Finding food if lost in the wild.

A young lady stranded in the wild.

It not surprising that you may find yourself stranded in a wilderness far from food stores.

A number of things can happen to you that can put you in a situation where your survival depends upon your ability to find food.

Experiencing car break down in desolate places, airplanes crash or force down, unexpected floods or heavy snow, getting lost while hiking, surviving a ship sink and sometimes having to wait for rescue on an unpopulated island and so on.

So the question you should ask yourself, are you so accustomed to convenient foods that you would starve if stranded in the wilderness?

Overcoming the limitation of your diet

A family displaying a wide variety of foods they are accustomed to.

In our modern civilization the problem of getting food from day to day is not as great as it is for people living in primitive conditions.

Instead of spending the greater part of everyday roaming about the wilderness looking for something to eat, you spend it at some form of employment that may have no connection with food production.

With the money you earn you can go to a nearby food market and buy what you need.

Furthermore, chances are that the foods you eat from day today are rather limited in variety.

You probably eat the same few basic things and seek variety by preparing them in different ways, seldom if ever trying an entire new food.

This limitation of your diet may cripple your imagination when you must find something to eat in the wild country.

You could very well starve to death with food all around you, because you looked only for things that are customarily eaten in your community.

Insects can save your life

Your survival in a wilderness requires you realize that there are foods there that can keep you alive, although they may be very foreign to your customary diet.

If they can provide nourishing sustenance for people of other lands, they can do the same for you. Insects are a high quality protein food and protein is what hungry people need.

Here are some examples:


Locusts eating vegetation.

In countries of the North Africa and Near East where migratory grasshoppers, known as locusts, abound, this troublesome insect is regarded as a tasty tidbit.

The people of a village in southern Tunisia dried and sacked three thousand tons of them during one locust invasion.

By grinding and salting dried locusts these locusts became a food reserve that lasted for months. Whether dried, fried or roasted, locusts are very nourishing, minus their wings and legs, of course.


Ants walking on a wild flower.

A common insect you most likely overlook in a search for food is eaten by people in various parts of the world, especially in topical Africa.

This is lowly termite or white ant. It is among the richest of all foods in terms of calories. Analysts have found that there were 561 calories for every 100 grams of this insect.

Ordinary ants are fried and canned by Japanese, who export them to gourmets through the world. 

Although you may have no intention of becoming a gourmet, ant can help you stay alive in the wilderness.

When digging up a nest of ants do not ignore the pupae, larvae and eggs. These too are nourishing.


Bees sucking nectar from a wild flower.

If there are bees where you are stranded, you have another source of food.

Besides the delicious honey that hard working bees manufacture, the bees themselves are highly nutritious, especially baby bees.

When prepared for food they resemble breakfast cereal and are reported to have a pleasant, distinctive flavor.

Baby bees contain ten times as much vitamin D as cod liver oil. Like ants, bee larvae and pupae are also nutritious.

The larva contains 4 percent fat and 16 percent protein. Both contain twice as much vitamin A as egg yolk. The pupa of the silkworm is also nourishing food.

Silkworm pupae 

Roasted silkworms ready to be sold.

Laboratory studies have shown that silkworm pupae as well as white grubs are satisfactory source of needed protein.

Some volunteers who have tasted white grubs have said that the stew was quite appetizing.

If the Australian aborigine can include worms in his diet without bad results, you can too if your life is at stake.

You may have to adjust your thinking, but that is better than starving to death.


A young lady eating a grub worm.

In the forest there are many rotten logs where plump wood grubs can be found.

These can be cooked into a stew, using a basin hollowed out of a log. Hot stones dropped into the basin can do the cooking.

Because of valuable protein that grubs provide, starving prisoners in a brutal concentration camp have been kept alive by eating worms that may be in the food served by them.


The long fat shipworm that burrows into submerged timbers in the tropical waters is relished by some people.

It is not really a worm, although it resembles one. Its relationship is to the oyster and the calm.

Some natives in Thailand plant pieces of soft wood at the mouths of streams so shipworms, or teredos as they are sometimes called, can bore into them.

After a time, they raise the wood and eat the fully grown teredos. If you should be stranded in the tropical regions where teredos live, you have another source of food.

Animals and birds

A man who has succeed in hunting and killing a deer.

Wherever you may be stranded there are usually many small creatures that can be hunted. Almost all small animals and birds are edible.

 In fact, any fur-bearing animal, including monkeys, can be used for food. Your problem, however will be to catch them.

