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Survival Skills

Check out these 12 nutritious edible weeds available just about everywhere

Check out these 12 nutritious edible weeds available just about everywhere

Gardening can be hard work. Here’s some edibles that grow wild – and free.

by Leon Pantenburg

Who doesn’t want free food?

If you know what you’re doing, you’ll  find all sorts of goodies to supplement your diet.

If you know what you’re doing.

Take cattails, for example. All parts are edible, and the plant is

All parts of a cattail are edible, but don't mistake them for the poisonous iris.

These are cattails. Always look for the cigar seed head.

widely distributed – I’ve found cattails in swamps with standing water, and around stock ponds in the desert. But there is a dangerous look-alike iris plant that is poisonous. (Here’s how to tell the difference.)

Or dandelions:

Everybody knows what they look like. For most homeowners with a lawn, the plants with the bright yellow flowers  are a nuicense.

But during a disaster when the food gets short, dandelions can provide vitamin C and greens to supplement an otherwise bland storage food diet.

Be careful where you harvest them, though, and make sure the plants haven’t been hit with some lawn care herbicide. I used to pull dandelion leaves and feed them to my daughter’s rabbits. The rabbits preferred dandelions to all other foods.

Here are 12 edible “weeds” that can be found in vacant lots, in woods or any place where the herbicides haven’t taken them out.

DON’T eat anything you can’t positively identify.


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Survival Skills

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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