Survival preparedness. It seems it is everywhere these days. Maybe I’m just more attuned to it now since I’ve become a “Monkey”. Maybe it is more prevalent. What ever the case may be, it is a good idea to have some idea of what to do in a dire situation. Mostly you hear about storing, canning, what to put in your “bug out bag”, etc. but what if you are stranded? I most certainly would panic a bit. I mean I am the woman who would have frozen for sure in a lovely cabin off of Lake Erie one New Years weekend if it wasn’t for my husband who rescued me (and my brother and his girlfriend at the time).
City folk we were, and hadn’t ever started a fire in a fire pit, let alone a wood burner. So there we were holing matches to one BIG log. Yep. That’s us. City folk. After my husband recovered from-shock? Terror? Humor? (I think it was all three) He started a proper fire in the wood burner and then lectured us for our lack of education on simple survival. It was funny but I started thinking about it in a more serious light when I started reading this book. What would I do if I can not even start a fire? Well, thanks to my husband, I can start a fire now and with the book, Eating on the Run. Survival Foraging for Plant, Grasses, Nuts and Berries by Fred Demara (www.paladin-press.com ) I can better identify what I can eat to survive in dire straits.
Demara points out that what we term “survival eating”, was merely living for the Native Americans in North America. No grocery stores or butchers and some of the natives were nomadic. They did not plant gardens or raise livestock. What they did was survive quite nicely. Demara notes that with an understanding in the skill set he presents in this book, you can as well. Even the trial and error of what will make you sick and what will not has been done by our predecessors; though food sensitivities, allergies and mis-identification will still leave you quite ill.
While this book isn’t about storage, canning, a recipe book or an exhaustive compilation of everything you can eat in the wilderness (Soybeans are edible but weren’t mentioned. Also, farmers probably frown on their fields being picked over by wanderers. I also believe that this would not be foraging as much as it would be pillaging.) it is a good start into actively locating local plants, grasses and such that will sustain you should the need arise. Over 50 wild plants, nuts, berries and grasses are loaded into this book in a simple presentation that doesn’t drone on for pages on end, confusing you more than informing you. In your pack, quick reference material to identify and prepare (if necessary) the items listed is what Demara offers. From cattails to yucca, the items here are intended to be a way for you to sustain yourself when you are far from home and need to refuel yourself for a long (or short) haul.
The organization of the plants and such in this book is clever. The more common a plant is, the earlier they appear in the book. Cattails are leading off the roster, followed by acorns and clover. Very common. Towards the end are cactus and mesquite beans, neither of which are native to Western PA (that I am aware of in any event). But all the flora in the book are native to North America at almost any time of the year. The author also includes some geographically specific foods that are easy growing. They are worth noting and are mentioned in relation to their native location.
All in all this book is a pretty nice addition to your survivalist library for about $15.00. I would mention that all the photos in the book are in black and white, with which I was disappointed. The difference between wild carrot and hemlock is the pink inner center of the flower. Now, I know the difference, but some might like to actually see it. Of course, there is always the internet if you need the extra identification. Demara also suggests that while this book is great for identifying what you can eat, it isn’t exhaustive and that actually working with the local food stuffs is a much better way to remember what you need to than by just reading. He includes basic recipes for the reader to try out in their own kitchen to aid in remembering. So whether you are a pioneer, homesteader, survivalist or just interested in your local edible vegetation, this little book can get you on the road to becoming more savvy about the edible plants that surround you.
“Like” the Monkey on Facebook while you’re at it too!