As well as growing and producing food for the city's residents, there are a multitude of wild plants and animals available that grow without cultivation which can supplement the food supply considerably.
It is not advisable to eat the fish caught in Lake Ontario or the Don and Humber Rivers due to toxic levels of pollution. Instead there is some game available throughout the city which, properly cooked, will serve as nourishment.
INSECTS, GRUBS AND WORMS: high sources of protein but may contain parasites. Consume by boiling or, for better palatability, finely chop and dry roast, grind to a powder to add to soups. Preferably starve the worms for a day to allow the dirt in their bodies to come out. For snails, starve for several days to remove toxins from their bodies.
ANTS: most ants contain formic acid, cook for at least 6 minutes to destroy the poison.
GRASSHOPPERS, CRICKETS AND CICADAS: remove heads, wings and legs before roasting or boiling. Trap by laying a wool blanket at night in a grassy field and gather in the morning.
PIGEONS AND DOVES: wash well and de-feather before cooking thoroughly, either in a fire or soup. Use feathers for filling coats and bedding.
DUCKS AND GEESE: as per poultry. Use feathers for filling coats and bedding.
SQUIRRELS: cleaned, skinned and quartered, good for frying or in stews.
RACCOONS: cleaned, skinned and chopped, good for stews or in a fire. Use pelt for boots, hats and mitts.
PINE NEEDLES: boiled into a tea, serves as an excellent source of Vit C to prevent scurvy and boost immunity.
DANDELION: leaves and flowers boiled into a tea is a health-boosting bitter and liver tonic. Fresh leaves, eaten raw or cooked, are also a healthful addition to the diet.
GRASSES: slowly pulling up blade reveals the edible white flesh that is usually just below the surface of the ground. Avoid eating the tough greens and rough edges.
GRASS SEEDS: All grass seeds are edible, but use the Edibility Test on unknown seeds. Discard grains that are blackened or carry black bean-like grains (these are infected and toxic).
ROOTS AND TUBERS: wash and cook all roots and tubers for better digestibility.
TREE BARK: peel off a large section of bark, but do not cut bark from more than halfway around the tree or you might kill the tree. The light-coloured layer of inner bark is the edible portion. Consume raw or cook like spaghetti or dry and grind into a powder. Choose from aspens, birch, slippery elm, maples, tamaracks, spruce and pines.
CHESTNUTS: collect from trees and boil or roast to eat. Can also be dried and ground into flour.
1:h:ii) GUIDE TO EDIBLE & POISONOUS PLANTS & BERRIES
In case of potential food poisoning, follow these steps:
- spit out any part of the plant that is still in the mouth
- do not induce vomiting
- take small sips of clean water
- go immediately to your community’s health station
In case of contact with a poisonous plant:
- wash the skin immediately with soap and lukewarm water
- go immediately to your community’s health station
The following plants are POISONOUS:
amaryllis, angel’s trumpet, arrowhead vine, autumn crocus, azalea, apple seeds, apricot seeds
bittersweet, black locust, boston ivy
caladium, calla lily, castor bean, chinese lantern plant, clematis, cotoneaster, autumn crocus, cyclamen, cherry pits, crabapple seeds
daffodil, daisy (chrysanthemum), delphinium, dumb cane
elephant’s ear, english ivy, eucalyptus, euonymus
holly, horse chestnut, hyacinth, hydrangea
jack-in-the-pulpit, jequirity bean, jerusalem cherry, jimson weed
lark, larkspur, lily-of-the-valley, lobelia, lupine
milkweed, mistletoe, monkshood, morning glory, mother-in-law plant
peony, periwinkle, philodendron, poison ivy, poison oak, pokeweed, potato (greens), pothos, peach pits
rhododendron, rhubarb (greens), rosary bean
snake berry, snow-on-the-mountain, star of bethlehem, St. John’s Wort
tobacco, tomato (greens and whole plant and unripe fruit)
water hemlock, wisteria
The following plants are NOT POISONOUS:
african violet, alyssum, asparagus fern, astilbe
baby’s breath, baby’s tears, bachelors buttons, black-eyed susans, boston fern
chinese evergreen, christmas cactus, coleus, coral bells, cosmos, crocus
dahlia, dandelion, daylily, dracaena
easter lily, evening primrose
ficus benjamina, freesia, fuschia
gardenia, glosinia, grape hyacinth
hens and chicks, hibiscus, hollyhock, honey locust, hoya
maple (seeds and young leaves), marigold, money plant, mountain ash, mulberry
peperomia, persian violet, petunia, phlox, poinsettia, polka-dot plant, portulaca, prayer plant, primrose, purple coneflower
rose, rubber plant
schefflera, snapdragon, spider plant, spiraea, statice
wandering jew, weeping fig, weigela
The following is a guide to reduce chances of mushroom poisoning:
- poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms grow together, and only a mushroom expert (mycologist) can tell the difference
- it is dangerous to eat any mushroom found outdoors
- cooking mushrooms does not make them safe to eat
- consuming even small parts of some mushrooms can cause sickness and death
- after eating a poisonous mushroom, it may take several hours for illness to become evident
- in case of dubious mushroom consumption, go immediately to your community’s health center
- remove all mushrooms growing in the community to prevent accidental consumption by children or adults unaware of the danger of poisoning
1:h:iii) EDIBILITY TEST
When in doubt of whether a plant or berry is edible, take this test without skipping a single step, being patient and thorough. Do not use the edibility test for mushrooms. Mushrooms must be positively identified. Even the smallest amounts of poisonous mushrooms can be lethal. Do not eat plants with milky sap, except for dandelions.
STEP 1: SMELL
Crush part of the plant. If it smells like almonds or peaches do not eat.
STEP 2: SKIN IRRITATION
Crush part of the plant. Rub some of the juice onto the inside of your arm. Reject this plant if you experience any discomfort, rash, swelling or burning.
STEP 3: MOUTH TEST
Only if the test plant passed the first 2 tests, proceed with the mouth test with caution. Spit out and reject the test plant at the first sign of burning, swelling, irritation, nausea, dizziness or stomach ache.
Crush part of the plant and place a small amount of it on your lips for 10 seconds. If no ill effects, place a pea-sized portion in a corner of your mouth for 10 more seconds. Then move it to the tip of your tongue for 10 more seconds. Then move it under your tongue for 10 more seconds. If no ill effects, chew the substance and hold it in your mouth for an entire 15 minutes. Then spit it out and wait 5 hours watching for any ill effects.
STEP 4: FIRST SWALLOW TEST
If no ill effects after 4 hours, chew and swallow one teaspoon-sized bite. Wait 10 hours while fasting – consume no drink or food during this period.
STEP 5: SECOND SWALLOW TEST
If no ill effects after 10 hours, eat about 1/3 cup of this plant. Wait 24 hours. If no ill effects, you may consider this plant non-poisonous.
Read the next section, Beekeeping & Honey Production...