Posts Tagged ‘prepper food’


Typha latifolia


Found in every state of the U.S. including Alaska, as well as in most of Canada. Prefers saturated/flooded areas such as wet meadows, marshes, fens, ponds, lake margins, floating bog mats, seacoast, roadside ditches, irrigation canal, backwater areas of rivers and streams.  Tolerant of seasonal drawdowns in water as well as flooding but generally needs a water depth that doesnt exceed 2 1/2 inches and grows mostly in freshwater but sometimes found in brackish marshes.  Often grows upslope of open water but downslope of common reed canarygrass and willow.  Established stands of cattail generally grow in soils with high amounts of organic matter, may also grow in fine texture mineral soils but usually when there is organic matter making up the surface soils.  Even if a fire comes through the area, the rhizomes are protected under the water and will rapidly grow back after damage is done.

Uses:  Cattail has many uses such as thatch for roofing, woven into mats, chairs and hats.  Used for torches and tinder, stuffing for pillows, insulation for homes, crude flotation devices, wound dressing and many more.

Stalks/Stems: Best from early spring through summer.  Stems have a cucumber like flavor and said to be great in soups, salads and peeled and eaten raw.  Eat the stem starting at the white end and as you go up peel away the leaves to get to the tender center.

Flower Spikes (fruit): Best collected late in the spring, gather when green.  Boil them for a few minutes and they are like corn on the cob (See Recipe Below)

Recipe: Cattail Corn on the Cob


Sea Salt

Put the cattail in a large pot of boiling water and boil for 7-19 minutes.  Remove and serve with butter, salt or seeds and thyme.

Leave 3-5 inches of stem for holding the cob

Cattail Green Cobs
This is the female head of the plant and they are delicious!  
They taste like artichoke hearts (some say corn on the cob)

Eat them like corn on the cob to avoid eating the hard inner stick.  They are densely nutritious!

Pollen: The pollen can be used as a flour and should be gathered in late spring or early summer before the spikes turn brown.  The green pollen can be gathered by carefully bedning the flower head into a bag and shaking it gently.  The flour will fall and collect in the bag and saved for later use.  Once home sift out the flower with a metal sieve to remove bugs or debris and let sit out to dry and save for later use.  It is high in protein and can be combined with Rhizome flower or wheat flour to make high protein pancakes, muffins, etc, or just sprinkled on foods to up their protein content.

Recipe: Cattail Pollen Griddle Cakes


2 large eggs
1 T milk
2 T flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c. cattail flower spike pulp
1 T minced sweet red pepper
1 T minced glasswort
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of pepper

garnish with sour cream and glasswort

1. Mix the milk, egg, flour and baking powder together with a whisk until no lumps remain.
2. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
3. Cook the batter by tablespoonfuls on a medium griddle, until browned on both sides.
4. Allow the cakes to cool, and serve with a dollop of sour cream and more glasswort.

Corms: The Corms are the little shoots that are at the base of the stalk and can be fried or eaten raw and said to taste great. best taken in the fall

Rhizome/Root:  Best harvested in Late Fall/Winter.  This can be dried into flour and even made into jelly.

according to a report by Harrington in 1972 one acre of cattails yields approximately 6,475 pounds of starch.  Native Americans used the flour to make bread and other baked goods, which contained 80% carbohydrates, 6-8% protein and is abundant in minerals and vitamins.


Recipe: Making Cattail Flower


Collect and Clean the Rhizomes: They look funny, but clean them well

Now peel the Rhizomes with a potato peel or knife the same way you would peel a potato and reveal the white/starchy interior

The Next step is to extract the starch from the rhizomes

There are two ways to do this.

1) Rhizome Breaking method

You can just put the rhizomes in a big bowl of water and break apart the rhizomes and work them around with your hands until the starch is removed.

The water will turn murky (see left) and then in a few hours it will settle and look like the right hand picture with the settled “flour” at the bottom and debris floating.

Pour off the water and get the debris out of the bowl and then lay the sediment out on a flat surface or in the oven (lowest temp) or in a dehydrator.


2) Knife/Rock Scraping Method

The other way to release the starch is to take a rock or knife and scrape along the rhizome like you are trying to get that last bit of toothpaste out of a tube

(Not in a bowl of water just on the counter)

This will then cause the starch to collect on the knife or rock, and you can wipe it off on flat surface to dry or now put it in a bowl of water (This is best so the flower can separate from the fiber threads, just use the same method as shown above to separate the water and debris from the flower).

Once the starch has been dried sufficiently you can grind it with a mortar and pestle or put it through a wheat grinder to get the fine flour like consistency.


This cattail starch can now be used as a substitute or in conjunction with any normal wheat flower in any recipe


Medicinal Uses:

Poultices can be made from split or bruised roots and applied to cuts, wounds, burns, stings and bruises.

