A rather disturbing title and one which is even more important than some of the subjects we’ve covered here before, like fire, water or shelter.
Without food, and especially if we are stuck in a very cold or very dry situation, our survival will depend on what we have available to eat, be that in freeze-dried packs that you managed to bring with you, or whatever may be around you.
Let me say straight away here that if you’re a vegetarian, and you are very definitely not going to eat any animal matter to survive, then it could well be a case of kissing goodbye to your life! In a life or death situation, life is more sacrosanct than ideological standpoints. Harsh as it may sound, given the choice of starving to death or surviving by eating animals, I know which one I would opt for.
So, let’s assume that you have decided that you will eat whatever is nearby or at hand. What do we eat?
Well, the biggest group of live food is the insects. Ok, ok…I know….instant yuck! Despite being some of the most horrible or ugly-looking creatures on the planet, once we overcome our very natural aversion to eating them, it’s surprising how much nutrition they can provide in an emergency.
Fine; now a little friendly advice…if you have a weak stomach and get queasy just at the mention of eating insects, look away now! I’m about to tell you how to go about collecting, preparing and eating various creepy-crawlies!
Where do you find them? Depending upon terrain, the most likely places will be under stones and rocks, in rocky crevices, in rotting trees or logs, even under loose bark of live trees.
Beetles, grasshoppers etc all have hard shells, so either remove them before eating or throw them onto a fire if you have one going; they will die almost instantly and be ready to eat in less than 30 seconds or so. If you are in a dire emergency you can of course eat them as they are.
Th taste will vary, but remember we are not interested in that at the moment…it’s a pure survival thing we are aiming at.
If you cannot eat them as they are, they can be ground up into a paste and eaten that way, or by heating them in a pan over the fire. Earthworms can be washed and eaten raw or thrown in a pan and boiled.
If you are stranded in a watery environment, then water-living creatures are a good bet. Almost all kinds of fish can be eaten, but do remember that some species may be carrying dangerous parasites, in which case always cook the fish first. Some fish may have poisons within their bodies, especially saltwater fish, so you should either know which types of fish are poisonous or if unsure, leave well alone.
The same goes for shelled molluscs. Most are harmless, but beware of eating molluscs that are not covered by water at high tide, as these may be poisonous. All molluscs can be eaten raw, but it’s better to boil them in water to kill any parasites that may co-exist within.
Which insects and animals do we need to avoid? Well, Nature provides us with a very important signal — any insect or animal that is brightly coloured should be left well alone; the colour is a warning sign! The same goes for any insect, frog, lizard etc which smells bad….
I have deliberately left out any information regarding bigger animals such as deer, hogs, etc etc as capturing these may not be possible when you are stranded, and indeed may well take far too long, by which time your energy levels will be severely diminished. Leave that prize moose you always wanted to shoot for another day!
At the end of the day, your survival depends on preparation. Always, always make sure you pack enough emergency rations. That way, you may not need to fall back on the horrible critters we’ve been talking about here!