Generally speaking, there’s probably not going to be very many times, if any at all, where you find yourself looking for food in the Eastern Forests.
However, it’s always good to know what to expect in the event of an emergency.
On the other hand, if you’re a keen survivalist that loves to live with nature or someone simply looking for food to forage, it’s also nice to know what you’ll find.
If you find yourself in an emergency situation, you’ll have to forage for food at some point.
You need sustenance to keep going, making the food around you vital to your survival. But what can you eat?
With the large forests bursting with animals, seeds, and plants, deciding and finding what to eat can be tough.
To help you find food, we’ve listed 7 easy foods you can find in the Eastern Forests. Stick around to find out what you’ll find!
Where Are The Eastern Forests?
Before we get into the main part of this post, we’d like to first start by giving you some information about what you can expect from the Eastern Forests as a whole.
This should help you better understand where you’ll find food, the sort of terrain you’ll be up against, and just how vast these forests are.
North America’s Eastern Forests stretch over 26 states. They span all the way from Florida to New England, and even into southern Canada. They then extend as far west as Minnesota and Texas.
Dominated by dense broad-leaved deciduous trees and conifers, these forests are vast, hilly, wild, and packed with wildlife.
In most areas, the forests are lined with pine, hemlocks, and rocky trails.
What Can You Expect?
In terms of what you can expect from the Eastern Forests, you can expect an out-of-this-world wilderness experience.
As soon as you enter the forests you’ll feel a sense of vulnerability and excitement.
The forests have plenty of wonderful locations to explore, impressive views, challenging hikes, and stunning wildlife.
However, the forests are also quite dangerous if you’re not careful.
If you head off track, deep into the forests, you have to be well prepared. If not, you could easily get lost or end up in a dangerous situation.
However, if you prepare properly, you’ll have the time of your life in the Eastern Forests.
7 Foods You Can Easily Find In The Eastern Forests
Now we know a little bit more about the Eastern Forests, we can start to look at the different foods you can find. Finding food in such a vast area is never easy.
However, we’ve done our best to give you the easiest foods you can find.
Each food we look at can be easily found and obtained all over the forests. After reading about each food, you should have a better idea of how to go about finding each thing.
We’ve got a wide selection of food on offer too, so finding something you have no problem eating won’t be a problem. Not that we can afford to be fussy!
Let’s take a look!
1. Acorns And Other Nuts
First up we have acorns and other nuts. Acorns and other nuts are easily one of, if not the easiest food source you can find in the Eastern Forests.
For starters, acorns can be found littered all over the floor of most hardwood forests across eastern America.
They are a vital food source for animals such as deer (You might want to check out How To Make A Homemade DIY Deer Feeder), pigs, turkey, jays, squirrels, and others.
In fact, acorns are so popular in America that they are used in a range of different recipes or simply eaten straight out of the bag.
In the forests, they represent a great high-calorie food source. This is particularly important if you find yourself in a survival situation.
Typically, acorns have a bitter taste. This is because of a chemical called tannin. Don’t worry, this chemical is perfectly safe.
Acorns from red and black oaks tend to contain more of this substance. With that in mind, you should keep an eye out for acorns from white oak trees.
White oak trees are usually identified by their leaves which have rounded lobes as opposed to pointy ones.
Another great thing about acorns is that they can be found all year round. Crops are usually pretty bumper too.
Once you’ve found your acorns, it’s best to soak them in water before cooking. This will help reduce the overpowering tannin flavor.
Frogs may seem like a hard food source to find in the Eastern forests but compared to other food sources they are surprisingly easy to find. They are also a fantastic food source.
In fact, you’d be quite lucky to come across this food source when trying to survive as its legs are considered a delicacy.
Frogs are often found in southeastern forests throughout the wet winter months. They can also be found in the rainy springs up north.
Luckily for us, they are also found in abundance anytime temperatures rise above 40 °F. However, there are some species you HAVE to avoid. Toads and tree frogs are both toxic.
In terms of the species of frog you can eat, green frogs, leopard frogs, and bullfrogs all have long, edible legs.
To have the best chance of success, you ideally need a flashlight. Most frogs are nocturnal. They spend most of the day hiding.
If possible, use a light that lets you keep your arms free.
You should then clear an area and wait for the frogs to emerge at dusk. Frogs are pretty easy to grab using your hands.
To prepare the frog, cut the frog in half at the waist, remove its skin, and cut the legs off. The legs should be cut off at the hip. You can then roast them.
Even hardcore survivalists don’t particularly like the thought of eating insects, but in certain situations, they are a must.
Besides, the thought of not eating insects is purely a cultural problem.
After all, millions of people worldwide eat insects on a daily basis. If you end up in a survival situation, they could be one of the most important food sources you have access to.
Due to their size, you won’t fill your belly by consuming a handful of crickets, but you will be able to consume valuable calories that will keep you going.
They will probably even raise your spirits and give you more belief to get out of a bad situation.
Some of the easiest and best insects to eat are crickets and ants. Ants can be easily collected using a leaf. Simply let the ants crawl on before shaking them into a can or jar.
