Why Foraging for Wild Plants is Not a Good Survival Plan
I really enjoy knowing about the wild plants in my area. I have studied them for years. I had one really good teacher who actually lived for nine months by foraging, hunting, and fishing just to see if he could do it. He did do it, but it wasn’t easy. He, like our ancient ancestors, devoted nearly every waking hour to searching for food. If you think about it, man never really was able to advance himself until he developed agriculture. When you live a hunter/gatherer lifestyle, starvation is always at your door. It’s a nice romantic notion that you can just take off to the wilderness with your rifle and an axe and live off of the land, but the reality of the situation is harsh rather than romantic. Native people had an intimate knowledge of their environment. They learned to hunt, fish, and gather wild plants from birth. They learned to live with hunger, and they learned to eat things that would disgust a cat. And please note that their average life expectancy was about 35 years. Also, the hunter/gatherer lifestyle requires a vast territory. Even the most productive wilderness will only support about 1 person per square mile. That means over 2500 acres to support a family of four. That’s a lot of land, and remember that the starving hoards will be looking for a meal too. The same family of four could raise a one acre garden and feed themselves well.
The most successful and numerous Native American tribes were the ones that developed agriculture in addition to hunting and gathering, and I highly recommend this as a sensible approach to long term survival. Learn how to hunt with gun and bow, learn how to fish, learn how to trap, and learn about the edible wild plants in your area; but if you want a reliable source of food, learn how to garden and raise small livestock. I’ve gone bird hunting and come home empty handed, but I’ve never gone out to my chicken pen and failed to come back with a chicken. Keep your romantic notions, they’re fun to have; but be sensible at the same time and learn how to produce what you need.