Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Food Stuffs: Know Your Neighborhood

Being bored silly with the treadmill, I used MapMyRun to map out a five mile route around my neighborhood this morning for my daily run/walk. Of course it is late summer so all kinds of food stuffs were in bloom, but it really opened my eyes to how many sources of free, wild food there are just outside my door. This may be a good project to do in your own neighborhood so that you will get an idea about the types of food available now, and with regular walks or runs (you can't see a lot of these things cruising by in a car at 60 miles per hour) throughout the year, get an idea of what kinds of food are available year-round where you live. Of course, in a SHTF scenario, everyone and their brother will be foraging for wild food when their stores get low, but at least you will have an idea of where to start looking. Here's what I saw near my neighborhood:
  • Gardens: apparently many of my neighbors have green thumbs and wonderful gardens of all sizes

  • Green houses: I didn't know there were so many of these in my neighborhood

  • Trees: I saw apple, cherry, pecan, peaches, walnut, plums, pears, and more apples

  • Berries: blackberries, raspberries, strawberries (done for the season), huckleberries, grapes

  • Fish: there were three streams that I didn't even know ran through my neighborhood, I'm guessing there are at least salmon in these streams

  • Ocean fish/shellfish: since I live by the straits, we have easy access to salmon, crab, mussels, oysters, squid, etc.

  • Small furry things: rabbits (I didn't see any but I know they are around), squirrels (saw quite a few of these), possum (squished in the road), rats (this would be a last resort)

  • Big furry things: plenty of cows, horses, goats, pigs, deer, bear (didn't see any bear but I know they are there)

  • Wild edibles: lots of cattails, mushrooms (I didn't see any but I know lots of people forage for chanterelles around here), nettles, skunk cabbage

These are just the things I could identify. I'm sure that the trained, educated eye could identify many more sources of food.


  1. If you look up, you will see plenty of pigeons and doves....

    They are edible!!!!

    R M.

  2. Great advise,

    It might be a good idea to shift your route every week or so to take in more of the terrain.

  3. If you live near the ocean your ability to find enough food is enhanced considerably. Elsewhere, swampy areas and field/forest boundaries are often very prolific in terms of plant and animal species.

  4. A friend pointed out that I forgot to add grouse, wild pheasant, and elk. Of course pigeons are a delicacy in China and speaking of China, there isn't much that swims, walks crawls, or flies that they don't eat (bats, snakes, worms, etc).

  5. Could you the name of a good book that discusses foraging?

  6. In my library, I have "Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West" because, well, I live in the west. You will want to look for books on foraging that pertain to your area as each part of the country has different plants. You will also want the book to have lots of color pictures for easy identification. Check out your libary or nearest big bookstore for books on foraging so that you can read a bit and see if it will meet your needs. If you run into an edible plant (usually mushrooms) that is very similar to a poisonous plant, take it to a local expert (usually found at a college or university) who can identify it before you eat it. Check out local resources for foraging classes such as universities, county extension offices, city/county parks departments, etc. Good luck!