You can then roast them later. Be careful though, ants contain high levels of formic acid so they have to be eaten in moderation.
Crickets should also be roasted before consumption. Most people remove their legs too. The legs won’t harm you, but they’re not very edible.
You can catch crickets by using a flashlight at night or by making a trap using a jar and some bait.
4. Pine Trees
Okay, we appreciate that this one must seem utterly ridiculous, but bear with us because pine trees are actually a great food source in emergencies.
Obviously, we don’t just mean rip your way through a pine tree with your teeth. The xylem tissue can’t be eaten anyway.
Instead, we refer to the edible parts of the pine tree, of which, there are a couple. This doesn’t include the wood or outer bark.
The best things about the food we can gather from pine trees are that they’re available all year round.
This makes it a super important, easy-to-find food source in dire circumstances.
So, what can we eat? The easiest part of the pine tree to harvest and eat is its needles. However, they contain few calories.
They are an amazing source of vitamin C though. To eat pine needles, simply cut them up and boil them in water. This will make a citrusy tea.
Pine tree seeds are also edible. However, they can be quite small. They are a great source of tasty protein though.
You’ll find the seed inside each pine cone scale. Roast the seeds before eating.
Finally, the inner bark of white pine trees can be eaten too. It is extremely nutritious, tasty, and ubiquitous. It will take skill and effort to harvest it though.
Once harvested, you can roast or fry the phloem.
The next easily found food in the Eastern Forests is crayfish. In fact, if you can get hold of crayfish in the forest, you’re in for a real treat.
Most bodies of water, from swamps to streams are loaded with crayfish.
A type of arthropod, the crayfish isn’t as easy to catch or collect as the other foods on our list, but it’s definitely the most fulfilling.
Compared to other forest foods, it’s also pretty tasty.
You can find crayfish by turning over logs and rocks near the water’s edge. It’s always worth turning rocks and logs both on land and in the water.
If you have the skillset and the tools, you could also collect crayfish by making a basket. You can then use a small piece of food or bait to attract the crayfish to your basket.
Leave the basket in the water before checking it several times. Your best chance of success is in the morning.
Small crayfish can be handled easily. Larger crayfish can inflict a nasty pinch so handle them with more care.
We recommend hitting large crayfish with a stick first to incapacitate them. Alternatively, handle them by their thorax.
You should always cook your crayfish well before eating it. Cooking them in boiling water is perfect. If you wish, you can also bake or roast them.
Most of the meat is found in their claws and tail.
Interestingly, kudzu is native to Asia. However, it quickly grew across the eastern United States after its introduction in 1876.
Unbelievably, Kudzu is able to grow 1 foot a day. Today, kudzu is found all the way from Massachusetts to Florida, and as far west as Texas.
As a result, it can be found right the way across the Eastern Forests. Considered a plague, you’ll find kudzu in abundance.
One upside is that it’s edible, making it a useful food source for survivalists.
Most kudzu plants are found along the sun-drenched forest clearings and edges. You can spot kudzu by looking for its oversized leaves that consist of three equally sized leaflets.
They also have bright purple flowers in the spring and winter.
When identifying kudzu, you have to be careful. Without proper identification, you could end up eating poison ivy. For obvious reasons, this isn’t something you should eat.
When you’ve found a kudzu plant, you’ll be pleased to hear that multiple parts of it are edible.
You can eat virtually any part of the plant apart from the vine. The leaves are the easiest part to harvest and eat.
The only thing you need to do before eating the plant is wash it. After that, you can eat it raw, boiled, or fried.
The final food you can easily find in the Eastern Forests is earthworms. In all honesty, this is definitely one of those foods that even we would struggle to stomach.
Having said that, if you find yourself in a life or death situation, you will have to eat anything you can get your hands on and that might include earthworms.
Found virtually anywhere in the Eastern Forests, whether it be Texas or Florida, earthworms are an incredibly valuable food source.
Earthworms contain a substantial amount of protein and calories and are very easy to collect. Sadly, that makes them invaluable to us, so we have to suck it up and give them a try.
As if that wasn’t enough, worms even contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Once you’ve got over the fear factor, you’re left with fantastic food. Besides, after a few days of not eating, anything will do.
Earthworms are super easy to collect. You can find them by digging in damp, dark soil with a stick. Even better, they can often be found hiding underneath rocks and logs.
It’s also worth brushing aside leaf litter, as they sometimes like to hide there too.
The best time to look for worms is after heavy rainfall. This will draw them to the surface in their masses.
Once collected, clean the worms off in a bucket or jar with water. This will eliminate any parasites and make the worms empty their intestines.
You should then boil the worms several times in different water before eating them.
There you go, 7 easy foods you can find in the Eastern Forests. As you can see from our list of foods, there are plenty of things you can easily find to eat.
There is a wide range of other things you can eat in the forests, but these are the best options if you need something quick and easy.
Despite each food source offering something different, every food on our list will keep you going in an emergency.
Unfortunately though, if we had to pick the most beneficial, earthworms would have to take the crown.
Hopefully, you never find yourself in a situation where you have to survive off these foods but if you consider yourself a survivalist or like living off the land, why not give some of these foods a try?