Urban Foraging

B Griffin

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I don't recommend it, but it's one of the more um, interesting plants that grow in urban spaces.

I agree. That's one of the reasons I have written multiple illustrated articles and helped develop a coalition of parents here in my local area, to put pressure on our local politicians to illustrate their responsibilities and push them into doing more about controlling the unchecked growth of toxic plants like Datura and Hemlock in our public parks here. Which these two can be both very attractive and very deadly to small children.
 

milesofalaska

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Questionable. I smile, "suicidal, homicidal, desperate and foolish." Did you know that many foragers say exactly the same thing about civilized solutions? Thus I smile. So think about the word 'risk.' If you buy medicine or foods you have to trust the process of how it got in the jar and into the store and into your hands. Some people- I included am not that trusting. Thus I'd rather see what I can do on my own and if I do make a mistake I have no one to blame but me. I'm not mad at anyone. I alter my behavior and try to do it right next time. Few food mistakes will kill you... or can, but is it more then proceed food issues? I feel I am in charge much more if I am in control and can change the situation easier. If I am unhappy with what is for sale I feel I have few options to have successful recourse. I'm not about to change how it's done. With 'wild solutions,' I do have the option of consulting with people I trust. "What is this plant and how do I prepare it?"
 

B Griffin

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Questionable. I smile, "suicidal, homicidal, desperate and foolish." Did you know that many foragers say exactly the same thing about civilized solutions? Thus I smile. So think about the word 'risk.' If you buy medicine or foods you have to trust the process of how it got in the jar and into the store and into your hands. Some people- I included am not that trusting. Thus I'd rather see what I can do on my own and if I do make a mistake I have no one to blame but me. I'm not mad at anyone. I alter my behavior and try to do it right next time. Few food mistakes will kill you... or can, but is it more then proceed food issues? I feel I am in charge much more if I am in control and can change the situation easier. If I am unhappy with what is for sale I feel I have few options to have successful recourse. I'm not about to change how it's done. With 'wild solutions,' I do have the option of consulting with people I trust. "What is this plant and how do I prepare it?"

Point taken, and I like foraging as well.

But some people have just as much conviction that the earth is flat, and I like my diet just fine without the addition of tropane alkaloids :D
 

22-rimfire

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On foraging for edible plants in general, I like to have the knowledge, but I am not one to use it until I have to. This is why I keep books available. I do like to recognize what plants are and I still have a lot to learn. Also the knowledge gets blurred over time if you don't keep refreshing it. I notice that with wild flowers.... I forget the common name but recognize the plant. I like to observe what wild flower or flowering plants look like when they are not in bloom. I cruise the woods looking for certain plants to essentially develop a "where to find it" mental library when they are in bloom and I'm more interested. I really need to get a hand held gps and log the coordinates. In the old days I posted notations on maps, but you don't always have maps available.
 

B Griffin

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On foraging for edible plants in general, I like to have the knowledge, but I am not one to use it until I have to. This is why I keep books available. I do like to recognize what plants are and I still have a lot to learn. Also the knowledge gets blurred over time if you don't keep refreshing it. I notice that with wild flowers.... I forget the common name but recognize the plant. I like to observe what wild flower or flowering plants look like when they are not in bloom. I cruise the woods looking for certain plants to essentially develop a "where to find it" mental library when they are in bloom and I'm more interested. I really need to get a hand held gps and log the coordinates. In the old days I posted notations on maps, but you don't always have maps available.

I'm the same way on some of them. although I do regularly eat wild berries like blackberries, mulberries, muscadines, and the wild currants that grow here, as well as picking dandelion greens, wild garlic, and wild onions and using in my salads and cooking.

