Living off the land is an idea that is widely discussed in prepper circles. I know people who plan to live of the land after TEOTWAWKI. Fortunately, for most of them, they have never had to do it. Living off the land is hard work and for most, it will be slow starvation.
An Australian study tells us that hunter gatherers get 64% of their energy from things that move, 36% from plants, basically two thirds meat, fish or bug, one third plant. The creatures we eat are usually nutritionally dense and high in calories. This does not hold true for plants. While plants can provide important minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and necessary trace elements most of them have the calories you need. Many plants take more energy to collect, prepare and consume than we get back in calories.
Let’s talk about how hard it is to find the calories you need in the woods. It has been stated that while at rest your body can consume calories equal to ten times your body weight. However, if you are working hard, this can increase up to twenty times your body weight.
A 200-pound man in good shape and working hard while living off the land could need up to 4000 calories a day.
So, what about calories from plants?
Acorns…………….112 calories per oz
Pecans…………….197 calories per oz
Apple………………15 calories per oz
Cattail tuber……….19 calories per oz
Blackberries………..12 calories per oz
Nuts are definitely the best source of non-animal-based calories in the wild. To get 4000 calories a day you would need to eat 35 ounces (2.2 lbs) of acorn nut meat, which means collecting more than that 2.2 pounds of acorns. This takes a lot of work as you need to shell, crush, then extract the tannin from them before eating. Pecans would be better, you would only need to eat 20 ounces of shelled pecan nut meat.
In a survival situation if you are not taking in more calories than you are expending. You are on a path to slow starvation. If you are planning on living off the land, you need to not only learn the edible plants, but you need to learn what calories they can provide.