managed to bring one lot of babies (and mum) with us, as well as some that we  call ‘teenagers’ (in behaviour as well as size). But after culling four of the chickens we now have to wait until the new rooster grows up and help us to produce some more baby chickens.

Ebola, the ongoing issue

The Ebola scare has not yet gone away, if anything it is getting more pertinent for Western society with the first case now officially declared in New York. We don’t know if it will hit our shores, and if it does how wide spread it will be. Ebola is not airborne and, at this stage, only spreads through bodily fluid. Of course this includes being momentarily airborne in the particles released by the body when people vomit or sneeze. What we do know is that some disease, someday will be widespread and detrimental to all the world’s population – including New Zealand.

Amazing Willow

Spring is in the air and the Willow trees are getting their first leaves. I have a love/hate relationship with willow. Willow likes moist soils and temperate climates and has a large and aggressive root system. It is due to this extensive and strong root system that willows can be so problematic. They are known to lift man-made structures (drainage systems, garden tiles and pathways).

What I love about willow is the many, many positive uses it offers. Willow wood is fabulous stuff and has been used for manufacturing things by humans since the earliest of times. The medicinal properties of willow are well known by many cultures across the world.

Manuka as a medicinal plant

Wild foods not only provide free, nutritional food that bonds us closer to nature, many of them also have amazing medicinal purposes. Much of our modern medicine comes from knowledge gained from medicinal plants. Using medicinal plants instead of man-made pharmaceuticals is gentler on the body, cheaper for the wallet and potentially prevents you from getting adverse side effects.

Having said, that we are not advocating for ignoring medical advice or refusing modern medication.  We do recommend trying a natural approach first, for those ailments that don’t require urgent medical intervention. We also recommend gaining knowledge of medicinal plants for survival situations when there is no medical help available. New Zealand is fortunate to have the amazing Manuka growing freely.