I have been working on a database of images and info on wild plants longer than I have been a member of Blade Forums, the goal is to have images of the plants from the time they are popping out of the ground through the growing season and into the decaying period so I can learn to recognize their favorite areas and maybe be able to recognize them and where they will be again when the growing season comes back around if i find myself in a new area in autumn or winter.
 

milesofalaska

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I'm surprised this thread has not got more activity due to COVID. Civilization everywhere is under stress. It's a good idea to limit our face to face encounters in crowds like large stores. Supplies are limited in many areas, maybe due to transportation issues, but also production issues. Prices are going up on many necessities. The future of prices and supply is unpredictable, but possibly we are affected for a long time facing harder times. This gives good reason for having some knowledge, keep in mind, going out and gathering our needs off the land. Many items are not crossing borders now and may not for a long time. Knowing what grows in the woods as a food source helps the budget for those who have lost jobs. Those in trouble over home payments might consider downsizing and heading further out where homes and property cost much less and head for areas with no taxes. Such areas are great for foragers, subsistence lifestyles. I'd be interested in hearing from different parts of the country and how life is going—ideas for successful changes.

I'm a snowbird. Have a remote home and life in interior Alaska, then have a home near Tucson, more civilized. The remote home and area are great for survival. I can hunt fish grow garden depend on myself much more than depending on 'the grid.' However. Groceries in the store are 4 times the price as Tucson, so is gas. Many items are not for sale anyplace. Internet was down for a month. All business closed in my small community. Power outages common. Thus could I depend on my freezer full of food? Laws are strict and enforced concerning 'living off the land.' In the short term, Tucson looks fine. Speculating if 'things' get worse, if there are electric grid issues, water distribution sewer issues, job problems lack of police protection, etc., then the wild of Alaska looks good again. As a custom knife maker, I of,course see a continuing need to have a good blade to perform many tasks as a forager liver-off-the-land.
 
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anyone who'd sic a dog on me, over a handful of berries, is going to have a dead dog and if he gives me any crap, he'll have a personal problem, too. Dogs kill people every year. They badly maul 100's of thousands of people every year. Siccing a dog on somebody is the same thing as shooting at them. It's use of deadly force and you have every right to respond with deadly force.
 

hexenjager

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anyone who'd sic a dog on me, over a handful of berries, is going to have a dead dog and if he gives me any crap, he'll have a personal problem, too. Dogs kill people every year. They badly maul 100's of thousands of people every year. Siccing a dog on somebody is the same thing as shooting at them. It's use of deadly force and you have every right to respond with deadly force.

In many places your right to respond with deadly force very much ends once you start trespassing on private property and stealing things from it. The landowner's does not. Just saying.
 
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very few plants offer more than vitamins and minerals and very few of those which do offer some calories are readily available in quantity when needed. So you have to hunt, trap and net fish (a LOT) or starve, or use society's food, which have taken billions of people into their 70's while aboriginies rarely last into their 50's. The foraging to do in the city is from Pell grants and student loans. You can do full time loans for 6 years or half time loans for 12 year and then defer repayment virtually forever. It's basically free month. Selling your blood plasma is 4k per year of free money, too. the pell grants pay your tuition and fees, and the loans, full time, are 12k per year. get it while you still can, and buy gold, fighting gear/ammo/night vision/armor, while you still can. get non-hybrid seeds and long term storage food, of course.
 

herisson

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B Griffin B Griffin I appreciate your point of view, especially as it is backed up by a long life experience. I admit it can really work for a substantial part of the diet but, in my opinion, the problem with urban foraging (applies also to "foraging in easily accessible parts of nature") is, beyond the absolutely needed plant knowledge, the pollution the plants are subjected to. From exhaust gases and acid rains to toxical spills and biologic pollution, like human, dog or fox piss... I'll leave it to that.
 

unwisefool

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very few plants offer more than vitamins and minerals and very few of those which do offer some calories are readily available in quantity when needed. So you have to hunt, trap and net fish (a LOT) or starve, or use society's food, which have taken billions of people into their 70's while aboriginies rarely last into their 50's. The foraging to do in the city is from Pell grants and student loans. You can do full time loans for 6 years or half time loans for 12 year and then defer repayment virtually forever. It's basically free month. Selling your blood plasma is 4k per year of free money, too. the pell grants pay your tuition and fees, and the loans, full time, are 12k per year. get it while you still can, and buy gold, fighting gear/ammo/night vision/armor, while you still can. get non-hybrid seeds and long term storage food, of course.
....what? Are you advocating applying for grants and loans with fraudulent intentions and thereby taking money away from those who actually need it? If you have to sell plasma, I think you have other needs to attend to besides combat gear that you will never use besides dressing up to look cool in the mirror.
 
