The Edible “Plant” On Your Property That You’ve Never Thought About Eating

When it comes time to bug out, ideally, you’ll have emergency food ready to take with you, and you’ll have food sources ready to go at your bug out location. But life doesn’t always cooperate that way, and, so, it makes sense to know how to forage, find, and hunt for food while you’re “on the run” traveling to a bug out location or once you run out of food.

Some things to eat seem obvious. Hunting for rabbits or deer (assuming that you know how to clean and cook these animals) is a good way to find food in most non-urban areas. But, if you don’t know how to hunt, then you may need to look for foraging options, and the one common “plant” that you very likely have on your property that you can eat are lichens.

What are lichens? Steve Nubie describes them this way:

They are lichens, a form of algae with a fungus membrane to support the plant. But they don’t grow in water; they grow on trees and rocks and sometimes on the ground.

Some of the lichens you see in the wild could be hundreds if not thousands of years old.  That’s why you shouldn’t pick or scrape lichens arbitrarily. In a survival situation, all bets are off, but if you’re not going to eat it, respect it and leave it alone.

Most lichens are benign, a few are toxic and only a couple [yes, literally two out of the 20,000 varieties] have been identified as poisonous. This is not as severe as the mushroom world, where there are numerous varieties that are downright deadly, but you gotta know your lichens.

Just so you know, the two poisonous varieties are colored yellow, and Nubie advises to “avoid lichens that are yellow or orange.” In other words, stick with the green or blue ones.

When you eat them, well, they aren’t necessarily going to be tasty (unless you are a chef who knows how to cook lichens up to make them expensive cuisine), but one of the easiest ways to prepare them is to simply boil them, changing the water frequently, to make them the consistency of gelatin. But, if you don’t have access to heat, lichens can be soaked for a number of hours with “frequent water changes” to make them edible without the acidity of the unwashed lichen. It may not be fancy food, but it’ll keep you going until you can find something more tasty.

If you can, though, Nubie, recommends soaking the lichens in vinegar for 30 minutes before soaking or boiling them to kill possible germs on the outside of the organism. Nubie also adds:

In a survival situation, you may only have water or at least boiling water to sanitize any lichen. In this instance, I would prefer lichens growing on a tree and preferably under a large, over-hanging branch. No guarantees but it may have had less exposure to the elements in this kind of environment as opposed to lichens growing on rocks.

While lichens may not be the most appealing thing that you can think of to eat, they will keep you alive in desperate situations. So, if that is your only option, use it. Who knows? You may develop a taste for these organisms like many other cultures in the world.