Whether you use the term naturalist or survivalist, the concept or foraging and scavenging for food in the wild is a reality for both. The philosophy of a survivalists is focused more on being forced into a situation in which survival in nature is required, whereas the naturalist seeks to live off of the land out of choice. In either situation, understanding what things are edible, and what things are not, is of immense importance. A part of possessing a reasonable amount of emergency preparedness is possessing the knowledge of how to obtain food on a consistent basis.
Many people who are unfamiliar with natural survival methods immediately focus on plant life as the only source of food in the wild, but there are a number of insects that are also edible and contain certain nutrients vital to human survival. Obviously, all insects are not edible – a number of them can be very harmful if swallowed.
Having an understanding about edible insect will allow you to supplement a food shortage due to a lack of food storage.
Variations is Different Bioregions
There will be certain bioregions in which variation and abundance of edible insects will be less significant than in other areas; however, there will be some form of edible insects in almost every bioregion. There are some rather unique methods of locating and gathering edible insects. There have been accounts given of Paiute food gatherers who literally burn grass fields for the purpose of exposing and roasting grasshoppers, which are definitely edible. This is not suggesting that you start an uncontrolled fire in the wild but simply pointing to the unique methods used by some to locate edible insects. The majority of edible insects will not require any elaborate survival supplies to harvest. They make a great source of emergency food.
Ants are generally a good place to start because most species are edible. As far as your palate is concerned, most ants would be considered to have a sour but pleasant taste. This sour taste is due to the fact that ants secrete a certain acid when they are threatened. This acid is what gives them the vinegar-like taste. In many cultures ants are considered a delicacy – often roasted with salt.
You may be shaking your head at the thought of using a slug for food, but the truth is that they are actually a good source of food. Closely related to their cousin – the snail – slugs are highly nutritious. Technically, slugs are not insects, but they are small and crawly, giving them inclusion into the list. If you have spent any time at all gardening, then you are familiar with the abundance of slugs in the warm and wet months. There are certain dangers associated with eating slugs raw, so make the effort to purge or clean them and cook them as a stew or roast them.
You might be wondering why snails are not grouped with slugs. Although they are related to the slug, they are different enough in a number of ways that require they have their own category. Snails have a long and rich tradition of being consumed as food. In a number of places they are considered delicacies. It was Europe that introduced the common garden snail as food. The same precautions mentioned about eating slugs raw, also apply to snails.
Using freeze dried food is a common survival method, but when rations are running low, insects are a great alternative. There are a number of additional common insects that are edible such as crickets, earthworms, and maggots – just to name a few. When the proper precautions are taken in each instance, these insects can be a consistent and viable food source.