How to Find Food in the Wild

Learning how to find food in the wild is one of the most essential skills to master if you want to excel as a survivalist. But even if you don’t aspire to become one, you might encounter certain points in your life when you’d find yourself in a survival situation.

The good thing is that the wild is abundant with natural and delicious food, but do not be fooled. Not all the glitter are gold, remember? You must know how to identify edible and poisonous food in the wild. Plus, you should learn how to forage food. But while many food options are there when in the forest, beginners should carefully learn how to do it, or they might end up poisoned or killed.

Video tutorial: How to find wild food

How to Look For Food in the Wild

Food is essential to our physical and emotional state. It is also needed to keep our body’s normal temperature and is loaded with vitamins and minerals that we need for nourishment.

Fish and meat are great protein and fat sources; both are essential for a long-term survival situation. Plants also contain needed carbohydrates.

With the abundance of supply available, one won’t require much energy and effort to find food in the forest. What makes the difference is if the food is edible or not.

Video tutorial: Easy Emergency Wilderness Survival Food

“The key to survival is to identify safe plants, forage for supplies and hunt/fish/trap animals. You should know where to look for survival food when trapped in the wilderness.

Foraging food in the wild

Foraging lets us connect with our primal instincts and experience the natural world. However, do not just start eating nature’s salad bowl, which is all around you when in the wild. It is important to be aware of the guidelines for finding safe and edible plants. The following are the basic steps to follow closely.

  1. Check out places where to find food. Some of these include low bushes, trees, streams and meadows. They are great places to start because of their wide range of food sources available.


  1. When you locate an area for gathering, be able to limit your search. If you choose stand of trees, limit your search near them. A few sources are fruits, nuts and seeds.


  1. Do not limit gathering only from plants, but be prepared for game, too. It is the main item to look for if you are near a meadow or a stream. You will need a hunting stick if you’re hunting for a game. It must be 16 inches long with a diameter of two inches.


You should be able to throw this stick at and stun the game.

For the best results, you may want to kill it immediately before even touching it to prevent it from getting near and injuring you.


  1. You can also hunt for fish using a broken and pointed stick. Stab it in the water.


  1. Do not eat any plant or food you cannot identify. It is your first step to safety. For plants, stick with acorns, needles, nettles, walnuts, squirrels, wild garlic and wild hares are good sources. That said you should beware of poisonous foods. Stay away from white berries, fungi, mushrooms and parsley-like plants.


  1. Cook food correctly especially if eating meat. Boil or roast it.  Do not eat entrails but choose meat from legs, arms and ribs. You can cook fish whole, but be sure to cook underground plants, such as garlic, to ensure they are safe to eat. In addition, add the green edible leave into a soup so that you can kill the bacteria and remove any toxins. Stalks of nettles are edible when cooked.

Cooking is a great wildness survival skill that ensures bacteria and parasites are killed before eating. No one would like to get sick from food poisoning. In the wild, the most common method for cooking is using firewood. That is why you may also want to learn how to build a fire with sticks.

Identifying and finding safe wild edibles

If it is your first time learning how to survive in the wilderness, you’ll be surprised to know the plants you can eat in the wild, which is full of creatures and plants for the naturalist or survivalist. You will always find edible plants, which are available based on the time of the year, except you’re in the midst of the desert.

Look for a good mentor, who has the experience in giving you ideas on which plants are safe for eating. You may also want to use a good book for reference, which can give you confidence and make you feel comfortable to identify plants. This guidebook for plants in the area can help you avoid eating something poisonous later.

 “Do not eat anything you cannot identify.”

You may want to take survival courses aside from using a book for guidance of edible vegetable. The experts know the area and can orient you about the edible plants and ways to start finding food.

Know which species are dangerous in your area before diving into foraging. You will feel more confident and comfortable looking for edible species in the wild if you know what the poisonous plants are.

Video tutorial: Edible Food Sources in the Wild for Foraging and Survival

What are common names?

These names generally mean other different plants. For example, some poisonous plants have the same name with an edible plant. It may be wise to rely on Latin names, which are better in classifying plants and animals. They are more accurate as the dead language is unlikely to evolve or change.

Do not rely only on visual identification, so make use of all the senses. Know that many plants also have their lookalikes. You will find it valuable to compare and distinguish them according to their texture, feel and smell. But then, use your sense of taste only once you have identified and ensured that the plant is edible.

Also, you must know about companion plants that grow closely nearby other species. Know which plants bloom in the season for positive identification and preventing misidentification. Second, you’ll be able to locate those perennial plants you’re likely to harvest through all the seasons.

Which parts of the wild edible plant is safe to eat or use? Plants identified as safe might not always be 100% safe especially some of their parts, such as their stems or barks. Some plants are also edible at certain times a year as well.

What is sustainable foraging?

Do not overharvest.  Instead, you should respect the colony even if edible plants are available in large amounts.   Ideally, you must not collect more than 10% or any more than what you will use. Do not forage protected and rare plants.

Plus, collect only those parts of the plant you want to use. You don’t need to uproot the sapling, but just take only those you need. By doing so, you can also ensure the plant will keep growing. You should not collect over 25% of the plant if you’re not going to use the whole one.

More tips on Foraging

  • Finding bugs and insects: Protein and fat are both essential in a survival situation. Many bugs and insects are rich in both nutrients. For one, you can eat insects, but not other bug types such as millipedes and spiders. Do not also eat a hairy insect, such as a bee.
  • On the other hand, you can dig in termites, ants and crickets, or bugs with crunchy exoskeleton. When it comes to flavor, crickets give out a nutty flavor, while ants a lemony one.
  • Fishing: If you’re near a stream or a river, you must learn how to catch fish. It is one of the most essential survival skills to learn.
  • Trapping – Do trapping not hunting if you don’t have experience in hunting because it can be hard. Hunting also requires spending much energy, which is valuable when in a survival situation. Just learn how to make simple traps.
  • Bird eggs: Eggs have high nutrient content, especially protein and fat. You can also cook them in many ways, such as frying, baking or boiling. To have bird eggs, you must first look for a nest. But then, some birds just lay their eggs in a hole or on the ground. NOTE: In most countries, collecting wild bird eggs are prohibited.

Be a Master of Foraging!

You should improve your foraging skills if you’re aiming at a long-term wilderness survival. The more you become proficient in foraging the better your chances for surviving in the woods or in any other place away from home during a survival situation. Take note of the tips and tricks we’ve shared here and take your survival skills to a notch higher.

Hope you picked up something from this guide on how to find food in the wild and become more proficient in foraging in the wildness when the situation calls for it or when you go hiking or camping. Finally, stay tuned to Survival Camping World for more guides and tips. We’re also featuring how to purify water in the wild in our next article.

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