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Foraging means knowing which wild plants around you provide food and medicine. Adapted to your region, they grow in adverse conditions and are available when grocery store shelves are empty. When you know how to forage, you can survive.
We need plants to survive. Green growing things provide us with food and medicine, but more than that! We have always used plants for clothing, shelter, fuel, and even to make tools for hunting.
Our ancestors, even in the fairly recent past, knew where to find these useful plants and how to use and process them for their needs.
We still need plants to survive. That much hasn’t changed.
But today, especially in developed regions, we head to the market to buy processed and packaged plant foods and products.
We go to the pharmacy when we’re sick.
We buy vegetables from the grocery store.
For the most part, we have forgotten how to feed and heal ourselves unless we have money to buy supplies. Those supplies, of course, are vulnerable to natural disasters drought, pestilence, economics, and even government policies.
Foraging Prepares You for Any Emergency
Many of my readers are preppers. We store food and supplies to prepare for disasters.
That’s a good thing!
The problem, though? This preemptive planning only works when there are supplies to be had!
What happens when the food and medicine supplies are low? Disasters wipe out local supplies so that everything you CAN buy is too expensive to afford?
And of course many of us have survival gardens, but we all know how vulnerable those are. The same problems that can affect large farms – flooding, summer storms, drought – can decimate our backyard gardens. When the weather is so unpredictable or bad that nothing grows in your garden, you know that food is going to be expensive or difficult to buy at any price, and that drastically affects your survival.
Learn How to Forage
The answer is foraging, of course. It’s an indispensable survival skill that everyone needs to learn.
Growing in your backyard and around your neighbourhood are nutritious food plants and effective medicines. Many of the plants that we call weeds can actually feed and heal us. These aren’t delicate ‘domesticated’ plants that need careful nurturing, plenty of water, and just the right amount of sunshine. Wild plants are almost always hardy. Fiddleheads, for example, show up in the spring before the snow has melted.
When we know which wild plants can be eaten or used as medicine, and when we know other ways to use them, we can ensure the survival of our families even in worst-case scenarios.
Benefits of Foraging
More than just basic survival, learning how to forage provides you and your family with many benefits!
Familiarity with the Local Landscape
The crazy thing is that most of us never get to know our local landscape very well. We might have our familiar routes, but if we drive, bicycle, or even rush through them, what are we seeing?
When you learn to forage, you’ll slow down and actually pay attention to the wild plants along your path. This builds a stronger connection to nature as you start to understand its importance in even the most urban environment.
BUT there’s more.
The time you take in exploring your environment while foraging means you’re more able to identify safe evacuation routes and areas where you can put up shelter. After all, in the case of a zombie apocalypse, you might need to evacuate your home and you may well find that the usual roads are not passable by vehicle or on foot.
And you might even discover a source of drinkable water, or a fishing hole.
Promote Better Growth of Beneficial Wild Plants
Foraging is more than identifying an edible plant and harvesting every bit of it. Proper foraging practices are actually beneficial to wild plants and promotes healthy growth.
For one thing, when you take the time to learn about each plant, you’ll know how much you can safely harvest. Mint or nettle might get mowed down to the ground and still recover, but with others you’ll need to carefully select how much to take.
And when you collect seeds for planting elsewhere, you are spreading the species and perhaps relocating it to a more favourable growing spot. As long as it’s not invasive, that’s good for you and good for the plant.
Sumac is a wild plant (this one is in our backyard) that provides a healthy drink or delicious spice
Foraging is a Rewarding Activity
I recently saw someone joke about how patient farmers are. Anyone who can wait six months for a carrot is clearly an expert in patience.
One great thing about wild plants is that you don’t have to carefully tend them for months.
More than that, though, many of them are more nutritious than cultivated ones, especially in vitamins A and C, as well as significant amounts of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant. Wild plants are also not exposed to artificial fertilizers and pesticides.
The act of collecting plants also makes you more active if you’ve become accustomed to days of sitting around and watching Netflix. It’s active and relaxing at the same time. You’re walking, perhaps with a friend, and carefully gathering plants.
The fact is that a knowledge of foraging provides many benefits. It will enrich your life, increase your health, and help you to become more self-sufficient.
When you know which wild plants to eat and use as medicine, you can survive any adversity.
And, oh, yes, wild plants are free.