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.

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.

Starting the journey with wild foods

Finding food and eating it can be a great pleasure in life, as well beneficial for your health and wealth. There are over 300 edible wild plants in New Zealand, with close to 200 of those being native. Then there are many plants which can be foraged in the wild, although they may be ‘escapees’ from cultivated gardens. It is not the lack of wild food that is the challenge for most of us. Not knowing what is edible and how to use or prepare the edible plants that is the challenge for many people.

Identifying and preparing locally, naturally grown wild food is a learning process that requires time and dedication. But it is a journey that is good for the body, good for the soul and good for the planet. It is a about the journey, not the destination. Follow the seasons, eat locally and reconnect with your innate ability to know what is good for you. If it seems overwhelming just remember that Lao Tzu said, “The Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”.