What will you eat if the grocery stores close?

Whenever I ask people what they will eat if the grocery stores close (because of war, something wrong with the grid or transportation system, or massive food shortage/famine,) they always say they will hunt and forage for food. Is that your plan too?

I started thinking about this plan....everyone's plan...and realized it's just not going to work. Let's look at my suburban city as an example. My city is 35 square miles and houses 70,000 people (or 2000 people per square mile.) Unlike much of the urban and suburban spaces, our city is not as densely populated because a good junk of our city contains natural wildlife preserve land. We personally live right next to a corner of this land.

Because of the preserve, we routinely see deer, rabbits, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, eagles, wild turkeys, geese, and other animals. When discussing people's "hunting" plans, they often reference these animals.

I have been watching these "herds" for a few years; observing their patterns and travel habits. Our largest herd of deer has 17 members, the turkeys around a dozen. But.... these just might be the all of the deer/turkeys in the entire preserve. It takes a lot of wild forest to support animals (and humans) so if the entire population of  70,000 is counting on just 17 deer and a dozen turkeys....we're going to have a problem!

Not to mention the fact that my neighbors go out of their way to eradicate as much wildlife as possible. They totally eradicated the chipmunk population in 2009 and it has never returned. They are going heavy against the meadow mice (voles) and get really squeamish about the snakes,coyotes and foxes. Even if they don't kill the big animals directly, the poisoning of the smaller ones (voles, chipmunks, snakes) end up indirectly poisoning the larger ones. I found one poisoned fox already this spring.

Okay - back to the plan of foraging and hunting. Animals are not as plentiful as you would like to believe, especially in high density areas without preserved wild life refuges- unless you happen to live next to a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO - how the majority of all American meat is grown!)

But someone is going to kill the few animals in the wilderness. They are not going to do it in a sustainable manner, and they will probably waste most of the meat while trying to use it.

Don't let that be you. If you plan on hunting, get some experience! Learn how to hunt properly (and fairly!!) Learn how to properly field dress and then cook and store the animal. But be aware, that others will do whatever they can to eat and will probably decimate the wild animal population.

On to food.... What are you going to "forage" for and how do you know what is even in your area? Are you going to rely on a book or the internet in the middle of a crisis? How far will you have to travel for a decent food source? Which ones are the most valuable (for calories/vitamins?)

Once you
identify something edible, what part of the plant do you eat? Do you know how to prepare it, store extras, propagate additional plants?

This is information you should figure out now. Hopefully you  never need to use it. But if you are ever lost in the woods for a few days on your own or we have a major crisis and you need to feed your children, you better be prepared.

Personally, I have scoured a 1 mile circle around my home. We are fortunate to border the preserve and to be near 3 lakes and a stream. I  know where to get fertilizer for my own garden, I know where and what I can plant in an emergency, and I am familiar with the patterns of the local birds and mammals. I also have the supplies necessary to fish.

Even still - it's slim pickings out there. If we were the only people here, I could feed my family. It may not be everything they ever wanted, but I could do it. With 70,000 people attached to the same few resources, things change drastically. In that case, you need to be able to protect yourself and your supplies. Beyond that, you need to know every edible and poisonous plant in your region.

Here is a list of the edibles within a 1 mile radius of my home. I have not found everything that is edible in our region. That list is below and I will be expanding my circle to 2 miles so that I may locate (and possibly relocate) the last few wild edibles.  A little wildscaping can go a long way.
Can you spot the edibles I helped "wildscape" into this forest clearing? Most people will never notice and this type of "gardening" provides emergency food that is invisible to the average person.

You should create a similar list for your area. I keep all my information in a binder, filled with copious notes on how to positively identify, detailed location information, and proper food preparation, storage, and propagation.

For our cold climate area -
Found Wild Edibles
Riverbank Grapes
Maple Tree
Birch Tree
Ash Trees
Mountain Ash
Linden/Basswood Trees
Pine Trees
Spruce trees
Black Walnuts
Honey locust
Siberian Pea Shrub
Curly dock/yellow dock
Wood sorrel
June Berries
Wild rose
Sour cherry tree
Black raspberries
Black Elderberry
Wood nettles
Stinging Nettles
Red raspberries
Ostrich Ferns
Puff Mushrooms
Wild apples
Oxeye daisy
Red/white clover
Sheep sorrel
Meadow Salsify
Balloon flowers
Aronia chokeberry
Wild chokeberries
White and Red Oak Trees
Goosefoot/lamb’s quarters
Pineapple weed
Wild Amaranth (red root and green)
Gelder Rose
Juniper berries
Jewel weed
Virginia water leaf (top of our forest, leaves look stained by water)
Solomon’s Seal
Walking Onions
Carnation petals
hog peanuts
Hickory nuts (pignut?)

Still to locate
Water reeds - like the grass of cat tails
Ground nuts
Wild ginger
Shepards purse
Wild mustards
Hazel nuts
Pin Cherry
Sand Cherry
Beach Plum and American Plums
Cow Parsnip
Autum Olive
Mulberry Tree
Water Lily
Yellow pond lily
High Bush Cranberry
Perennial ground cherries
Nannyberries/Black haws
Chicken of woods mushrooms
Hen of woods
Chantrelle Mushrooms
Wild Rice
Arrowhead roots
Evening primrose
Golden Clove/currant
Wild Flax

Poisonous Plants I have located:
Blue cohosh
White/Red baneberry - doll’s eyes
Pits, bark, leaves of cherry trees
Oak leaves
Jack in pulpit berries and roots
Poison sumac
Yew seeds and leaves
Poison Hemlock - all parts
Honeysuckle - all colors
Porcelain berry
Virginia Creeper berries
Tomato/Potato/ground cherry/rhubarb leaves
Crown Vetch
Buckthorn berries
False solomon’s seal
Red elderberry
All parts of black elderberry except ripe flowers and berries
Oriental bittersweet - little pumpkin fruits
Poison Ivy
Bleeding Hearts
Daffodil, crocus, hyacinth, narcissus
Holly berries
Water Hemlock
American bittersweet
Prickly cucumber
Chrysanthemums - shasta daisies, chrysanthemum, mums,

Do yourself a favor and educate yourself on the plants and animals that are wild in your area. It might make the difference between survival, starvation, and accidental poisoning.

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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate all your tips, advice, and well wishes!


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