Monday, February 28, 2011

Food: 10 Sources of (Free) Urban Protein

When it gets to the point that food costs so much you get to decide between eating and putting gas in your car or when it gets to the point that food gets so scarce that you will literally eat anything, look towards these free sources of urban protein:

Note: animals that are found in an urban/suburban environment are usually highly polluted, however when it comes to the risk of imminent death by starvation as opposed to death at some future point in time due to ingesting toxins, I would probably pick the former.
  1. Stuff found in water. Nearly every lake, stream, and river you come across has some type of fish living in it. If you live by the ocean, you automatically expand your options to include seafood and shellfish. Don't forget about frogs, crayfish, and other water-born creatures.

  2. Small crunchy things. In most countries, the people don't have the option of having a slab of cow or pig gracing their dinner plate every night. In fact, in many poorer countries where animals are scarce or expensive, much of the population gets by with eating much smaller sources of protein such as grasshoppers, ants, larvae, beetles, grubs, and the like.

  3. Things that fly. Today as I was taking my morning walk, a huge flock of ducks flew loudly overhead. My first thought was YUM. If you don't get lucky enough to find a flock of ducks or geese, you may run across the odd pheasant or grouse in suburban areas. You can also eat starlings, crow, pigeon, and nearly any other kind of bird that you see flying around your neighborhood.

  4. Things that go bump in the night and other varmints. You know all that road kill you see on the roads the next morning after a busy Saturday night? Most all of those animals are edible. Possum, raccoon, nutria, squirrel, groundhogs, armadillo, rabbit, and other small creatures can be made into a tasty dinner.

  5. Bigger animals. Of course in any survival situation, I would be more than happy to run across a deer, elk, or moose but don't forget that you can also eat cougar, bear, coyote, mountain goat, and other large wild animals.

  6. Things that slither. Snakes, especially rattlesnake, varieties of worms, eel, and other slithery things can be an excellent source of protein.

  7. Farm animals. When people think of meat, they automatically think of farm animals such as goats, cows, sheep, chickens, and pigs. Horses too if they are hungry enough. These all make lovely eating of course, but the problem--if you don't own said animals--will be the farmer on the other end of the shotgun guarding his flock.

  8. Man's best friend(s). While Fido may be your best friend today, if worse comes to worse and you are just this side of starvation, both Fido and Kitty will start to look pretty tasty. Dog meat is eaten in many parts of the world. Rabbits, which are often kept for pets, will make a pretty good dinner as well.

  9. Depending on where you live, you may find: iguana/large lizards (I've been told they taste great with scrambled eggs), monkeys (a delicacy in many countries), elephants, and assorted sea life (shark/whale/sea lion/dolphins/sea turtles).

  10. Vegetarian stuff. While I more or less require a hunk of meat every now and then to keep me happy and well fed, plenty of vegetarians get their protein via a combination of vegetable sources. You may or may not be able to forage for these sources of vegetable protein after TSHTF.

And some reminders:

  • If you open up an animal and it's internal organs look like something harvested from a field near Chernobyl, don't eat it.

  • If you don't know which animals are edible and which aren't, ask a knowledgeable friend or Google first--some creatures (and some parts of certain creatures) can be poisonous.

  • The most clean source of protein is an animal that does not eat other animals for food (ie: cows=good, cheetah=not so good).

  • If you really want to see a range of food sources, travel to China. A friend of mine from China pointed out that if an animal walks, flies, swims, or crawls, the Chinese will probably eat it...and they make it taste pretty good to boot.

  • Remember that you can eat more parts of an animal than just it's flesh. Brains, hearts, livers, and kidneys are often eaten. Chicken feet, pig ears, duck tongue, cow tongue, pig's feet....basically most parts of the animal are useful for food, it just depends on how you cook it.

  • Learn how to hunt before the skill becomes a necessity. Yes, in an emergency you can fire like a maniac at an animal but there is a difference between a clean kill and a gut shot and I still haven't got over memories of picking shot out of my fowl from years ago.


  1. that is why it is good to stock up on spices

    especially when roasting vegetarians


  2. Squirrels.

    I had a friend who had moved to Baltimore from the country. I don't recall the circumstances, but he would go out hunting squirrels, I believe he would use a sack and a sap. Hit one side of the tree with sack, when you hear squirrel circle around away from it, hit it with sap. But squirrel in sack.

    He said that country squirrels were too cagey and it would not work on.

    It worked well for him until a policeman figured out what he was up to, and asked him politely to stop. Which he did.

  3. Watch those armadillo... they've been know to carry leprosy.