The survival rule of three’s says that humans can survive 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. In a survival situation, once you have sufficient shelter and a suitable water supply you can start to think about your food options.
Mother Nature provides us with a wide variety of potential survival foods. However some food sources may not appear obvious to us. Most will likely appear disgusting and not fit for consumption.
Get over it! Even though we can live for 3 weeks without food, our energy reserves deplete, and we become lethargic without food intake. Do you want to wither away to nothing because a food source is “non-standard” or will you decide to live and maintain your life and independence?
In a survival situation, you need to get the “Hunter/Gatherer” mentality. When an opportunity to eat presents itself, you must take it.
Here is a list of some edible but not very appetizing options that Mother Nature provides.
Most ant species are edible although the taste of them is pretty sour (quite vinegar like) this taste comes from an acid that the ant secretes when threatened. Ant larvae are also edible but don’t have the sour taste.
You can find ant larvae in clumps under rocks or at the top of anthills if they are being moved or kept warm.
To use ants for food, you can put a stick in the top of an anthill, wait for it to be covered in ants and then shake them off into a container. You then have a few choices – eat them there and then (ants are fine to eat raw but you may want to kill them first to prevent them biting you), put a lid on the container to suffocate the ants and eat them later (this method will give them a more sour taste as they will secrete more acid) or you can roast them straight away which will kill them quicker meaning less acid and less sour taste.
Slugs and Snails
In France and many fine dining establishments, snails are considered a delicacy. They are a great source of protein.
During the warm, wet months of the year slugs and snails will be pretty readily available. They will be found on wet ground although most species of slugs and snails live in water; either way – you shouldn’t have to look too hard to find them.
You MUST cook slugs and snails before eating. Both are hosts to a parasite called Rat Lungworm which they get from eating feces of rodents infected with the parasite. This parasite cannot live inside a human host but it can cause a toxic reaction leading to severe brain damage.
Another problem with slugs and snails is that they eat things that can be toxic to us too. Before cooking you will need to gut them to remove any potential undesirables from their digestive system.
For a slug this is done by cutting off its head and squeezing out its innards. For a snail steam them to remove the shell and then slit open the belly to remove the cooked insides before eating.
Worms are easily found after a heavy rain as they need to come to the surface of the soil to prevent drowning. They are also easy to dig for.
Once you have found the worms, drop them into a container of fresh, clean water for a few minutes. The worms will purge themselves on the water and you can then eat them raw.
All species of snake, venomous and non-venomous are edible. Snakes are found all over the world. Snakes may be sunning themselves in a sunny spot (they are cold blooded so need to get warm this way) or along stones and under rocks are other places you may find them.
Before eating a snake you need to skin it, gut it and cook it. Cut off the snakes head and then peel back the skin from the neck down. It will turn inside out as you pull it down the body. Remove insides and then cook over a fire before eating.
A word of warning – once you have removed the head of a venomous snake, bury it or throw it straight onto the fire. The head is where the venom is and the head may still react to a touch by biting and delivering a shot of venom – be very careful!
Most reptiles can be eaten using this method including lizards, turtles etc.
What To Avoid
In regards to insects to avoid here is a list of basic guidelines to consider:
• Avoid brightly colored insects – bright colors are natures’ warning!
• Avoid hairy insects – can irritate the throat
• Avoid smelly insects – another of natures warning signs!
One last consideration for eating insects – if you have a shellfish allergy do NOT eat insects!
Other potential food sources to avoid are:
• Wild mushrooms – unless you are a mushroom expert and know with 100% certainty that the mushroom in front of you is safe to eat – do not take the risk – many mushrooms are extremely toxic to humans
• Avoid eating toads as many are poisonous. Some can make you sick just by handling them as they have glands that secrete toxins through their skin.
• Some lizards – although some lizards can be eaten as described above there are a few to avoid. All species of Salamander are poisonous and can cause problems if eaten. If in any doubt – find another source of food.