trail hiking taste testing food

While most plants are edible, although not necessarily nutritious, and only a small portion poisonous, you still need to be very careful when choosing to eat wild foods in the bush.

A simple method of testing food before consumption is the “taste test” method. Taste Testing Food requires you to simply trial the proposed food on your body before consuming it for energy.

The steps are as follows:

  • Break open the plant or fruit and rub a small component of its insides on a sensitive area of your body, for example the inside of your forearm where the skin is sensitive. Wait 15 minutes.
  • If there is no reaction after step one, break open the plant or fruit and blotch it on your lips, without chewing or consuming. Wait 15 minutes.
  • If there is no reaction after step two, chew a piece of the plant or fruit and spit it out, do not swallow. Wait 15 minutes.
  • If there is no reaction after step three, chew a piece of the plant, swallow it and wait 15 minutes.
  • If there is no reaction after step four then you can be confident that the food you are testing is OK to eat. Always, always be cautious though and if there is ever any doubt repeat the process or stop consuming the food immediately.

Be extra careful when it comes to fungi as some symptoms of poisoning may not occur for up to 14 hours after consumption and may cause liver failure. It is extremely important to be able to positively identify the species of fungi you choose to eat before consuming it. Remember: the art of survival is about increasing your chances of survival, not reducing them.

Please Note: If you are unsure about whether or not food is safe to eat, do not consume. You must be certain that you will not be affected by the consumption of a wild food when in a survival situation.

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