Foraging in New England

Foraging in New England

When Roger’s Rangers were hiking through the hostile woods of Vermont trying to evade the French and Native Americans, more than 40 died of starvation.  When Benedict Arnold and his troops hiked through the woods of Maine on their way to invade Quebec, starvation was a very real possibility.  And yet years before either of these events when Hannah Dustin and others were kidnapped and marched up to Quebec they survived by foraging as their Abenaki kidnappers did.  Clearly in foraging in the woods of New England can provide enough caloric intake to survive if you know what to look for.  That’s never more critical than in winter when finding any food can be a massive challenge.

Some options for edibles in the woods include Black Birch, wild carrot roots, wild parsnip roots, hog peanut roots, Burdock roots, Jerusalem artichokes, Teaberry leaves, cattail shoots and roots, groundnuts, watercress, duck potatoes, reindeer moss lichen, and several mushroom/fungi like chaga (grows on Birch trees), hen of the woods, chicken of the woods and a few others.

Arnold’s party was able to fish in the Kennebec, Dead and other rivers on their hike north.  It’s hard to tell what Roger’s Rangers were acquiring for food, but in the dead of winter, hiking on snowshoes with many people trying to kill you, spending a lot of time foraging, fishing or hunting were unlikely to happen.

I’m not particularly inclined to become a survivalist stockpiling canned goods, or a hunter, a fisherman, or to forage for a hobby.  That’s largely because I’m putting my faith in humanity and our supply chain of food that enables me to maintain a fighting weight that’s about 30 pounds heavier than I should be.  I hope that doesn’t come back to haunt me, but if we get to that point I may just find a boat, grab some rum and sail off to parts unknown.

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