The author of The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices
Why build a Forager’s Toolkit? Well, as the world experiences further supply chain disruptions and food shortages, now is the perfect time to add foraging to your list of prepper skills. To help with that endeavor, here’s a guide to the essentials you need in your Forager’s Toolkit to effectively harvest the food around you.
Essentials to build a Forager’s Toolkit
I understand that a blade is a blade. But there’s no denying that having the right tool for the job can make it easier. For myself, I’ve noticed that a hawkbill blade makes harvesting/foraging MUCH easier.
I’ve also used a Karambit to a similar effect. Karambits are for agricultural work, so I look at using this blade – which is now widely considered a fighting knife – as simply allowing it to get back to its roots. Here are a few to consider:
When you build a foragers toolkit, you have to have field guides if you’re going to forage safely. I consider them an absolute necessity. You’re going to need more than one to verify that the plant in your hand is indeed what you think it is. When it comes to determining what the plant is, these books will help guarantee you’re about to eat what you think you are.
It’s also helpful to look for field guides specific to your area.
Mortar and Pestle
You will need to ground a large number of the plants and seeds you gather. Whether you’re making dandelion tea, a compress, or acorn flour, you’re going to need a heavy-duty and reliable way of beating the plant down into mush or powder. I’ve used a hammer and Ziploc bags to varying degrees of success in the past. However, a mortar and pestle is most certainly a more effective and convenient option. Here are some options to help you choose:
- Heavy Duty Granite Mortar and Pestle
- Unpolished Granite Mortar and Pestle
- Cole & Mason Granite Mortar and Pestle
I don’t think it truly matters which type of bag you take with you to forage. A plastic grocery bag will do and they are lightweight, virtually free, abundant, and take up minimal space. As I head out into the woods, I always keep 1-2 of these on my person – typically in a backpack. But, if you prefer to have a bag specifically made for this harvesting and collecting here are some recommendations:
- Barebones Harvesting and Gathering Bag
- Asenie Foraging Bag
- TYLSON Harvest, Forage and Fruit Picker Bag
- Jeereal Collapsible Canvas Foraging Pouch
Mushroom hunters typically prefer a wicker basket to spread spores further as they walk. Here are a few basket suggestions:
Learn how to cook what you harvest
Now you know the essentials needed to build a forager’s toolkit and you have learned to identify the edible and not edible. What’s next? Well, you will need to learn how to cook your wild edibles. I highly recommend Euell Gibbons’ Stalking the Wild Asparagus. I consider Stalking the Wild Asparagus to be one of the most thought-provoking wild edibles books I’ve ever read. Gibbon’s notes in the book that there have been multiple survival situations throughout history where rescuers eventually find who they have been looking for. Dead. In the middle of an abundance of wild edibles.
The cause of death?
Food is all around you. You have to understand what it is, how to get it, and how to use it. If you do that, you can significantly diminish the risk of your family ever succumbing to starvation.
Here are a couple more highly-rated books on preparing wild edibles:
- The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting and Preparing Wild Edibles
- Edible Wild Plants for Beginners
- Foraging With Kids: 52 Wild and Free Edibles to Enjoy With Your Children
Get the proper training
I think books are fantastic. Still, there’s something to be said for having somebody else walk you through the process of “this is edible, this is not.” You will gain knowledge from training programs and confidence as well. If you’re afraid to eat the wild edibles you’ve just gathered – leaving them to rot in their bags – then you’ve not done much good, have you?
Tony Nester over at Ancient Pathways in Colorado/Arizona does an excellent job with this. But, a quick internet search will help you quickly find something that’s a tad closer to your location if need be. For example, Eat the Planet can help you find foraging tours, walks, groups, and classes in your state. FindaForager.com can help you, well, find a forager!
If there are foraging courses you highly recommend, please let us know about them in the comments below!
Will foraging help you live entirely off the land?
Maybe – if you are proficient in your knowledge base – but I don’t think so for the average Joe. While I’m not saying it’s an impossibility, I believe the number of Americans who could successfully live off the land 100% via harvest and gathering type of activities is minimal.
However, anything that helps you put food on your table is beneficial to you. Even if you go through the training, get the books, and only get four wild edibles, that’s still something. And, knowing about acorn flour, dandelions, chicory, and wild onions is most certainly better than not knowing about them at all. This knowledge will help you survive longer and with more comfort than the person who doesn’t know squat about foraging.
A foraging we will go…
Foraging is something that takes practice, and it does take time to become proficient. If you are going to build a Forager’s Toolkit, what will you include in yours? What are your thoughts on foraging and the tools needed? Is there other equipment you would add to your Forager’s Toolkit? Let us know in the comments below!
Aden Tate has a master’s in public health and is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com, TheFrugalite.com, PewPewTactical.com, SurvivalBlog.com, SHTFBlog.com, ApartmentPrepper.com, HomesteadAndPrepper.com, and PrepperPress.com. Along with being a freelance writer, he also works part-time as a locksmith. Aden has an LLC for his micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.
Get a decent slingshot, slingbow, wrist rocket, cataplu, or bean flip. Whatever you call it, they work well, take little space and can help add protein to that bag of weeds, as my dad always called my foraging bounty. Also, learn to make and use a digging stick, or maybe even throw it like the old school rabbit sticks.
I like a good digging stick.
Good article. Thanks for the info. I’m off to put my kit together, as soon as I finish typing this.