Ash of burned cattail leaves can be used as an antiseptic or styptic for wounds.

A small drop of a honey-like excretion, often found near the base of the plant can be used as an antiseptic for small wounds or tooth aches.




During WWII the U.S. government wanted to learn more about starvation so that they could better feed and care for the millions of starving people in Europe.

Flyers and advertisements were sent out and 36 conscientious objectors (from religious groups like the quakers who cannot commit violence) volunteered for the study so they could do their part for the war effort.  These 36 men were fit and healthy before hand, and for the first three months the men were fed as normal with around 3200 kcal (same as calories we know today) provided, so that baseline information could be gathered. professor Ancel Keyes, the head of the experiment, then reduce their intake to 1800 kcal for six months, with a diet like those experienced in Europe providing, potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, dark bread and macaroni noodles.  The final three months were a rehabilitation period where the men were assigned 1 of 4 different energy intake groups to identify the best method to provide the starving in europe a healthy rehabilitation back to normal consumption levels.

During the semi-starvation period the men were expected to walk 22 miles a week and expend 3009 kcal daily. As the semi-starvation process progressed the enthusiasm of the men waned severely.  They became increasingly irritable and impatient and begn to suffer the powerful physical effect of limited food.  These men were very kind and gentle people but began to bicker and become angry with each other constantly (think of what the effects will be on someone who is already a hot head and dangerous).  The men experienced dizziness, extreme tiredness, hair loss, muscle soreness, reduced coordination and ringing in the ears.

Food became an obsession with all of them, rituals replaced normal eating habits, they diluted the food with water to “increase” the amount.  Some of the men collected cookbooks and recipes and one of them had over a 100 by the end of the experiment.  All the men lost interest in women and their sex drive and food replaced their driving wants and needs.  Many would see another guy walking home at the campus (The experiment took place on campus at the University of Minnesota) and think that he looked healthy and was moving quick so he must be going home for dinner, they would then become extremely angry and develop a hatred for a complete stranger.


I give you this because its a case in point for knowing the dangers of your fellow man.  In a collapse scenario food will be the driving force in everyones lives, especially those who dont have preps.  Many of them may be neighbors youve known for years or even unprepared friends, and you may want to help but can due to the fact you cant spare any without endangering your own family.  Think of how a religiously dedicated conscientious objector felt hatred towards a complete stranger he “THOUGHT” might be going to dinner, and how others who are less scrupulous will be.

This is why you need a good community around you, a good bug out plan and the ability to defend yourself and your preps, which for all intents and purposes are your life.

The full article can be read at



(Paraphrased from Kellene Bishop at preparedness Pro)

When chickens lay an egg the natural coating is call the bloom, this the the layer that keeps oxygen and bacteria away from the embryo.

Mostly why people are “encouraged” to refrigerate by the USDA and why they are found in refrigerated aisles at the store is because the USDA and the food industry are wary of lawsuits.

One of the best ways is to use Mineral oil…YEP PLAIN OLD MINERAL OIL!


1+ carton of eggs

1/4 cup of mineral oil (this amount should cover 4-6 dozen eggs)

*Mineral oil can be found in the medical section of a store along with pepto,laxatives and other like products*

Step 1:

Warm mineral oil for about 10 seconds

Step 2:

Set eggs outside of carton (its hard to get them out once you put on the oil so pull them out first)

Step 3:

Put on gloves (food handling or latex, food handling are cheaper though)

Step 4:

Dab warmed mineral oil on hands and puck up an egg and run oiled hands over eggs and put it in the carton pointed end down, and continue with all the other eggs.

NOTE: there is never to much or too little, just make sure the whole egg is covered

Step 5:

Now store your eggs in a cool and dry place, for long term storage try to maintain about 68 degrees, storing them like this will only keep them for a few weeks.

Step 6:

Set a reminder to flip your eggs once a month, all you need to do is flip the carton upside down gently so you dont break anyone of them.  You do this to maintain the integrity of the egg yolk.


Dont worry about eggs going bad and not knowing it, if its smells ok its ok, if it doesnt its not, simple as that.  Bad eggs will smell horrible so theres not mistaking it.  You can also test them if you really want to, if the egg floats when placed in cold water it has gone bad since oxygen will get into the egg and discplace the moisture an CO2 and make it float.

**Mineral oil is a petroleum product and can cause estrogen dominance in women and then can cause other issues as well, this is why gloves are recommended**


Another method is to store eggs in finely ground preservatives such as



-Equal mixture of finely ground charcoal and dry bran or finely ground oats

-Finely ground plaster of Paris (if you have alot on hand post SHTF)

You can use this layer upon layer, and continue to stack the eggs  just make sure the eggs dont touch each other, metal or wood.

