This is my second essay. It was supposed to be like a magazine article. I was one of a group of 5. I am the only one that turned it in complete with pictures. The 5 of us were supposed to use our “articles” to make up a magazine. One student wrote about hunting and trapping small game, such as rabbit, another student was supposed to write about preserving and canning foraged and hunted foods, another wrote about fishing, and yet another wrote about starting a guerrilla garden. So, I wrote this article, a sidebar of recipes for post-apocalyptic cooking, and a sidebar of zombie survival tips. I guess I’ll post those in a bit. I was so proud of my work, but the rest of the group wouldn’t return my emails so that we could put it all back together. I made a cover page and everything. I’m whining, but writing is what I enjoy and am most proud of. Maybe it’s because I’m older with kids the same age as my classmates? Anyway…I had to turn in the magazine cover, my article, and my sidebars alone. It could have been a great group project. Next time, I am taking charge and they can kiss my ass.
How to Forage for Edible Plants
Compocalypse survivors need to know how to forage for edible plants because the ready food supply will be almost non-existent. We will need to know how to find our food in nature when grocery stores and markets have been looted by a desperate public. After picking abandoned homes clean of anything resembling food, we will have to turn to Mother Nature to provide for us. If we go back just a generation or two, we would see that in Kentucky, foraging was a common skill. This knowledge is dying right along with our elders. I would like to pass on to you, my fellow Dead Headers, some knowledge that I have learned from my grandmother and others over the years, as well as some tidbits that are new for me, too.
We will need the following materials: a hand cultivator (three-pronged gardening tool), garden spade shovel, collection bag to carry edibles while keeping the hands free, a machete for cutting plants as well as protection from zombies, and a pair of thick leather gloves. This will basically be a three step process once you have found your hunting grounds. You will be working your way from top to bottom. Start with scanning the tree tops and work your way down to the forest floor. Before you begin, remember you will have to not only scan the forest for any edible plants, but also remain vigilant in case of zombie attack.
The first thing you will need to do is pick a good foraging spot. Make sure the area you are foraging is dense with vegetation, but has adequate animal trails so you can run if needed. Some wooded areas are thick with poison ivy and sumac, briar bushes, and other thorny plants so wear thick clothing and boots to protect your skin from cuts and scratches. Insure you have an escape plan in case of zombie attack by scouting out possible exit trails or climbable trees.
Next you want to scan high above ground. Begin by visually scanning the branches of trees for ones that may be nut or fruit bearing. If you are really lucky, you could find a deserted apple or peach orchard like my neighbors have. If not, don’t despair, Kentucky has many wild crab apple and black walnut trees. Tim MacWelch, in his online article for Outdoor Life Magazine Survival Skills: 10 Most Nutritious Fall Wild Edible Plants says that, “They (black walnuts) are high in fat, with a fair bit of protein, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese.” I’m not sure what manganese is, but it sounds like something your body needs. Simply pluck the nuts or fruit and pop them right into your collection bag. While climbing trees, be mindful of hand and foot placement to avoid falling. Placing the collection bag across your shoulders will keep your hands free for collecting, climbing, and self-defense. If zombies approach and trap you in a tree, use your machete to hack into the top of the zombies’ skulls to eliminate them.
Once the trees have been exhausted of their fruit and nuts, start scanning the area for berry bushes, such as blackberries, which are quite abundant in Hardin County.
Picking Blackberries (Rubus)in September, selective focus close-up
Also look out for rose hips, which are extremely nutritious and just a little bit give you “close to your daily allowance of vitamin C” along with many other nutrients (MacWelch Skills).
Poke berries, also plentiful in the region, have edible leaves or greens which are easy to tear right off and stuff into your bag. However, my grandmother always told me not to eat the deep purple poke berries. I wasn’t sure whether it was because they are poisonous or if she just didn’t want me to stain my clothes. In another of Tim MacWelch’s articles for Outdoor Life online entitled Survival Foods: Don’t Eat These Plants or Animals, Ever, he informs us that, “Poke berries, nightshade and Virginia creeper are just a few of my local species that have claimed the lives of the unaware.” It’s a good thing that I listened to my grandmother. Don’t forget that many berry bushes have briars and thorns so be sure to wear thick leather gloves when picking them.
While searching at eye-level, zombies could crawl and attack from below. Wear tall boots to protect from possible zombie or snake bites. If you suddenly smell cucumbers in the woods, there is likely a copperhead snake nearby, so tread carefully.
The last step in the foraging process is to search at ground level. When possible, look up from the foot of a hill to better spot root-bearing plants like ginseng and sassafras.
Wild strawberries are usually easy to locate when they are red and ripened. You know those yellow dandelions that pop up every time you mow your yard? They are everywhere and, believe it or not, they are edible. I have had deep fried dandelions and they are delicious, though you should soak them in salt-water for an hour or so before breading with flour and frying. However, you should not even try eating any kind of wild mushroom, “unless you have years of experience”, according to Bill Heavey in his online article Wild Wine Berries Are in Season for Field and Stream Magazine. It is probably best to just leave mushrooms alone and look, instead for edible roots. Use the hand cultivator to dig out roots by forcing the prongs into the earth to loosen it, then you can pull the roots free. For deeper roots, you may have to use the gardening spade shovel to remove the roots from the ground. While on the ground, watch out for red-velvet ants, also known as cow-killers, which are actually a variety of male wasp that is flightless, but sting like a cigarette burn.
These painful insects are common in Elizabethtown and the surrounding countryside so be sure to crouch on hands and feet, wearing leather gloves and boots. Of course, a zombie could always attack from above or behind, so it would be smart to bring a buddy to watch your back.
If we just look around us, we will see nature’s bounty all around. With a little experimentation and bravery we can get back to eating what our ancestors consumed for hundreds of years. Be sure to save all the seeds from any fruits and berries you collect so you can start your own guerilla garden. Foods grown in the wild are just bursting with flavor, more so than what we find in the Kroger produce department. Why wait for a zombie apocalypse? There is a veritable smorgasbord of yummie goodness everywhere; it’s ours for the taking. What are you waiting for? Get out there and forage!
By Angela H.
AN: So, I am still taking suggestions for a new penname…It’s been so long since I’ve been on here or written any fanfics, so I’m out of the loop now, but I do appreciate any recs.
Anyhoo, what did you think of my essay?