Between the recent storms and the coronavirus outbreak, many of us have been more aware about food recently – more specifically, how to ensure you have sufficient food in the event of a severe food shortage caused by situations beyond our control.
Well, we’ve been looking into what’s out there in internet-land and have found some persistent survival advice snippets which are actually completely wrong. So, hot on the heels of our recent article about survival myths around animals, we have now turned our attention to explaining and debunking some myths around finding food.
Busted: You must find a food source immediately
Actually, we can live for a surprisingly long time without food. Assuming you are not seriously injured, you are far more likely to die from dehydration or from dangers in the surrounding environment than from starvation. If you find yourself in a survival situation, then getting or staying dry, maintaining a comfortable body temperature, making shelter and finding a usable water source are your initial absolute priorities, not searching out snacks.
Remember the guidance called the survival rule of three’s: you can survive for a maximum of 3 minutes without breathable air, 3 hours exposed to a harsh environment without protection or shelter, 3 days without water and around 3 weeks without food, by which point most people will have been rescued. Of course, not eating will eventually result in a serious lack of energy, so as soon as you have all of your first priorities dealt with and you are safe, warm and hydrated, then it’s time to go hunting and scavenging for some food.
Busted: You can eat any plants that you see animals eating
Unfortunately not. Many animals can safely eat parts of wild plants that are either poisonous to humans or completely indigestible. For example; squirrels happily chew on raw acorns and some wild mushrooms which would be toxic to humans. Berries from plants like honeysuckle, ivy and mistletoe are poisonous for us to ingest, yet provide much-needed winter calories for many small birds. And we see plenty of grazing animals who live by consuming grass, which wouldn’t immediately kill us but would provide us with no nutritional benefits whatsoever. The same applies in reverse: we happily eat foods like garlic, onions, grapes and cocoa beans (chocolate), yet they can be very toxic to other animals such as dogs. The only way to know what plants are safe for humans to eat is to do your research and only eat what you are certain you can identify correctly.
Busted: You can eat raw meat, fish and seafood
Survival TV programmes love to show the host out in the wilderness chomping on live animals and raw meat which is sometimes questionably ‘fresh’. After all, it makes good telly viewing for those people who like to cringe on their sofas while eating a far more palatable, cooked dish. A good thing, really. The reality is that there could be any number of bacteria, parasites or viruses within raw meat that could either make you severely ill or as dead as the creature you ate. The longer it has been dead, the more time all those dangerous microscopic hitchhikers have had to multiply and produce additional toxins. If you are serious about surviving and have the means to make a fire, then always play it safe; take the freshest meat or fish you can find and cook it thoroughly first.