I would add a hand trowel, and machete to the list. For serious digging a full size shovel will make the labor less intense. In the Southwest of Colorado, many edible roots exist, but learn to identify what you’re looking for. The machete can help you cut through thick roots faster than any knife. I keep a gardener’s machete, the blades only 9 or 10 inches. A hand scythe/sickle is in my kit as well, for reaping some of the wild seed head grasses that are similar to wheat/oats. Both can be found at Garden Supply stores.
A wooden or leather mallet for Pinõn cone breaking, as it keeps from you from breaking too many of the nuts while harvesting them, but I’d keep that at my site, and bring the cones back to harvest the seed/nut.
There are probably regional tools that might make foraging in your area easier. You should research how something is harvested along with what you can harvest.
In an area/region with a long or year round growing season, I could see it as a useful addition.
I would not bet my life on forging alone.
As an addition to my other food production.
Each area/region has its pros and cons.
The challenge is to adapt to it accordingly.
Great article , I have been learning foraging since 1963 … you never stop learning and practicing .
Here are some more resources :
Foraging Texas , website
Willowhaven , Creek Stewart ,website
Herbal Resource , website
Native Tech , website
Native harvest , E. Barrie Kavasch (book)
I also reccomend you get a journal … reading , writing , and then practicing it will help you to retain the knowledge .
Thankyou again .
Foraging isn’t going to keep you alive, in the sense of providing enough calories. However, it may well keep you healthy in a situation where you have enough staple food (it could just be potatoes that you’ve grown in your own garden) but not enough variety of food and you are missing on some nutrients.
Hawkbill knives are great and I recommend using them. And you’ll absolutely need a guide. Actually, get several. Different guides have different strong points. You can learn to recognise edibles from a guide without any other help (I have) but you’ll need practice, especially at the beginning. Don’t try eating anything you aren’t sure of.
We need more of this these types of Articles.
Lots of real info.
Foraging is a good idea for Urban preppers as well as Survivalists. Anything that can stretch your food or herbal medical supply should be part of your plan.
The other half of the program is in trapping and snaring wild or feral animals.
Some of this stuff might not taste as good or be as pleasant as you might like, but if it keeps you alive that is the main thing.
There is an additional area in foraging also: domestic crops.
How many people can spot a potato plant, carrot garlic or onion or any of those commercial fruit or produce crops from just their surface leaves? Even after a crop is harvested a few stray plants might be left or the birds might have scattered a few stray seeds, that have grown into plants some distance from a field.
Very good article. Nice looking tools too. I use scissors but I am really only looking for leaves. Make sure you find an area that is not contaminated with pesticides/herbicides. Here’s the main things I forage for:
wood violet flowers & leaves (tea)
Sorrel (edible – tastes like lemon)
***chickweed & plantain also make a great boo-boo balm
wild blackberries (jelly & wine)
blackberry leaves (tea)
wild honeysuckle flowers (jelly, tea & wine)
wild plums (jelly & wine)
In the upper midwest you’re not going to survive on foraging, it isn’t an option year round. But it will add variety to your diet as well as vitamins and minerals you may not get elsewhere. You may find plants with medicinal value as well.
Knowing how to dry what you forage would be a good skill to have so you can preserve some of your finds for the rest of the year.
Our food crops came from formerly wild plants and selective breeding, collecting seeds from your forage finds and helping them spread would be a good idea.
No matter whether your area will allow for year round foraging or not, it’s a great skill to have.
It’s definitely a skill I need to work on more. I’ve invested in seveal books to help me identify the plants I encounter. Some are specific to the midwest, others are more general but all are useful. Add in some books on medicinal uses and properties and there is a lot that can be done with a humble weed or wild plant.
Don’t be a dick and over harvest. Educate (I know, “liberal” speak to most of you) yourself re: edibles in your area. While others might over harvest ginseng, ramps etc., you can take heart that *you* weren’t the over-harvester. And if you think “yeah, I should have grabbed it all”, a pox on you.
The idea that education is strictly a “liberal” concept is a false one.
I myself have commented on getting formal training (aka, educated) when it comes to medical and firearms more than a few times.
And I am not a liberal.
Nor am I conservative.
As for over harvesting, in order to meet your caloric needs you just may end up over harvesting or going hungry. As forage is depleted in a given area, you will have to forage farther. That could present a multitude of problems, from expending even more energy (calories) to forage putting you into a net used energy to caloric intake deficit, to security issues. History is full of examples of tribes going to war against each other over resources, to include hunting/forage territory.
Then there is the local population density to available resources like foraging. In the late 1990s North Korea (NK) experience a famine due to crop failures and government mismanagement. NK people resorted to eating bark, and grass after everything else that was edible was gone. One UN inspector (when the UN was allowed to observe) noted the lack of the sounds of birds and bugs.
When you are truly hungry (I know a few regular commenters here on TOP can relate) , taking “heart” is going to be the last of your concerns.
To add: Unless you have done a survey/census in your area, you have no idea if that blackberry or apple is the last one, or if there are 10,000 more.
You would know even less so if you are foraging into a new area.
Also, there are more than a few “liberals” who view CRT as abhorrent. Megan Kelly comes to mind and a number of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher agree.
Without a doubt, if you want to lower a society’s education standard, by all means, pursue CRT and its likes.
From what I am reading, those parents whom are homeschooling, with a concentration in STEM, civics, world and American history, critical thinking, have far outperformed those in CRT public education.
What could be better than a education, informed society?
I have regional foraging books and medicinals books. I have an old denim backpack I take forraging. I carry small sharp pruners and a utility knife.
I’ve added an app on my phone that also identifies plants.