Living Off The Land & Foraging

For most people, especially nowadays, the idea of living solely off the land and finding your own food seems an impossible task. What’s more, our urbanized society places very little value on finding their own food when most people live only minutes away from a supermarket.  

This mentality is all fine and good, but the second you find yourself stranded or lost in nature, left to your own devices, you will find that the ability to forage off the land is one which can often be the difference between you surviving or perishing. No matter your reasoning, it is always a good idea to, at very minimum, known some of the basic tips and guidelines to follow with regard to foraging for food.

Different Regions, Different Plants

The most basic rule of foraging as a strategy for living off the land is that no one region is exactly like the other. While one part of a given state may feature lush deciduous broadleaf forests, another may feature plains that offer an entirely different type of sustenance.

Knowing what is safe to eat in specific regions is essential because what is safe and what isn’t really varies from region to region. 

Commonly Foraged Plants

The following is a short list of some of the most popularly harvested plants and herbs from around the United States and the world. Short descriptions will accompany most plants, but you should always seek the advice of a more experienced forager before you go off and try it yourself. The dangers of eating certain plant species are far too great for the inexperienced forager to mess with.

  • Bullwhip Kelp

    • Large seaweed that can be typically found in bays and channels with depths of 30+ feet. Can grow to be up to 100 feet in length. Identified by its hollow stem with a bulb on the end. The bulb and its blades are able to be consumed safely.

  • Roses

    • In the summer months of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, rose petals are able to be eaten. Wild roses tend to have 5 petals and grow in clusters.

  • Chocolate Lily/Indian Rice

    • The chocolate lily is identified by spear-shaped, brownish leaves during the springtime. It can be found in the Pacific Northwest and throughout Asia. Can be eaten straight from the ground with minimal preparation.

  • Devil’s Club

    • A relative of ginseng, a shrub with spine-like stems. Found along coastal forests and can be used to make a healthy tea.

Commonly Foraged Berries

  • Red Raspberries

    • Found throughout North America, Europe, and Northwestern Asia. Grows along the banks of rivers, in clearings, and on the edges of forested areas. Can be picked and eaten when a medium/dark shade of red.

  • Blueberries

    • Found in many parts of the United States, including Alaska, blueberries can also be eaten straight from the bush. There are many different types of blueberries but all are able to be eaten safely.

  • Crowberry (Blackberry)

    • Found in the US Pacific Northwest and throughout the English Isles, blackberries are lavender-colored multifaceted berries. They grow very close to the ground.

Commonly Foraged Mushrooms

There exist a number of mushroom species that can be found in the wild and are great to eat. While this is the case, there also exists a large number of mushrooms that look identical to edible ones, but provide the person who consumes them with a host of unfavorable consequences.

Consult an expert forager or someone who has extensive knowledge of wild mushrooms and their safety.

This article serves to point out some of the most commonly found foods able to be foraged, but it must be said that there exists plenty more. The number one piece of advice we could give you with regard to foraging for food revolves around the safety factor. If you are not careful when trying to live off the land, you stand a very good chance of landing yourself in some hot water. Being lost in the wilderness combined with a food-induced sickness is not a situation anyone wants to find themselves in.