As with the mineral oil store the eggs small side down and put them in a covered container to keep them in a cool dry place

These eggs can be kept “fresh” for up to nine months, and some places have been known to keep them like this for up to 2 years (but dont push it if you dont have to!)




As violent storms have hit the East Coast, currently 13 people have been killed and has left around 3 million people without power during the recent heat wave.

This is in the heart of The East Coast, and even our capital in D.C. has been left without power.  Now most of the more liberal folks in the D.C. area would scoff at us for being having Food Preps, Water Preps and our Bug out Bags, but the wisdom of our thinking can be proven in their helplessness.  There were areas in Virgina where even the 911 lines were cut, These people are essentially cut off from society and any help other than what their neighbors and they themselves can provide.  People were urged to conserve water until the sewage plants could come back online, now if you have a few rain barrels or followed the steps i mentioned in the Water Preps page and filled up your sinks and tubs, you would be ok with rationing for around a week.  The importance of having even a “mini” bug out bag can be seen with hundreds trapped at amtrak stations and on the trains themselves, just a few bottles of water, high calorie bars, lights and backup power in a small bag would have helped immensely!

We may be viewed as “nuts” by some of America, some of this is due to shows like Doomsday Preppers, and the fact the media LOVES to highlight folks with mental issues who have camo and a gun as “survivalists” or “preppers”, but the proof is in the pudding.  If these folks had the minimum of 90 days of food that we talk about here, they would be doing ok, and the police and emergency personnel would not have to scramble as much, they could focus on the people that really need their help, the elderly and sick.

These examples pop up constantly throughout the year, but they are still good examples of why WE ARE RIGHT!

Keep up the great work!



Came upon a new site dedicated to shelf life information when i listened to a Survival Podcast show.


It lists the shelf life from things such as beverages to snacks to fruits and meats.

Pretty good resource thought i would pass it along!



Remember to visit the FORUM and The new PODCAST SITE!

This is a great post by TACTICAL INTELLIGENCE about how to make butter from the basics in your fridge or your pastured animals


How to Make Butter with Nothing but Cream and a Jar

Just the other day as I was eating breakfast I was thinking about how I could have fresh butter in a post-collapse situation (yes I really do have strange thoughts like these). This got me looking into how butter was made and surprisingly it looked pretty easy. So yesterday I went to the task to try to make some on my own without the use of electricity.


  • 1 Pint of Heavy Cream or Heavy Whipping Cream
  • A glass jar

Turning heavy cream into butter is as simple as pouring the cream into the glass container, tightening the lid, and shaking. Here’s the transformation the cream goes through (I timed it for reference):

After shaking for about 7 min. The cream turned into whipped cream. At this point you could add a bit of sugar and have a great addition for dessert. But if you want butter you need to continue on with the shaking process.

At about the 10 min mark (3 min after the whipped cream was formed) of continuous shaking the whipped cream magically begins to separate into butter and buttermilk.

At this point you’ll want to pour off the buttermilk into a separate container (which you can drink right there or save for a future recipe).

Now pour some water into the jar containing the butter — covering the butter completely. Swish around the butter and water to wash the remainder of the buttermilk off the surface of the butter and drain.

After the butter is washed, place it in another container (like a small bowl) and mix the butter around with a fork or knife, releasing any trapped buttermilk and pour it out

Add salt to taste and viola! you got fresh, creamy, tasty butter.

One pint of whipping cream made almost exactly 1 cup of butter which is equivalent to 2 sticks.

As a test, I decided to see how long it took to make butter with a hand-held electric mixer and was pretty surprised at the results (again I timed it). Using the mixer, I was able to quickly go from heavy cream to whipped cream in about 1 minute. However it took about 14 more minutes (for a total of 15 min) of continuous mixing to turn the whipped cream into butter.

I was shocked. I thought using a mixer would speed up the process significantly but surprisingly it took longer than simply shaking it in a jar!

Obtaining Cream Post-Collapse

Now for the other major problem. Where do you get the cream if the grid goes down (and with it the supermarkets)? Well, heavy cream is nothing more than the cream that floats to the top of milk from a freshly milked cow. This heavy cream is skimmed off the top and processed in the manner above. If you live close to a organic dairy farm like I do, then you could purchase milk from them. Better yet, if you have the space for your own dairy cow that would be ideal, however few of us have that available to us.

The other option that does not require much space is goats (or for even less space try a pygmy goat ). Goats give around 3 quarts of milk a day and are small enough to fit in a 1/4 acre lot. Goat milk doesn’t separate into cream and milk as easily as cow’s milk does but making butter is still possible. Check out this article in Mother Earth News on how to make butter from goats’ milk without a separator.

Another entry into my Survival Foraging Series



Betula species

Habitat: Grows in most environments from dry slops to muskeg and peat bogs

Uses: Bark, Sap

The white papery bark of some species makes a pleasant tea with a faint caramel odor.  First peel off thin outer strips of bark from a tree and rinse them to remove dust, contaminents and flaked bark. Using only a handful per person pour boiling water over the bark and steep for 3-5 minutes.

