Let’s face it, most of us don’t have tons of extra money laying around the buy food. Whether you’re a starving college student, single bachelor, or have a ton of mouths to feed at home, it helps to source food locally for free.
I’m not talking begging for handouts or asking friends and family for assistance. No, I’m talking about practical ways you can get back into nature and gather some of her bounty.
The four methods I’m going to outline will take some work, planning, and maybe a bit of money to get started. However, once you’ve gotten the basics set up, you’ll be gathering heaps of food for many years to come.
Grow Calorie-Dense Food
When growing for substantial amounts of food, it’s important to focus on calories. This means you want to grow crops like:
Fortunately, these are some of the easier crops to grow. It’s almost like Mother Nature wants to cut you some slack if she knows you’re growing for your own survival. If you live in an area with a lot of space, then you can grow enough of these crops to keep you well fed for months.
If you’re in an urban area or smaller space zone, you should check out my urban gardening book that outlines everything you could possibly need to get started growing your own food.
Foraging for Food
Foraging for food is the fastest way to gather free food...just be careful! I’m sure you’ve heard horror stories about people picking random mushrooms or berries and eating them without checking, only to get sick (or worse)!
I’m not saying this to frighten you, only to shock you into doing your research ahead of time. There are usually foraging guides or clubs in every city, so before you grab a handful of books and try it yourself, go visit one of these experts.
I’ve been doing a lot more urban and coastal foraging lately with great success. I’ve been given local avocados from a neighbor (after asking of course), found some loquats on a tree in a park, and even some hearty mussels from my local beach. If you don’t know where to begin, check out Falling Fruit for local items in your neighborhood you can grab.
Host a Potluck
This method is a bit unorthodox, but since that’s what my family calls me, I figured you’d enjoy it too! Since we’re all social creatures, why not lean on our fellow humans for some food. Hosting a potluck is a great way to enjoy the company of others and share in their favorite foods.
Best of all, usually the host gets to keep the leftovers, and for good reason! You’re doing all of the prep and cleanup, so the extra food is often the “payment” for hosting. You don’t need a fancy reason to have friends over...just say you’re trying to unplug from technology a bit and spend some quality time with others.
Learn to Fish
If you didn’t know, this June I’m doing a “survival challenge” called Apocalypse Grow, where I have to live off of only what I can grow, forage, fish, and barter for. As you might imagine, it’s hard to grow a lot of protein and fat...so I’ll be relying on fishing.
Thankfully, I live near the beach so I can do some surf fishing and spearfishing for my meals. Yeah that’s right, I swim in the ocean with just a mask and my snorkel to shoot fish in the most sustainable way possible. Who says finding free food isn’t an adventure!
If you don’t live near the beach, don’t worry, there are plenty of rivers, lakes, and ponds that you can fish in for freshwater fish.