If you ever find yourself stranded in the wilderness and you are out of food, nature actually provides myriad resources that will keep you alive until help arrives. Among these are many edible roots available in most green spaces around the world. It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with plants and roots that can be beneficial to you nutritionally and medically before setting out in the wilderness. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five of the best edible roots for survival in the wild.
While many people around the world enjoy the liquid syrup that is derived from agave plants, many do not know that the plant’s roots are also edible. The raw root is loaded with saponin, a soap-like compound that will lather in water, but slow-roasting the root over a bed of coals for several hours will give way to an edible form with a hint of sweetness that characterizes agave nectar.
Arrowroot is a fantastic edible root that you can survive on in the wild. Found widely in commercial products as a gluten-free ingredient, they are rich in folates, which are important in preventing anemia. Just 100 g (about the size of a medium apple) contains 84 percent of your daily requirement of folates. Fresh roots also contain healthy levels of B complex vitamins, minerals, and potassium, the latter of which helps regulate blood pressure and heart rate. Tender roots can be eaten as is, but mature roots are best cooked in a fire pit for several hours to soften their fibrous texture.
Dandelion plants can be eaten in their entirety, from their flowers to their roots. One big advantage to foraging for dandelion roots is that there are no poisonous plants that appear similar to the dandelion. Its taproot looks a bit like a carrot, so dig deep down into the ground to get the whole root and maximize your yield. Although slightly bitter, dandelion greens offer the added benefit of being high in vitamins A, B, and C, as well as in minerals.
The roots and the bottoms of the flower buds of the bull thistle are edible. It has a two year growing cycle. During the first year, the plant is merely a root. If you find a first year bull thistle, go ahead and eat the roots. It takes some time for the root to grow to a decent size, so try to search out bull thistles that have a bit more magnitude for a more filling root. Some say when the root is boiled it tastes like a Jerusalem artichoke.
Amaranth is found all over the world, and the roots are actually popular vegetables in southeastern Asian cuisine. In fact, the entire plant can be eaten, but leaves that have spines should be avoided. The roots should be boiled or roasted before consuming.