FOOD (Part 2)
If it creeps, crawls, swims or flies it’s a source of nutrition, we don’t overlook anything when we are hungry. There are many sources of wild food that initially you may not regard as palatable, but as hunger pains grow all thoughts of fussiness disappear. Initially on a survival course many students swear they would never eat worms. Towards the end of the course they are asking ‘where do you find them’ The signs and symptoms of hunger start with hunger pains. The stomach growls in protest at the lack of food its receiving. Digestive juices have nothing to process and noisily search the system. As food denial continues, loss of weight, weakness, and loss of co-ordination are all experienced. Dizziness and possible blackouts occur, especially when standing up. The heart beat slows down, and the victim is more sensitive to the cold. In acute starvation a craving for salt is usual. The decreased heart rate is the body’s way of conserving energy. Vision is not affected and strangely enough hearing is more acute. These are survival instincts kicking in. But as hunger continues we suffer a deficiency of vitamins and this will deteriorate our senses.
Salt is essential and must be replaced when lost from the body. We loose salt in sweat and urine, so the harder we work, and the hotter it is, the more salt is lost. The first sign of salt deficiency is muscle cramps, leading to dizziness, nausea, and tiredness.
If you carry salt tablets in your survival kit never swallow them whole. Break them up and dissolve in water. Salt can be obtained from animal blood and sea water. Some plants like the Nipa palm and Hickory tree produce salt crystals by boiling the roots. Chop the roots and boil till all the water has evaporated. The black crystals left contain salt.Never take salt when water is scarce it will aggravate your thirst and cause vomiting, further complicating the situation. Vitamins and other essential elements are found in vegetable and animals, don’t discard anything. Liver is rich in Vitamin A, and fruits supply Vitamin C and K. Eat as varied a diet as possible. The blood from animals must never be wasted. Try to plan for at least one good meal a day. Sit down and make a feast of it however meagre your ration is. Take your time to prepare and cook it, savour the moment make it last. This will help you relax and have something to look forward to.Cooking makes food more palatable but nutrients can be lost if cooked wrongly. Boiling will destroy the vitamin C content of plants. Nettles are rich in Vitamin C but unpalatable raw. Seep them in hot water till tender. This destroys the acetic acid which causes the sting but preserves the vitamins. A word of caution though, boiling does not destroy all poisons. If you boil rhubarb it leaves you a very poisonous toxin conectrate. Roasting meat over a fire wastes a lot of fat which drips into the fire and burns. Fat is very hard to come by in the wild so preserve what you have. Make a stew and boil up the flesh skin and bones, with blood added. When tender take of the boil and add plants and fungi, simmering gently till tender. Eat and drink the lot. This way you get maximum nutrition wasting nothing. Roots and tubers must be boiled to release the nutriments they contain. Once tender they may be roasted to give variety to a monotonous diet. Overcome all prejudices eat whatever you can. Remember ‘what wont fatten will fill’. Some plants like grass cannot be broken down by humans. In trying to do so the body uses vital minerals and vitamins, which are lost when the bowels are evacuated. The resulting dump of grass will contain more nutriments than when digested, robbing our body of these precious elements. So learn what good food value is and what to leave alone.
World wide there are thousands of species of edible plants that the survivor can eat. Living off the land plants are the easiest and most common source of food, they just have to be identified, gathered and cooked. Use the senses to try and identify the plant. Crush it to express the juice and smell. It may have a familiar odour like aniseed, garlic, mint, or ginger. Discard any foul smelling specimens. Avoid any with a milky sap unless absolutely positive. Dandelions are a classic example of this. Rub lightly on the lower lip. If any irritation is experienced like a stinging or burning sensation, discard. The lips are sensitive and can be used to test for any irritants. Select young fresh specimens. Some plants although edible when young become toxic as they age. Chew a thumbnail size sample and gargle the saliva around the mouth. If any discomfort or strong soapy taste is felt spit out and seek another species. The next step is to place the chewed up sample inside the lower lip deep down where an absorption gland is situated. Leave it here for a few minutes but spit out if any bad symptoms develop. If all clear after this point, swallow the sample and wait five hours before safely saying that plant is not poisonous.
This test is only valid for plants. Plants have been used as a source of food and medicine throughout the ages. They acquired nick names as a result of their uses or appearance. Colts foot and shepherds purse looks like the name implies. Lungwort used to treat respiratory complaints looks like diseased lungs. Comfrey is known as ‘knit bone’ as it is beneficial in healing broken bones, but there is a lot of folk law and old wives tales connected to plants. The Latin name for comfrey ‘Symphytum Officinale’ endorses the properties of the plant. Any title ending with Officinale is recognised by the medical profession as having healing properties. The dandelion is also recognised as an important plant being called Taraxcum Officinale.
Next edition we will discuss some of the common plants which are easy to recognise and of great benefit to the survivor.
Remember, all the above is discussed and practiced in detail on the Trueways 5 Day Basic to Advanced Survival Course. Click here to secure your place.
In the mean time, KEEP SAFE and remember ‘you are what you eat’.
Trueways Survival Expert.