I was recently doing some research on radiation and came across some information in a government publication on gathering wild food after nuclear fallout. This was written for the US military. The first part talked about gathering packaged and canned foods. Canned foods should have the labels removed and then be washed. The food inside will be good.
Foods stored inside closed containers or protected areas like cellars should be safe. However, you need to wash them prior to handling or eating.
Now what about Hunting Animals
First, assume that all animals, regardless of their living conditions have been exposed to nuclear fallout. Nuclear fallout affects animals in the same way it affects humans. Most animals that are exposed will get sick or die within the first month. If no other foods are available you will have to use these animals as a food source.
- Follow these rules
- Do not eat any animals that appear to be sick. It may have developed a bacterial infection because of poisoning from nuclear fallout. This meat even if thoroughly cooked could cause illness or death.
- Carefully skin all animals to prevent fallout particles from the skin and fur from contacting the meat. Do not eat meat close to the bones and joints, as 90% of the radiation is in the animal’s skeleton. Leave at least an 1/8 inch of meat on all bones. Discard all internal organs such as the liver, kidneys and heart, since they concentrate beta and gamma radiation. The remaining muscle meat should be ok to eat.
- Cook all meat until it is well done.
- Use fish, aquatic animals or plants only in an extreme emergency. They will be much more contaminated than land animals.
- All eggs should be safe to eat.
- Avoid all milk in contaminated areas.
Gathering plants after nuclear fallout
Plants become contaminated by the accumulation of nuclear fallout on their leaves or by absorbing it through their roots.
- Your first choice of plants should be plants that grow their eatable portions underground. Examples would be potatoes, turnips, carrots, or Jerusalem Artichokes. These should be safe to eat, once you scrub them and remove their skins.
- Your second choice is plants that have a smooth skin that you can remove after thoroughly washing. Examples would be bananas, apples, oranges, lemons, tomatoes, or similar foods.
- Your third choice would be any smooth skinned fruit, vegetable or plant that that you cannot easily peel. Wash them thoroughly.
- Just remember the effectiveness of scrubbing is directly related to the roughness of the surface of the plants surface. Washing can remove up to 90% of the nuclear fallout from smooth skin plants, but only 50% from rough skinned ones. Eat rough skinned plants only as a last resort.
This information comes from the latest version of the U.S Army Survival Manual. Hope you never have to use it.