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Urban foraging for survival would take as long as it takes to find still edible food in a grocery store rubbish bin out back, I've seen videos and pictures of those stuffed to the brim with things still edible but simply out of date. I've never bothered with looking myself but I assume it's the same in most first world urban environments. I have picked wild garlic and onion in parks, found edible mushrooms, apples, etc.
In the third world urban foraging is probably much more difficult.
 

B Griffin

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Everyone has there own view of things based on their own environment from state to state and city to city, and their own views of things, literally, and their own experiences in life. And the age of a city, and where it is on the evolutionary scale of cities will define some elements of it. As a teen living on the streets of Dallas in the 80s I found an old abandoned home place in the middle of a big patch of urban woods that had been developed all around. There was a main house, a couple of out buildings, and a small orchard of apple and pear trees, but the yard was all reclaimed by nature more than 25 years before I found it from the size of the young trees in the "yard"

herisson herisson I get what you're saying, and no I don't harvest from inner city alleyways or the sides of inner city streets. We have thousands of acres of greenway dozens of miles long here, where motorized vehicles are not allowed to travel. Much of it passes through what was once large farms converted to public space. I've picked and eaten a lot of blackberries, mulberries, wild garlic scapes, ground cherries, and could harvest game in a pinch if i were to be that hungry. But as far as urine goes, I'd say their is probably more avian, wild canine, and wild porcine urine and excrement landing on commercially grown crops than some people would want to think about for too long.
 
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milesofalaska

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very few plants offer more than vitamins and minerals and very few of those which do offer some calories are readily available in quantity when needed. So you have to hunt, trap and net fish (a LOT) or starve, or use society's food, which have taken billions of people into their 70's while aboriginies rarely last into their 50's. The foraging to do in the city is from Pell grants and student loans. You can do full time loans for 6 years or half time loans for 12 year and then defer repayment virtually forever. It's basically free month. Selling your blood plasma is 4k per year of free money, too. the pell grants pay your tuition and fees, and the loans, full time, are 12k per year. get it while you still can, and buy gold, fighting gear/ammo/night vision/armor, while you still can. get non-hybrid seeds and long term storage food, of course.
Your view is correct. I add ‘however’ There are some assumptions. Such as, that civilization-society will always be around at it’s present level of ease of availability. Help, free this, free that, cheap this, easy access that. There a couple of aspects to foraging I think needs to be considered. One is simply knowledge. The knowledge may not be simple or easy and takes practice but some level of knowing where stuff comes form and how to get it at the source can help in a potential survival situation, even if temporary. Power has gone out across the country and could happen for weeks. In a few countries power went out and a year later is not back on yet.

There can be issues with quality of food offered to the masses. I find it good to understand better what it is I am ingesting if I grow hunt or forage. Correct, many even most plants offer more vitamins then anything. Nothing wrong with that, we need vitamins and minerals. Fish meat if we hunt we need lots? Well the body has specific needs no matter where these needs are met if store bought or out of the wild. Where I am in Alaska my one moose is maybe 1,500 pounds of meat. Salmon run the river and it is not hard to get 100 in a week. I used to feed sled dogs and catch 2,000 in 2 weeks. Hard is a relative term. How hard does a civilized person have to work to earn enough to buy 1,500 pounds of organic meat or 1,000 pounds of salmon?