The inner bark of the white birch can be ground down into a flour and used as an emergency food stuff and in place of bread.

Sap tapped from the tree is slightly sweet and can be used just as is, or it can be boiled down to make a syrup similar to that made from maple trees.  The sap runs for two weeks or so a time of the year when the nights are freezing, but the days are warm.  At the beginning of the “season” the sap will be clear, and towards the end it will be milky and bitter.  These milky/bitter attributes are a sign that the season is over.  The amount of sap that is produced varies from tree to tree and year to year, so it is best to tap several at once.  The sap is very vitamin rich.

To collect sap, drill a hole in the tree about 2 inches deep and 2-3 feet from the ground.  Make a spout from a piece of metal (must be clean and rust free) and put this into the hold, then hang a bucket below the spout to catch the dripping sap.  Boil down on a stove or outdoors over a wood fire (BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN THE SAP).  In Cooking Alaskan it is recommended to constantly stir once the sap begins to thicken.  You have to start out with quite a large amount of sap, it must be reduced about 35 times its volume to make a thick syrup! This process can take between 12 hours to boil 25 gallons, so be prepared. This is in contrast to maple syrup, where it only requires about half as much boiling, so we are not as lucky as our northeastern brethren.  In some countries such as Russia and Northern Europe, the sap is fermented to make wine and vinegar, and can also be used to make birch beer.

Native/Traditional Uses: The bark was used to wrap around fractures, rolled into a tube to call moose, cut into strips to make goggles to prevent snow-blindness.  The bark was also used to make containers of various sizes to carry and store things, as well as to make drinking cups.  The fungus that grows on some birch was scraped off and used for tinder or as a tobacco substitute or additive, and could be dropped into boiling water to produce a tea.  Sap was used as a gargle for mouth sores, and a wash for skin ailments.

Chemically the birch contains significant amount of methyl salicylate the same compound as aspirin! So teas from leaves and bark are often used for headaches and other pain ailments.  Birch leaf infusions are often recommended for those with urinary problems and kidney stones.

Shelters and huts using birch bark are nearly waterproof, and can be molded using wet birch bark which becomes very pliable when soaked.  In pioneer cabins birch bark was often used as sheeting under the sod roofs and walls.  Birch trees are often great companions to gardens and composting as it is believed that fermentation of the compost is encouraged by the secretions of birch roots.  It is also recommended to plant near birch as it often helps along ailing and sickly plants.

CAUTION:  For those who are sensitive to aspirin or young children should avoid birch products or prolonged use of containers made from birch bark.  Generally the tea is quite safe as it is not “pharmaceutical grade” but caution should be exercised nonetheless.


Aspen (Aspen/cottonwood)

Populus trichocarpa (cottonwood),

Populus tremuloides (Aspen)


Cottonwood ranges from kodiak island to the kenai peninsula to the Alaskan panhandle. Aspen is common from the Brooks range south.  They are abundant in river valleys, flood plains and open forests, aspen favor south slops, open woods and banks of creeks.

Uses: Catkins, inner bark, cambium, buds

Catkins of the Aspen can be eaten raw and are a source of vitamin C, they can also be added to soups and stew, but the bitter flavors often relegate them to survival foodstuffs.  The cambium (thin layer between outer bark and inner sapwood) is know to be anourishing food.  Natives would scrape it away, and fry it in grease, boil it or ground and used as a flour substitute, and was often used during famines.  The cambium may be collected in any season, but is most palatable in the spring, when the sap is flowing (to minimize impact collect from pruned branch or downed tree).

Bark of Poplars are high in glycosides sailicin and populin which is very much like aspirin and effective in reducing pain, fever and inflammations.  Decoctions and tinctures are made for arthritis, uriniary tract inflammations, diarrhea and upset stomachs.  A poultics can be made for muscle aches, sprains or swollen joints.

The wood was used to make craties, paper and utensils.  Occasionaly cottonwood was used to make dug-out canoes and cabins.  The athabascans smoke fish with cottonwood, and use the ashes to wash clothes and floors.  A Soldotna man claims that 1 teaspoon of cottonwood ashes replaces ½ teaspoon of baking soda in recipes.  Aspen is us collected in Sweden to be used to feed sheep throughout the winter months.  Trappers often used aspen as bait in beaver traps.

Balm of Gilead

famous in biblical times to treat piles, burns, cuts, diaper rash and assorted skin ailments.  For nasal congestion, place a dab of salve inside nostril or boile one tablespoon of salve in water and inhale vapors.  Spread the salve on horse saddle sores and animal wounds.  Buds are frequently added to herbal salved, and are  ahealing agent but also anti-oxidant so they prevent rancidity.

