Everything You Need To Know About Foraging For Food In The Wild

Foraging For Food In The Wild

If you’ve ever watched the History Channel’s tv show Alone, then you are familiar with the survivalists who go on the show to compete by staying out in the wilderness as long as they can without outside help.

These survivalists have compiled a list of the do’s and don’t for surviving out there when you only have yourself to rely on. While there are many plants and animals to eat, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Choosing the right food could mean your life or death.

Always Know What You’re Eating

Never eat a vegetation if you are not positive what it is. Keep a book with you to easily identify plants.

Creepy Crawlers: Bug Versus Insect

You can eat insects, but not bugs. What’s the difference you ask? Bugs are spiders, centipedes, millipedes, and ticks. They have 8 or more legs. Insects, on the other hand have 6 legs and one antenna, and made up of an exoskeleton with a three part body.

Insects include crickets, ants, and termites, and they are usually crunchy when you eat them.

Do not eat anything that is …

Has A stinger
Is bright colored

*Such as Bees, wasps, hornets. While you can eat a scorpion, make sure to cut off the poisonous tail before roasting.

Survivalist Alan Kay, who appeared on season 1 of Alone lost 60 pounds in the 56 days he survived in Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He said, “Crickets have a nutty flavor when you roast them. And some ants have a lemony flavor. Usually for survival I lean on crickets and grasshoppers, things like that. Termites, ants, slugs, snails, earthworms, because it can be hard to actually capture an animal or catch a fish, but it’s pretty easy to find insects. Just turn over a rock or a log and see what’s living under there.”

Bright Colors Equal Poison

Not only can brightly colored insects kill you, this goes for fish, amphibians, and plants. The bright color is telling you not to eat it. Most times there will be bright red on it. Case in point is the poisonous dart frog. Do not eat this creature, ever.


  • Be sure to positively identify any plant before eating.
  • Buy a book and keep it with you.
  • Some plants species look the same, with one being poisonous and the other safe, such as the Yarrow flowering plant which is medicinal but looks like the Water Hemlock which is extremely toxic.
  • Always talk to the indigenous people about what they eat. They will tell you straight up what is safe and what is not, and where to find them.

Worms And Mollusks

When in the wild you may have no choice but to dine on worms, snails, slugs and other slimy creatures. Insects actually have a lot more flavorful and have a better texture, than worms and mollusks.

Alan Dines, from season 1 of Alone said, “People think banana slugs are strange to eat because they are so slimy, but I would just stick a stick through them and hold them over my fire until all of the slime fell off, and then they were delicious, as long as you take the guts out. Just make sure you cook any slugs you eat to kill off those parasites.”

Snakes And Birds

Snakes can be very chewy to eat and some do not like the texture, while others find them delicious. Before eating a snake, make sure it is not venomous, and cook it first.

As for birds, pluck off the feathers, and any bird is good to eat. Crows, pigeons, seagulls, are all safe to eat, but catching them can be hard.

The Ocean

At low tide you can find clams, crabs, eels, oysters, and small fish. Sounds like a combo plate at your favorite seafood restaurant, right? Just add some fries, please.

Survivalist Alan Kay ate many marine snails known as limpets. “At low tide there’s going to be something for you. There’s a nice bit of meat in there and it doesn’t have to be cooked, you just scrape ’em out with your finger and eat ’em.”

Survivalist Nicole Apelian, from season 2 of Alone said, “You can even eat isopods, crustaceans that live in the sea and in fresh water. They look like cockroaches, and there we’re a bunch at my site. They are totally edible, so I was eating those, but I got to say those were a little hard to look at in my pot of food, and they have a certain crunch because it’s mostly exoskeleton.”


The survivalists say that vitamins are important out there in the wild.

Sources include …

  • Boiled spruce needles, licorice roots, and lichen tea
  • Boiled rose hips for vitamin C
  • White fish for vitamin B
  • Insects and crabs for calcium

Always Cook Your Food

It is important for your survival to cook your food. The heat kills parasites in any animals that you kill. It also takes less energy to digest cooked food, and in the wild you want to conserve as much energy as you can. Skewering meat and roasting it over a fire is one great way to get a good meal, as is frying food on a hot rock that is surrounded by hot coals. Boiling is always the quickest way to cook something, and you can drink the water after for some added nutrition. Make sure to have a metal pan for boiling.


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