Survival challenge this week!


As a project for the web magazine Culture Change, I signed up to eat an entirely wild diet as I forage from sidewalks, parks, wilderness areas and yards in Portland from May 24 through May 30. There was no dumpster diving or mooching off gardens — I survived on wild edibles only.

I’m interested in foraging as a way to connect with the land and explore a fundamental aspect of what it means to be human. It’s also a valuable survival skill.

You can see my daily record of the adventure and what it taught me about sustainability and survival here:

Day One – Oh Pizza, You Temptress!
Day Two – Pineapple weed tea
Day Three – Seasons: Why nature is not like the grocery store
Day Four – Becky eats ant eggs, gets bummed
Day Five – Stopping early: Some reflections
Day Six – Sustainability by the numbers
Day Seven – Shifting patterns

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8 thoughts on “Survival challenge this week!

  1. Fascinating! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    As an Australian, I was stunned to see how abundant the plant life around you was, and how much the edible plants yielded. American ideas of “bush tucker” must be so different from ours.

  2. Came across your week-of-foraging story via Energy Bulletin and from there to Culture Change and from there to your blog. Thank you, thank you for doing this! I have been interested in foraging for a long time and sort of circle back around to it periodically, and you have just inspired me to do a LOT more foraging. It really helps to hear your story, see the pictures, and reflect on the lessons you learned. Now I have to find my assorted foraging field guides and get out there. Also, I completely agree that dandelion coffee rocks.

  3. I am glad you quit when you did before you seriously hurt yourself. Don’t you think it would have been a good idea to acquire the knowledge to hunt and fish for protein foods before immersing yourself into this little adventure. You probably would have made it thru your week and then some if you had the skills to kill. (Trying to eat slugs?? and the guy at trackers eating one also?? I thought that place had it together??) You wanted to try and catch and eat a Nutria? Good luck chasing those down.

    A suggestion for the next experiment:

    The city is full of birds called pigeons or rock doves as proper. They taste delicious. Ever hear of pigeon pot pie??

    Make a draw trap from a net with a long draw string. Bait the net with bread or whatever near where they hang out and snare some. Now the gory part …grab them by the head and twist (wring the neck) Pluck, skin and roast. You can baste them with some of that wild ginger. Hmmm!!!



    PS be very careful not to violate game and fish laws. I wouldn’t want to see you in the OSP monthly arrest report.

  4. i came across “culture change” on portland indymedia, and have read some it and some stuff from this web-address and some of the links, and am grateful for your efforts and for taking the time to share what you learn. I am trying to put together a little hand-guide of edible foods in this area and have been cutting and pasting from your website. I want to learn for myself, and i think others do too.

  5. I found out about your week of wild food through City Farmer News – really interesting stuff. And I commend you for stopping the madness when it was clear that you wouldn’t learn anything more from it. It’s really interesting to find out that a lot of background work is clearly needed, along with community, before something like this is possible. Logical, but it took you trying it to shed light on that fact. I will definitely start reading your blog!

  6. I stumbled on this article on and I have to say, its yet another reason inspiring me to move to Oregon and be surrounded by people like you and the individuals smart enough to live naturally with respect towards the Earth, away from industrialization and dependency on the lies they feed us! This is truly inspirational and I think it’s great that your story even had airplay on ABC.
    Thankyou for putting yourself out there. Your message has reached more people than you may realize.

  7. This is SOOO inspiring! I want to do this myself! Having others on board with you is certainly better than being a lone muncher. I know a handful of people who might want to do something like this. Maybe I can coax them into at least ONE wild meal and take it from there? Maybe they’ll surprise me and go for a whole week? I bet all those fresh wild foods WILL be great for your body. Like you said. Food AS medicine. Probably just what I need.

    Thank you a million times.

    I can’t help but to think that this sort of thing will be essential as industrial civilization continues to collapse.

    Stay wild,

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