Survival Survey: What would you eat to stay alive?

Dumpster diving for fun AND food! Image by Lunauna.

In just about any end-of-the-world conversation, someone invariably makes this statement.  “I wouldn’t want to survive in that kind of scenario.”  That may be true when spoken on a full stomach in the comfort of our 21st century, modern world, but in a world short of food, just what would you do to stay alive?  What would you be willing to eat or to feed your kids?

My friend David Michaud of Survival-Goods has put together a list of foods you would never want to eat but could if your life depended on it.  From his list:

1. Animal Food

With any luck the architect of your incarceration is an animal lover and thus in some dusty cupboard you’ll find food fit for a beast. Both dog and cat food contain most of the essential vitamins and minerals required to sustain life. However if you hit upon a few fish flakes, which are high in fatty acids and phospholipids, garnish your dog meat with them and your survival is assured!

2. Waste

In the majority of households the largest stockpile of underutilized nutrients will be found amongst the refuse, old apple cores, half eaten cup cakes, and perhaps even a potato peeling or two. Any tangerine skin you find be sure to keep.  Nibbling it helps to alleviate nausea, something you’ll no doubt experience as your ordeal continues.

Of course if cultural currency of this Freegan trend continues to rise it seems that all of us be rifling through the bin sooner rather than later. Oh joy.

AACK!  You can read David’s entire list here.

Be sure to report back and let us know what you would be willing to eat if there was nothing to eat!

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

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  1. Torc says

    I spent a good deal of my young adult life homeless and on a number of occasions hitchhiking the country. I have learned valuable lessons on where and what to eat. Produce and breads from grocer store dumpsters, the expired sandwiches fast food chains throw out at the end of the night , usually in a separate bag from the trash are two examples that were first on my list to look for food. My best survival lessons were picked up during those years.

  2. Original Country Girl says

    It's hard to say how far we'd go in a desperate situation, but I recon I'd be willing to suck it up and eat just about anything edible to stay alive. Life is too precious to give up on over "yucky" food. Besides, half the stuff we eat these days, like fast food, barely qualifies as "food" anyway, right?

    • rightwingmom says

      Being 1/4 Cajun, I the it's in my blood to not be repulsed by the sound of eating squirrel, snake, and even turtle.

      Heck, with a little butter flavored Crisco, re-hydrated onion flakes, and garlic salt…some sauted squirrel would be a gourmet meal in a SHTF world! Get the traps ready! :)

  3. Jeff says

    The vast majority of Americans, in my humble opinion, have no idea what it is to be truly hungry. We are a fat and overfed society. I would suggest, for those who are inclined to experiment, don't eat anything for 24 hours (other than water) at the end of that 24 hours I imagine that your opinion of what you would eat if you were really hungry might start to swiftly change.

  4. lrod says

    One time when my daughter was around 3, she loved to eat a plain slice of bread. The bread we had on hand had gotten stale and I threw it away and promised to get some from the store the next day. I fixed her something else, but she wanted that bread. I walked into the kitchen to find her eating bread out of the trash can. The picture of my little one eating out of the trash can really disturbed me. I hope we never get that desperate.

    However to answer the question posed…I don't know how far I would go. Especially to feed my child. We all would probably go farther than we think. Remember the Donner party? I bet they thought they would never eat what they did.

    • TheSurvivalMom says

      My son used to eat the dry dog food directly from the dog's bowl. In fact, he also used to lap up the water and come in and out of the house through the doggie door. LOL I agree with you that we would all likely eat things that today we turn up our noses at.

  5. Tia says

    Several years ago on the news there was a report on a very young child, somewhere between 2 and 4, left home alone for a while. I dont remember all the details, but I know it was for at least a couple of days. The young child stayed alive by eating catchup and dry pasta. Pretty much anything she could reach she ate.
    While it is nice to say "I wouldnt want to live in a situation like that" when it actually happens people in general will do anything to stay alive. While I wouldnt want to eat a lot of things you can eat, if it meant survival for my kids and myself, I think I would throw my feelings out the window.

  6. janeeyrefan says

    Dave's list was clearly satire, I think–he says "none of the above items should be consumed," and "if you are locked in your home please attempt to call your local locksmith." It was all an advertising gimmick–at the beginning and at the end of the article he advertises his survival food.

    I do agree with the dumpster foraging point, though. People throw out perfectly good food.

  7. Entity says

    Not related, by Survivial mom, be advised that your website has been flagged as a "badware" website. that is a website that distributes malware. I happen to know you are not, but please get this fixed, as it will be leading traffic away from your site.

    • Mike says

      Yeah I got this too, but switched to a different computer and got myself a big helping of malware (just kidding). Its amazing what I'll consume when I'm hungry for innovative rational forward thinking and friendly opinions.