1 cup balsam poplar buds (cottonwood)

1 ½ cups lard

1 dropper liquid vitamin E

Place buds and lard on top of double boiler, boild water in lower pan. Heat (covered) for 1-2 hours then strain through muslin cloth. Squeeze well to extract as much oil as possible. Discard buds, return oil to pan and add Vitamin E, stir
well.  Pour into wide mouthed containers, when cool, cap containers.  (If desired this can be made with olive oil and thickened with beeswax)



Picea glauca (white spruce)

Picea sitchensis (Sitka Spruce)

Picea mariana (Black Spruce)


White Spruce often grows intermixed with birch and is the dominant tree of interior alaska, growing as far north as the Brooks range and as far south as British Columbia.  Sitka is most common in coastal forests, it ranges from cook inlet and kodiak island, and is very salt tolerant. Black Spruce is most tolerant of wet conditions and is often found in muskeg or swampy areas.  Black spruce is found in northern alaska, and as far south as british columbia

Uses: Wood (for building and burning), Needles, cambium (inner bark), sap.

Spruce tip tea is a favorite in northern climates, gather handfuls and steep in covered teapot with hot water, sweeten with honey, orange, cinnamon, cloves or brandy.  It has also been said that the fresh tips of the spruce can be used in a simliar fashion, and can be dried for year round use.  Spruce tea is an excellend source of vitamin C, and on captain cooks expedition was made into a beer to ward off scurvy.

Spruce Syrup and tea is recommended for coughs, colds, congestion and urinary problems. Inhaling the vapor was also reported to help bronchitis.

The sap itself has been sued since ancient times for helaing burns and sores (as with most saps it cuts it is a tight seal like peroleum jelly so there is a lesser chance of infection on top of the other qualities).  Pitch has been emploed for medicinal plasters for back-ahce and head-ache.  The pitch has also been used for caulking boats and shleters.  The pitch was also used as a type of chewing gum, and is used by professional athlets as it keeps the mouth moist and has none of the drawbacks of chewing tobbaco or commercial chewing gums.

Young red male spruce buds have a zesty flavor and can be chopped and added to salads or as spice to meat.  The soft centers of young cones can be roasted in campfire coals until syrupy and then eaten.  The seeds from mature cones can be eaten as well, but it is time intensive and difficult and could only be considered as a last resort.

The cambium (inner bark) is a traditional survival food and native food source.  It is best in the early spring buy may be sued for emergencies any time of the year.  The thin layer may be eaten raw, boiled like noodles or dried and ground into flour.  Natives mashed it into a pulp and dried it into cakes, and on the trail would boil and eat it.  The cambium may also be dried and used as an ingredient for tea.  To prevent injury to the tree only used from felled or pruned branches.

The roots were used for weaving baskets, making snares, ribs for boats and the spruce boughs for impromput mattresses (I can attest to that!).

Spruce is also a wonderful aromatic, and can be fashioned into wreaths, or just the boughs brough in the home to have a more fresh scent.

Spruce tip jelly is another product that is worth having.

(recipe from

Spruce Tip Jelly

3 cup spruce tip juice

4 cups sugar

1 package pectin

Day One: Prepare the Spruce Tip Juice

1. Rinse 3-4 cups of spruce tips in cold water. Drain and then lightly chop them.

2. Place the spruce tips in a small saucepan with 3 1/2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil and then immediately remove them from the heat.

3. Transfer the tips and liquid to a heatproof bowl, cover tightly, and let rest overnight. (It was a cool evening, so I set mine out on our back porch. I don’t think it matters much whether you leave them at room temp or refrigerate them.)

Day Two: Make Your Jelly

1. Sterilize 5 half-pint jars.

2. Collect the spruce tip juice by straining the liquid through a chinois, jelly bag, or several layers of cheesecloth. (If you use a jelly bag or cheesecloth, be sure to dunk it in scalding water first — not just to cleanse it, but to hydrate it so a dry cloth doesn’t soak up that good juice.)

3. Measure 3 cups of spruce tip juice into a 6- or 8-quart saucepot. (Use only 3 cups. Adding more could screw up your set.)

4. Measure the sugar into a separate bowl.

5. Stir the entire packet of pectin into the saucepot. (I had heard some great things about MCP pectin, so I decided to see what the fuss was about. I have to say, I was impressed. The set is fabulous — a real, smooth jelly set, not like Jell-O. Also, it dissolved nicely, without lumps. As someonewho doesn’t mind using boxed pectin in simple jellies — never marmalades — where I want an easy, reliable set, I have to say I am a new fan. If you use a different brand of pectin, be sure to follow the recipe directions in that box. I’d use the proportions given for mint jelly.)

6. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil — that is, a boil that you can’t stir down — on high heat, stirring constantly.

