Depending on Wild Foods Part 2: The Micros

Last time, we had a look at which foods I could obtain from the wild, to give myself the fat, protein, fibre and carbs needed to thrive. For an entire year, I will need to find, and eat, 7 roe sized deer, 60 rabbits, 20,000 chestnuts and 27,000 acorns. Seems like a lot, doesn’t it? I hope I can create some diverse recipes!

Only 19,993 more chestnuts! Photo: Nicola Strange

On a daily basis, this looks like roughly 200g of venison, 100g of rabbit, 300g of chestnuts and 150g of acorns. Of course, in reality these amounts will fluctuate in response to availability, especially of the meat. So how does this basic diet set me up regarding the micronutrients needed to stay healthy? I could share with you my large and complicated spreadsheet, but it risks making your eyes bleed. I have instead resorted to a couple of nice and easy bar charts. You can see that the daily allowances of acorn, chestnut, venison and rabbit, easily give me my required vitamin C and most of the Bs. I will also gain substantial amounts of several key minerals.

There are however, a number of key vitamins and minerals still required. The rest of this blog looks at the nutritional value of a selection of wild foods. It should be noted that the published nutritional content will likely value in real life, due to plant and habitat variations. The nutritional contents however, do act as a guide for which wild foods are likely to contribute to a healthy diet.

A well-researched and, luckily for me, extremely common plant is the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). Nettles add a valuable collection of vitamins and minerals to a diet, as depicted in the graphic below. Nettles are also high in other micronutrients, but I have solely highlighted the ones which my planned diet is

Nettles provide an astounding amount of vitamin K, plus a good quantity of calcium. Other easily foragable foods offer additional micronutrients, summarised in the table below. Again, I have only highlighted the nutrients so far lacking in the proposed diet. Note also, that I will be eating numerous other foraged plants, many of which will contain similar range of nutrients as this sample. I am not going to plan every milligram of micronutrient in advance- just get an idea that I will be able to maintain a healthy diet.

  Quantity (fresh) Vitamin A RDA Vitamin E RDA Vitamin K RDA Vitamin B5 RDA Calcium  
Dandelion leaves Taraxacum sp. 1 cup (55g) c.47% c.63% c.357% c.1% c.8%
Sea beet Beta vulgaris maritima 1 cup (38g)   c.20% x c.383% c.2% c.6%
Curly dock leaves Rumex crispus 1 cup (50g) c.115% x x x c.5%
Rose hips Rosa canina 100g c.36% c.195% c.41% c.16% c.24%
Other easily foragable foods offering additional micronutrients

Although I am unlikely to eat the quantities of these exact plants every day, it is clear that eating them frequently would easily cover me for vitamins A, E and K, plus calcium. These plants also bring my sodium levels up to the minimum requirement. I plan to process sea salt to bring into my diet for flavour, which will pick up any shortfalls in sodium and chloride.

Vitamin K-tastic! Photo: Nicola Strange

The diet is still be lacking B5, fluoride, iodine, selenium.Mushrooms contain a number of micronutrients. For example, 50g of fresh penny bun mushrooms (Boletus edulis) contains around 25% of my required B5, while 50g of field mushrooms (Agaricus campestris) contains a similar amount of B5, plus 8% of the needed selenium. Meanwhile, seaweeds are a fantastic source of micronutrients. Only two grams each of sea spaghetti (Himanthalia elongata) and dulse (Palmaria palmata) provides all of my RDA of iodine and fluoride. Mushrooms and seaweeds can be collected in season, then dried and powdered for adding to foods throughout the year.

Penny buns on the oven Photo: Nicola Strange

If I was to eat ALL of the foods so far discussed, which I likely shall not every day, I would be missing around 40% of my needs for selenium. While beef liver and kidneys are selenium rich, I have been unable to find reliable data for venison or rabbit organs, though they are cited as being ‘high’ in selenium. Selenium is also found in chicken’s eggs (25% RDA per egg). Of course, a hunter gatherer would have been limited to wild bird eggs. These are not something I am willing to eat, even if it were legal! Perhaps I will need to keep a few chickens or ducks, in order to forage my own eggs…

I hope this short exploration into wild micronutrients demonstrates how a modern-day forager could gain their dietary requirements. Certainly, our ancestors lived for hundreds of thousands of years eating wild food, without recourse to reading packaging labels or using dietary apps!

Look out for my follow up blogs, where I explore my options for storing my food supplies.


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