Some people enjoy foraging. Consider it relaxing, not stressful, out in a garden a reason to be out in the woods. This may not appeal to some! I think of this as a lifestyle choice . We work and earn money and use the money to pay someone else to take care of our basic needs. Or we have time, not as much money, and we pick up the skills to take care of our own needs. Be it plumbing , food gathering, defending ourselves, etc. There are pros and cons to each choice. I feel nothing wrong with being adaptable, able to move from one world to the other as life may require. I for example depended on the wild and self suffiency for years! Had a lifetime of everything zi need out on the homestead. A forest fire took it all out, and it was civilization that saved my bacon! Luckily I have enough knowledge to move into a village, plug into the internet set up a store do some shows, sell stuff depend more on money and civilized ways. I can still go pick wild mushrooms, blueberries, rosehips for my own tea get fish moose etc. But my point would be, you assume all will remain as it is, and the great civilized life is forever.
 
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... But my point would be, you assume all will remain as it is, and the great civilized life is forever...

Milesofalaska, loved your whole post.

I live in a 100% urban environment but I have a shop (shared with a few more friends) in a rural area about 30 minutes drive from here. We rented the place (old chicken farm). I get along very well with the owner and sometimes asks for a few things done here and there (mostly metalworking stuff, welding implements or mechanics in the tractors). I never charge anything but he is always quick to offer compensation in the form of groceries, sausage, etc... Also, when my daughter joins me during shop days (she is 7) she enjoys the area a lot. As soon as he arrives he goes looking for the owner and asks him permission to go gather some oranges, tomatoes, carrots, whatever... the joy is getting something out of a tree/plant and eating it.

All this makes me think that if something was to happen... the only way we could be self sufficient is being in a rural area and adopt trading goods as THE only way to move forward. I, for instance, know nothing about hunting, but I do spearfishing (freediving) and I a pretty proficient at doing so. That would be my most feasible contribution to the system. I don't think I would have any problem putting food on the table daily. But I cannot spear potatoes!

The problem in heavily populated areas is that we 100% rely on resources that come from far away since we don't have the means to generate them locally.

Mikel
 

milesofalaska

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Milesofalaska, loved your whole post.

I live in a 100% urban environment but I have a shop (shared with a few more friends) in a rural area about 30 minutes drive from here. We rented the place (old chicken farm). I get along very well with the owner and sometimes asks for a few things done here and there (mostly metalworking stuff, welding implements or mechanics in the tractors). I never charge anything but he is always quick to offer compensation in the form of groceries, sausage, etc... Also, when my daughter joins me during shop days (she is 7) she enjoys the area a lot. As soon as he arrives he goes looking for the owner and asks him permission to go gather some oranges, tomatoes, carrots, whatever... the joy is getting something out of a tree/plant and eating it.

All this makes me think that if something was to happen... the only way we could be self sufficient is being in a rural area and adopt trading goods as THE only way to move forward. I, for instance, know nothing about hunting, but I do spearfishing (freediving) and I a pretty proficient at doing so. That would be my most feasible contribution to the system. I don't think I would have any problem putting food on the table daily. But I cannot spear potatoes!

The problem in heavily populated areas is that we 100% rely on resources that come from far away since we don't have the means to generate them locally.

Mikel
Hello Mikel
I think just because someone lives in a city does not have to mean there can be no such think as dependance on the land, only dependance on each other and ‘the system.’ Some weeds grow ‘everywhere’ and have use. Who can live on weeds! You have to add a lot of sources to meet needs. There are ways to live off acorns if you know how to prepare them. Indians once made flour. I saw a special on city folks who grow a small garden in places like—the tops of skyscrapers, the trunks of abandoned vehicles, get permission for community garden in old parking lots or abandoned property say up for back taxes. In my small community for example a church donates land for community garden and in return the city gives the church and garden free water. Food can be grown a lot of places! Hydroponics even. I grow in trays on bookshelves and auto water and lights with timers off small hoses run off my water pipes. It is possible to grow enough to survive with only a few square feet of area. How hard is that to come up with?