7. Quickly stir in the sugar. Return the mixture to a rolling boil and boil for exactly 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim foam. (I use a large, shallow, stainless steel spoon for skimming.)

8. Ladle or pour the hot jelly into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth and secure the lids. Process in a water-bath canner, using the correct time for your altitude: 5 minutes for 0-1,000 feet above sea level, plus 1 minute for every additional 1,000 feet.

Yields about 5 half-pint jars. (If you want more than this, plan to make multiple small batches. As with most jelly recipes, doubling the batch size may mess with your set.)


Caution: Distilled spruce oils can be irritating to the skin and should be blended well with other oils to prevent this


Another Part in my series on edible plants in Alaska and the North, eventually i hope to cover about 95% of everything, but to keep it more interesting and easier to read, it will be in small parts!



Maranta and Sagittaria species

Description: The arrowhead is an aquatic plant with arrow-shaped leaves and potatolike tubers in the mud.

Habitat and Distribution: Arrowhead is found worldwide in temperate zones and the tropics. It is found in moist to wet habitats.

Edible Parts: The rootstock is a rich source of high quality starch. Boil the rootstock and eat it as a vegetable.


Arctic willow
Salix arctica

Description: The arctic willow is a shrub that never exceeds more than 60 centimeters in height and grows in clumps that form dense mats on the tundra.

Habitat and Distribution: The arctic willow is common on tundras in North America. Europe, and Asia. You can also find it in some mountainous areas in temperate regions.

Edible Parts: You can collect the succulent, tender young shoots of the arctic willow in early spring. Strip off the outer bark of the new shoots and eat the inner portion raw. You can also peel and eat raw the young underground shoots of any of the various kinds of arctic willow. Young willow leaves are one of the richest sources of vitamin C, containing 7 to 10 times more than an orange.



Arctium minus & spp.

Description: These large biennial herbs stand 1 – 2.5 m tall and have broad alternate leaves with several flower heads. The leaves are ovate to oblong, even cordate and up to 50 cm long. The flowers are tubular, pink or purplish. The seeds are borne in prickly burrs.

Habitat & Distribution: The plant was introduced from Europe and now grows in waste lands throughout North America.

Edible parts & Uses: The young shoots and leaves are cooked as a green. The inner pith of the stems can be eaten raw. The roots are eaten both boiled and roasted and are often used as a coffee substitute.

An infusion of the roots is used to stimulating bile flow and has a mild laxative effect. The tea or a tincture of the roots has been used for stomach complaints and for a prolapsed uterus. A decoction of the roots is used for gout and rheumatism, to wash sores and traditionally as an antidote after eating poisonous food, especially mushrooms. The powdered seeds have been used as a diuretic. The leaves can be used as a poultice for poison ivy, poison oak, to soothe skin irritations, for impetigo, syphilis, gonorrhea and sunburn.

The seeds are an excellent diuretic. A tincture of the seed has been used as a folk remedy for joint inflammation.



Arnica spp.

Description: Arnicas are perennial herbs growing from a rootstock 2 – 5 cm long. They have erect stems and stand 15 – 60 cm tall. The leaves are opposite, simple, entire or toothed. The composite flower head is yellow and flowering is from July – August.

Distribution & Habitat: It can be found in mountainous regions throughout the Rocky Mountains. There are many species with similar properties.

Preparation & Uses: Arnica is well known as a stimulant. This herb is almost always used in the form of a tincture.  It is one of the best painkillers to use for sprains, fractures, and bruising. It is effective as an external liniment and is extremely fast acting.. It should not be used if the skin is broken and the area is bleeding as it is toxic if it enters the bloodstream.

This herb should not be use internally, except under special conditions, because it can cause, among other effects, blistering of the intestinal tract.

Iceland Moss (eryngo leaved liverwort)


Cetraria Islandica, and other Cetraria species

Habitat: Common bare, rocky, or rather sandy soil.

Grows in cushions and sometimes mats, has narrow “flat” branches, and reaches a height of about 2-4 inches.  Brances and stems are strap like in shape, paper thin and fork.  Most species have tiny spines on edges.  The color can vary from olive green to dark reddish or grayish white to reddish, depending on species and availability of sunlight.


Whole plant.  (Cetraria Islandica) is probably the most useful of the lichens for human consumption.  It has a bitter astringent taste that can be removed by boiling and adding a spoonful of baking soda to the water.  In Icelandic countries it is used to make jelly, gruel porridge, in salads and bread.

From George Llano in “Economic uses of Lichens”

Before the lichens were used it was boiled in lye, rinsed in cold water, dried and stored in closed containers, stored in a dry place, it would keep for many years. In bread it was first oven dried, ground fine, ¼ grain meal was added and mixture was baked as usual producing a strong bread, which fair taste that kept well.