The best time for this is usually at dusk or early morning. Well-placed snares can catch rabbits, squirrels, ground squirrels, beaver, muskrat, and so forth.

All can be eaten if there are no signs of disease on them. Birds can be snared during the day or caught after dark while they are roosting.

Do not overlook their eggs, as these too make good emergency food.

If you enjoy eating eels, you should have no difficult in drowning a meal of snake flesh. Snakes are edible, whether of the poisonous variety or not.

But be careful of the poisonous fang when you remove a snakes head. Also be alert for frogs. Their tasty legs can be added to your menu as well as the hindquarter of lizards.

The bleeding, skinning and cleaning of small creatures should be done at once, being careful not to puncture the bladder or intestines, as that will spoil the meat.

Thoroughly cook the meat, especially if you suspect the presence of trichinosis. The best way to do this is to cut into small pieces before you cook.

In the event you succeed snaring a large animal such as a deer, you should bleed and skin it promptly. Excess meat can be preserved for future meals by smoking it.

This can be done by erecting a tepee of saplings covered with bough if no cloth is available.

After hanging strips of meat in it build a smudge fire of green wood allowing the meat to smoke for several hours. It will then keep for a week or more.


A man displaying a fish he has caught from a nearby river.

Possibly fish will be one of the first food you will seek if you are stranded near water.

Fishhooks can be made from almost anything that will hold its shape under pressure and can be sharpened. Even small bone can be used after being carved in the right shape.

Nets can be fashioned from a handkerchief, a shirt, or even a pair of trousers by tying the legs or hands.

These make shift nets can be used to catch minnows in a pond after you have scuffed up mud in the bottom so they cannot see you approach them. The same method can be used for catching larger fish.

Salt water fish can be eaten raw, if necessary, but avoid eating raw fresh-water fish, as they may contain tapeworms.

We might also mention that blue or black mussel should not be eaten, as it may contain a poison that is as deadly as strychnine.


Black and red raspberries in the wild.

If you are stranded you cannot expect to find the same fruits, grains and vegetables you customarily eat, but there are many substitute to be found in wild plant life.

The big question is what can be eaten?

The answer can be found by watching what birds and animal eat.

Usually what they eat you can eat. Where there are ferns, these too can serve as food.

None are poisonous. The fiddle heads at the top of the ferns are nourishing substitute for asparagus or cabbage.

You may find the hairs a little bitter, but these can be removed by rubbing the fern under water.

Do not pass by algae that grow on the top of ponds. Although this plant appears rather unappetizing, it is very nutritious.

It is estimated that a tablespoon of algae equals the nutritional value of ounce of steak.

While its taste may be a little unpleasant to you, it can be improved by an exposure to an overdose of light. This tends to bleach it somewhat and make it more palatable.

You may see mushrooms, but it is usually safer to pass them by. They have little food value and some varieties are poisonous.

As a general rule, in the North Temperate Zone the flowers of practically all plants are edible.

You might be interested to know that the flower and the entire plants above ground of nasturtiums are excellent for food.

Attractive salads can be made by decorating them with colorful nasturtium blooms.

If you see cattails, add them to your menu. The soft core of the stalk, the young shoots and the root stalks can be boiled or eaten raw.

The same can be said of water lilies. The root stalks can be eaten, raw or boiled. The tender stems can be chopped into stew. Although the seedpods are a little bitter, they can be dried and made into flour.

Where there are trees, you can find food on their nuts as well as their barks. The inner bark of such trees aspen, spruce, willow and birch can be eaten.

It has been found that the inner bark of the pine tree is especially rich in vitamin C. After scrapping away the coarse outer bark the soft inner bark can be eaten raw, dried or cooked.

Thin, green outer bark and white inner one is the best to eat.

Finding water

A small stream flowing in the wilderness.

In almost any wilderness food is abundant if you know how to find it, but there is another physical necessity that is vital for you survival and that is water.

Finding it may require you to dig in the gravel bottom of a dry stream or the sandy seashore.

When there is a low forested area along the seashore, fresh water will often rise in a scooped-out hole in the sand if the sea is at low tide. Rain water caught in rocks or stumps is also usable.

The growing tips of plants, leaves and roots contain considerable water as well as the roots of trees in hollows between ridges.

The barrel cactus is famous for its ability to store water. So water can be found if you know where to look.


Supplying yourself in a wilderness with food, water, shelter and utensils is a task that can require your full time.

To exist there is not easy. It is far different from the city where the necessities of life can be obtained from stores with little effort.

Your survival in the wilderness will depend upon your ability to use your ingenuity and willingness to use the food which can be found in the wild.