Urban Forager, Prologue: A Week in the Winter Wild

The Quest
During the next seven days, I will be attempting to survive in the wilds in and around my college campus by eating exclusively whatever I can gather and forage. I don’t mean dumpster-diving. I mean roots, berries, fruit, very small rocks—you name it. Want to know if I make it or not? I will be posting daily updates of my adventures here on Wilderness of the Mind.

I’ve come up with some basic rules for myself:

  1. Don’t die. If I’m not up to the task and it appears my health may be at risk, I will cease my experiment.
  2. Foraged foods only. Pretty self-explanatory. It is OK if I gathered these prior to commencement of the Week, as I figure any actual hunter-gatherer would not have just wandered into winter without preparing.  That would be kind of dumb. This food, however, must be foraged.  I’m making an allowance for some sea salt for electrolyte replenishment (See Rule 1).

That’s really it. As I am very interested in actually pulling this off, I am holding off on making too many rules at present since I’m oddly anxious to not break Rule #1. That being said, I hope to sleep outside. As I’ve never really been winter camping, I’m hoping the learning curve isn’t too steep.

I will be filming some of my exploits and vlogging it in a couple of weeks, but my initial record-keeping will be right here.

Want to visit, gather food, or do lunch? Please, come on over! Don’t worry, I won’t be offended if you bring your own food. Just don’t be disappointed when I keep to what I’ve gathered.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why are you doing this?
Can I be resourceful enough to survive on my own in the city environment in which I spend almost all my time? Do I know enough about plants to feed myself? Is there actually ample leisure time in a hunter-gatherer lifestyle? Imma figure all this out, but what it boils down to is I’m doing this because I want to. Also, science. For science.

How long have you been planning this?
Since 2008. More on that later.

Why are you doing this in the winter?
I don’t have school right now, nor do I have work I’m obligated to perform. Admittedly, I am not thrilled about the beastly snowstorm that just rumbled through or the temperatures that are forecasted to drop down to 0 degrees by early next week. Yay.

Are you wearing clothes?
For warmth and for the good of humanity, yes.

It is not enough to eat the berry. You must BECOME the berry.
Trust me, it’s best for everyone.

Where will you sleep?
Necessity is the mother of invention, so you might say I’m feeling a little maternal right now.

No, seriously.
A backyard somewhere? Your backyard? I mean, hopefully not—but make sure your dog is well-fed, just in case.

Do you need a place to sleep?

You aren’t spending time with us during the holidays. Do you hate us?
No, I do not hate you.

Are you leaving us?
No, Chancho. I would never leave you. I just need to borrow some sweats.

What will you eat?
I’m planning on making good use of previous research I’ve done to find the food I need.

Do you need me to bring you food?
No. That would defeat the entire purpose of the experiment.

Are you going to die?

Well, probably not.

Can I have your Tamagotchi when you are dead?
No, I’m not dead yet. Also, Leroy died years ago—too much candy. His little circuits just couldn’t take it. I’m sorry you had to find out like this.

Start reading Day 1 of Urban Forager here.

Note: This adventure is not meant to be confused with genuine homelessness, nor it is meant to trivialize, belittle, or mock any individual who has currently or historically fallen on hard times. Nor do I actually fancy myself a bona fide hunter-gatherer. They’re exponentially more legit. I’m just a kid from the ‘burbs trying to mix it up a bit.

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