Cetraria Islandica was also mixed with elm cortex and grain, boild and produced a water that was used to make broth.  Cetraria Nivalis (also common in the north) was occasionaly used in the same manner. For porridge a container was willed with one third of the lichen and boiled with water 3-4 times and stirred frequently until it became thick. The top and scum was skimmed off and the rest salted to taste.  You could then cool until hard and eat with or without milk.  It could be redried in an oven and used for bread.  For gruel, on pound of finely cut lichen was added to 1 ½ – 2 quarts of water and cooked slowly until about ½ of the water had evaporated.  This was strained while hot and flavoured with raisins or cinnamon.  After boiling and separating the broth, the residue was eaten with oil, egg yellow, sugar, etc as a exotic northern salad.  Hardened jelly was often mixed with lemon juice, chocolate or almonds


Reindeer Moss (Reindeer Lichen, Caribou Lichen)

Cladina rangiferina, Cladina Stellaris and other Cladina Species

Habitat: Stellaris is most abundant in the north, common on open ground, light shade, prefers slopes or depressions where snow cover will accumulate.

C. rangiferina is silvery-gray, or grey-white in color. C. Stellaris and other species range form yellowish to greyish-green.


Whole Plant:  as with other lichens, bitter taste can be removed with boiling water and baking soda added to the water.  These lichens however have appeared to be most use to humans when partially digested by animals and taken from stomach, they are digestible and nutritious.

Hearn, 1795.

A dish served by northern natives was a mixture of blood with half digested food found in reindeers stomach.  It is boiled up with enough water to make a consistency of pease pottage (a pea porridge, consistency of hummus).  Fat, and scraps of flesh are shredded into small bits and boiled with it.  They would mix the blood with the contents of the stomach in the stomach sac itself and hang it aover the heat and smoke of the fire for days.  This puts the mixture into a state of fermentation and gives it an “agreeable” acid taste.  Natives would also eat it to ward of starvation and hunger pains.


Rock Tripe (Tripe de Roche)

Umbilicaria & Lasallia species

Habitat : bare rocks, moist, open woods and cliffs.

Rock Tripe is a group of leaf shaped lichens that are attached at their centers to non-calcareous (mostly granite) rocks.  They are almost circular and flat, smooth or covered in blisters and pits.  They are greyish to dark-brown or black.  Undersides are often darker and velvety.  When they are moist they are leathery or rubbery, and a most easily collected in this condition.


The whole plant.  This is a last resort survival food, and make sure you prepare correctly.  A group of explorers did not process it correctly and suffered from severe side effects such as extreme bowel issues, nausea and other illnesses.  Boil with baking soda as stated with other lichen species, or at least soak it to become more digestible.  Snip off the gritty parts of the base where they are attached to the rocks, wash over and over and over again in running water if possible.  In a pan roast slowly until it becomes dry and crisp, then drop into boiling water and boil for 1 hour.  Eat hold or cold, as soup or pudding.  It has been remarked by other explorers as remarkably good and pleasing.  When natives would run out of food this is what they would go and find, they would boil it to provide a nourishing gelatin to feed his children.


Tree Lichen (black tree moss, tree hair, Old mans beard, wila)

Bryoria specias (B. Fuscescens, B. lanestris & B. pseudofuscescens)

Habitat: found growing on branches of trees, mostly coniferous (pine, spruce, fir and larch)

Tree Lichen are black or generally dark colored and can look like tangled clumbs of hair and can grow up to 2 feet in length.  They are brittle when dry but become limp when wet.


The whole plant. Can be gathered year round which makes it useful as a emergency food source.  As with other lichens it should be thoroughly cleaned and cooked (boiled with baking soda) to remove slight bitterness. Baking, roasting and boiling have all been recommended.  The remaining substance can be used as a flour additive in soups, stews and cereals.   Natives were said to clean it so thoroughly it would lose it color and then add it to dough as one would add raisins or other bread additives and bake whole.  It was said also that the lichen would have the same effect as copious amounts of yeast powder.  Prior to flour they cooked it with grease or fats.  Athabaskans of British Columbia used it as a potential source for emergency food.  Often it was cooked in fire pits, and if thoroughly cooked can be stored for years.

Pit method:

After being cleaned, the wila is traditionally cooked in a pit.  The pit is traditionally quite large, 1 to 3 m across and 60 to 90 cm deep. A fire is lit in the pit, and numerous rocks are heated up on the fire until they are very hot. Some people sprinkle some dirt over the rocks after they have been heated up. Then a thick layer of wet vegetation (perhaps moss, fern fronds, skunk cabbage leaves, bark, grass, or conifer needles) is used to cover the rocks and line the pit. The wila is piled on top of this vegetation, almost always with layers of root vegetables or other food. The lichen is then covered with more wet vegetation. Often a barrier of large leaves, bark, reed mats, or burlap sacks is placed on top of all the vegetation to stop any detritus from falling into the food. The entire thing is then covered over with a layer of dirt.

