Episode 69 S2-34
Wild Foraging In the Desert of North America
Without Land Ch 34
James E. Hart
One of the first things you want to look for when wild foraging in the desert are cottonwood trees. The cottonwoods are not a food source but they are a good indicator that water may be near by. If you can see the cottonwoods, head there. There may not be not be any water when you get there but dig down to find the water. You may only find damp soil or you may get water that seeps up from the ground. Set a solar still up over the damp soil. James feels that in the desert any water is usually worth the effort of securing it but don't over do the size of your still. Keep it small, only about 2ft across, to save energy.
A solar still is a condensation application method of securing water. The sun creates condensation and setting up a solar still is a way of capturing it. Dig a hole in wet sand and put plastic over that. Weight down the middle with a small weight and put a cup under the plastic where the plastic dips because of the weight. The water will evaporate onto the plastic, run down the plastic and then drip into your cup. When you have collected enough water to drink and you are not planning on moving to a new location, carefully take out your cup and then replace it when water is removed. You can also put leaves under the plastic to create another water source. It is true that your urine can also work as a water source. The evaporation process will purify the water.
Another benefit of locating cottonwood trees is that animals will frequent this area. Small animals like lizards and snakes will be drawn to the water. If you sit still with a forked or sharpened stick you can gig these small animals as a food source. Large water pools by the cottonwoods may also attract larger animals like deer or antelope. If you can secure a large meat source eat as much as possible without overeating and try to preserve the rest to the best of your ability. You can cook it, hang it to dry or cure it.
There are not as many edible plants to forage in the desert. There is a desert Ephedrine plant that will give you stamina but it is not great for sustainability. You can find Juniper Berries on Juniper Pines. As well as pine nuts and needles from Pinion Pines.
James points out that no one person could know every plant in every ecosystem in the world. A good book, your own backyard, and a desire to study the plants in your area is a great place to start. Then start researching the surrounding areas or areas you may be bugging out to. The plants may vary in look and variety from one area to the next.
Make sure you include a plant id book in your bug out bag! You may also want to include protein bars or minty hard candies.
The scoop on cactus plants is that a lot of them are very dangerous to eat and will make you sick. There are a few kinds that are edible. James referred to a cactus that looks like a beaver tail but he also instructs each one of us to do our own homework and learn what is safe and what isn't. When you do find an edible variety, you must remove the spines and cook it before you eat it. If you ever attempt to drink juice from a cactus James says, "you better have a good book and be sure you know what you are looking at."
Featured Quote From Today's Chapter:
"It was a foreign place of deep canyons and flatlands that opened up into one another abruptly."
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