  8. says

    Ha ha! Gotta love the last item on the list! As for the rest, I'm sure I would have a hard time imagining any of those items as food and I'm positive my kids wouldn't touch them. I think I'll stick with what I know. Regardless, thanks for the interesting, though unappetizing, list.

  9. Lynda says

    LOL, when I was a kid I was very fond of dog biscuits. Given a choice today I'd take a pass.
    All the men in my family were hunters and I was never fond of eating rabbit, deer, etc., but I would if I were hungry enough.

  10. Jan says

    My grandpa was a little boy during the depression. After they lost their farm, my grandpa said he would scavenge meat bones from the trash behind a butcher shop for soup. He also took spoiled produce out of trash cans behind the supermarket. There were alot of green tops from veggies that were cut and tossed, he took all of those for soup. His family lived off of soup and oatmeal for years. He is scared to death that times like that are just ahead. To this day my grandpa will eat anything that is put in front of him. He will eat burned food, nothing goes to waste. Its shameful to waste food.

  11. MaryB in GA says

    Well, being southern, squirrel, turtle soup, rabbit, frog legs, gator tail, no problem, I have tried all of these and it wasn't TEOTWAKI. If I had to, scraps, leftovers, no problem, my spoiled family members, well, they'll get used to it. Dog food, I haven't tried, but would give it a try. Hope I don't have to though!! Snake? May draw the line there, probably not, turnips, kudzu, dandelions, bring them on.

      • MaryB in GA says

        No doubt about it! Have you ever had kudzu jelly? I've seen it at craft fairs and produce stands a couple of times. Actually I've read that you can eat the leaves like any greens and I think the leaves are what is in the jellies. Don't forget poke sallet! :)

  12. says

    I fear a lot of people will allow themselves to starve rather than eat what is at hand. I'm not just refering to garbage or scrap food. I mean people who in "normal" society have very 'unusual' eating policies like no red meat or free range meat only or no meat at all, organic this or that, no processed sugar or corn syrup, skimmed milk only, etc etc.

    I have seen people in conditions of extreme physical labor and climate become weak on the verge of malnutrition and need hospitalization rather than break with their wierd self imposed diets.

    Very troubling.

    • Mike says

      Yep, I have this reoccurring thought that if you wanted to try to understand how devoted people were to their religion 2 or 3 hundred years ago Calvanists vs. Lutherans, etc. you would have to look at the way some people act toward food today. Esp. in terms of their children. To some allowing their children to eat a mass produced, over processed, nitrate filled, baloney sandwich, well that would just will taint the poor child indelibly for life. The closest thing to sin in modern suburban america.

      You can hear the disdain, disgust, and superiority in their voice. People have always found some way to form groups with rules such that "we, the followers, are pure, clean, healthy and the people who violate our code are polluted, disgusting, the dirty people." Violating these rules causes a contamination that is beyond any rational thought. And certainly beyond rational discussion.

      Man, I'm up on my soapbox today aren't I? Anyways, MasterPo I agree.

  13. MaryB in GA says

    I agree MasterPo, often those are the same people who wash their hands constantly and keep Purel with them at all times. I believe in washing your hands when you need to and do. Often times though, I think some people over clean and probably have weakened immune systems because of it. People in the past lived many years, often into very old age and got dirt on their hands, etc. They didn't have anti-bacterial soaps and Purel. Just my opinion.

  14. Bets' says

    No one's mentioned "9 meals from anarchy" On the 1st day without food, think how you'd feel. Head achy, nauseous, weak. Most people eat 3 meals a day, so by the end of the 3rd day, you'd practically crawl through glass to fill your belly. Then the question would be, what wouldn't you eat. Hard dry bread, you betcha, moldy bread, ahhh, probably not, but I did like the fish flakes idea! I'm buying a BB gun this weekend, for small game, just in case, and a whole lot more cases of everything! Donner, party of 50! <- don't go there unless you're on the side of an ice covered mountain somewhere and you've already boiled and ate your leather shoes!

  15. says

    New to this for the mot part. What I would like is some information on what brands of food taste better then others or in this day and age are they somehat alike?

    I have had Mountain House and it was really good.


  16. ZSwinehart says

    Dog food isn't that bad. I raise German Shepherds and I never feed them anything I wouldn't eat myself (And yes I have eaten their dog food so that I know what it tastes like). High quality dog food tastes better than the cheap stuff and dog biscuits just taste like thick flavorless crackers. I think with a bit of bullion and spices dog or cat food would make an edible gruel that could sustain you indefinately. And if all else fails my dogs and their puppies could be consumed too. Don't get me wrong, it would take a lot for me to get to that point, but if my kids were starving I know I'd do anything to ensure their survival.

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