Water is usually added to the pit after it has been covered. This is accomplished by holding a large stick upright in the pit as it is being filled with the dirt, vegetation, and food. This stick is pulled out after the pit is completely covered, leaving a small hole that extends right down to the hot rocks at the bottom. Water is poured down this resulting hole, and then it is sealed with dirt. Then a fire is usually built on top of the pit, and the lichen is left to cook for anywhere from overnight to several days. When it is dug up it has formed a black, gelatinous dough about a quarter of its original volume.


CAUTION: edible species can be confused with bitter and possibly toxic species in some areas.  A rule of thumb is if you taste it raw and it is very bitter don’t eat it, it can contain toxic amounts of vulpinic acid.



Great Northern Prepper Out

From, thought this was interesting, and scary.  What happens when new regulations come in (none are in the works i admit) that require licenses for small scale animal husbandry such as raising a few chickens or rabbits in your backyard?  Mostly now this only pertains to those who SELL their product, but i could foresee a time when people begin to barter their animals that they step in, or require strict regulations on your own home grown animals to comply with USDA guidelines…because well the government has YOU best interest at hear ALWAYS!!

Great Northern Prepper out!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offered an unusual contract(PDF) this month, soliciting bids from private software developers for a trial program that would scour the Internet for detailed information on all animal sales, potential animal welfare abuses and other unlawful economic activities relating to animals within the U.S.

In other words, the U.S. government is preparing to spend taxpayer money to spy on Americans’ Internet use, so that it can better protect animals and ensure their handlers have paid for all the proper licenses.

The program, according to a contract publicly available on, would see a third party developer creating a system that scours forums, websites, usenet groups, social media — and even live chat rooms — for any information relating to sales of pets, exotic animals, animals used for exhibit, teaching, testing or other experimentation, and, particularly, any and all potentially unlicensed hose shows or auctions.

The contract was offered as a six month pilot project, and it’s not clear how much money the USDA is prepared to put up for it. They also specify: “THE SCAN SHALL BE VIA INTERNET WEB TECHNOLOGY SEARCH ENGINE TOOLS, NOT A HUMAN BEING” — although humans would still have to rifle through the information collected by whatever software is created.

It specifies the realms of its search as: “Global Domain Registrations; World Wide Web; Social Networking Web sites; Web logs (Blogs); IRC/Chat conversations; Message Boards; Public email groups and discussion forums; Usenet Data; Auctions – and Auctions.”

The USDA also appears to acknowledge at least some budgetary restraint on the project, noting that travel costs will not be covered for any contractor. Contractors will also be required to create a web-based login system for USDA employees to monitor animal rights abuses online, and compile bi-weekly reports about aggregated information.

“The report shall provide search results of US Domestic Sites where regulated animals or activities are listed by U.S. companies who are selling to US customers, and shall include any information, if available, on U.S. individuals or businesses that are purchasing these animals,” the contract stipulates.

Information on people buying and selling animals is to include names and addresses, domain registration details, the person’s Internet service provider, and even their Internet protocol (IP) address, it adds.

A complicated criteria set out by the Federal Acquisition Institute stipulates that most data about the program be kept on-hand up to a year. Some information, like expense records, policies, practices, account histories and other records collected by or supporting the program, is to be saved for three to four years.

The program appears to be authorized under two specific laws: the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act, which requires the USDA to regulate sales of “warm blood” animals and register organizations that sell or use horses. Circuses, ranches and horse auctions are most frequently targeted by regulators operating under these laws, and the Internet surveillance program appears to be a direct extension of those efforts.

“We’re glad to see that USDA is initiating a system to observe those on the Internet who conduct activities that fall under the Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act,” Tracie Letterman, director of regulatory affairs for The Humane Society, told Raw Story. “With the widespread use of the Internet, it is a critical tool for the agency to catch those operating illegally or who may be harming animals protected by the law.”

Several other groups, including Friends of Animals, The Electronic Privacy Information Center, The Club for Growth and Americans for Tax Reform, had no comment on this report.

Update: While the USDA did not respond to a request for comment on this report at press time, a spokesman emailed the following passage shortly after this story’s publication:

“USDA needed an efficient way to identify individuals who are engaged in regulated activities related to the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act. The Internet sales search engine will be an efficient way of accomplishing this task. This contract will allow USDA to identify individuals who are using the Internet to engage in the following activities: 1) selling animals that are to be used as pets; and 2) selling horses at horse shows, sales, exhibitions and auctions. During the initial six months of the contract, the vendor will monitor these sales, and then USDA will evaluate the services provided and proceed accordingly.”

The spokesman added that the program would primarily focus on people who are selling animals, and that it would be limited to information already available in the public realm.