I have commented to the wife when passing through hard areas of the city, “These people are not starving to death, look at all the pigeons still on sidewalk!” Before I gave up, I’d be snaffling pigeons! The old song “4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie.” Read ‘pigeons.’ Before I starved or gave up I’d find a recipe for dogs cats and rats bats squirrels rabbits, racoons, possum, any source of protein. Raise them for food if I had to. No, the squeamish may not be among the survivors. Raise or get herbs that make gamey meat taste better. Curry is one of the best. In the poor countries of the world these foods are normal diet and they can be for you if you end up in survival mode. Learn to make jerky can, dehydrate, sell trade this end product.


Something like mushrooms can be grown in a damp dark area about anyplace. An apartment complex furnace room. I can add, I once lived a winter free in an apartment furnace room. Put my own lock on. Everyone figured I was the maintenance man and I smiled and nodded “Indeed.” Get creative. Sell trade the mushrooms for other necessities. Some trees grow edibles, not just ornamental. Before it is an emergency plant trees that feed you. Even in a pot on a doorstep, next to the mailbox. Anyplace. I even once grew vines in the shower stall and the plants loved the mist as I took a shower, like bathing in a waterfalls with greenery all around. Hang vines out the window of an apartment. Cucumbers tomatoes for example.


Once the city dug up some land with a bulldozer and I knew the next phase would take a few weeks to complete. I planted an acre of potatoes. No one knew. No one knew what that plant was growing, looked like weeds. I saw the grader coming one day a few months later, and said I had potatoes here! Driver laughed and waited half an hour- took a lunch break, while I harvested a years worth of potatoes. I gave some to the grader driver in appreciation.


Stuff like electric you can use solar panels in the city for your own use. You can drive a Sandpoint or dig a well for your own water. Best to do it in advance before emergencies just to have. Good water? Depends where you live. Treat it yourself. The city does. Own a woodstove in case there is no oil for the furnace. Locate ahead of time where to get scrap wood like pallets, transfer station junk furniture, the dump. Legal may or may not be important, relevant, depending on the emergency. Stealing from the dump. Eating meat, digging a well without a permit will be a minor issue if people are dying. Important in my view is keep stuff in mind. Some level of preparedness. Own a few rat traps. (that also catch birds). Own a snare or two and know how they work. Own a hand water pump- woodstove get all this while it is cheap at garage sales if you are poor. Have some simple knowledge about dandelions, growing mushrooms. Have some heirloom seeds like tomatoes cucumber squash. It is a way to think. We have options besides “I am totally screwed.” Since this is a subcategory of a knife forum… I make knives and that is very tradable as a survival tool anywhere in any level of life. Let other people grow the mushrooms, dig the well. I trade a blank blades or a finished knife.
 

B Griffin

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Dec 22, 2007
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Growing root vegetables like potatoes, onions, garlic and carrots, tomatoes and peppers too. at home in an urbanized is pretty simple if you have some personal space like a fenced patio or in a room with a sturdy floor and windows that face east and south. You can grow several of them in buckets of dirt. Storing them is more a problem than growing them. I'm about to do a project on this myself this growing season for myself and for material for my website.

The leafy greens take up a lot of space. And luckily dandelion greens are plantain are pretty plentiful wild in this area. As well as black walnut and hickory trees. And I know where several wild crab apple trees grow.
 

stabman

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Sep 17, 2007
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We have enough geese walking around here that one could live off them for years. :thumbsup:
Handy river full of fish too...

I'm surprised our homeless population doesn't eat more of the geese.
I think some in one part of the city did for a while; the geese moved further down the road, and I didn't see them up that way for a time. ;)

The geese returned after the encampment was removed.
 

B Griffin

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Same here. More than once I've wondered at some of the homeless peoples' lack of awareness of local resources. Our local parks are full of rabbits, squirrels, geese, ducks, Mulberry trees, black berries, dandelions, plantain, onions, garlic, black walnut trees, hickory trees, etc. and most are near the river and have creeks running through them.
 
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