Long before the introduction of agriculture, humans obtained most of their food through foraging and hunting. This section explores which wild plants you can tap as a source of nutrition.
Acorns (Image credit: Ahoerstemeier at Wikimedia Commons under a GNU Free Documentation license)
Unprocessed, acorns are a disagreeable food source because of the high amounts of bitter tannins they contain (tannins can mess up your body’s digestive and metabolic processes). You can leach out those tannins with water: 1) Remove the acorn caps and crack open or crush the acorns with a hammer or nutcracker. 2) Grind the acorns in a blender or by hand to create as fine a mix as possible (to speed the leaching process), 3) Soak the ground-up acorns in water, replacing the water and repeating as many times as necessary until the water no longer turns brown. Once fully leached, the acorn meal can be used as flour right away, or can be dried or frozen for later use (because of the acorn’s high fat content, it spoils quickly).
On the other hand, left to dry in the sun, warm oven or food dehydrator, acorns can be stored for long periods of time (Native Americans used to store dried acorns for up to two years as a hedge against hunger).
Acorns reach maturity and fall from trees at different times, depending on the type of oak tree they come from. However, acorns typically fall during autumn or early winter.
You might want to print out some of the following acorn recipes as an appendix to this guidebook:
The entry on acorns at Wikipedia could also be a useful addition to the appendix.
Dandelions (Image credit: Maksim at Wikimedia Commons under a GNU Free Documentation license)
Dandelions, flowering plants in the genus Taraxacum, can grow as biennials or perennials and have long been considered weeds. However, the plant is not only edible but versatile and rich in antioxidant properties.
Dandelion greens are a good source of calcium and vitamin A. They are best picked before the dandelion flower blooms (they grow bitter afterward) and can be eaten fresh as a salad or cooked.
The flowers can be used to make dandelion wine.
The entry on dandelions at Wikipedia could also be a useful addition to the appendix.
Lambsquarters (Image credit: Rasbak at Wikimedia Commons under a GNU Free Documentation license)
Also known as pitseed goosefoot, lambsquarters are a fast-growing, weedy annual found in much of North America. It’s also a pseudocereal crop similar to quinoa (a pseudocereal is a non-grass plant whose seeds can be ground into flour and otherwise used as cereals).
Amaranth (Image credit: Wildfeuer at Wikimedia Commons under a GNU Free Documentation license)
Numerous species of amaranth grow around the world, with some used primarily as a leafy vegetable while others are harvested as a source of grain. The leaves are rich in vitamins and the seeds are an excellent source of protein.