Saturday, June 27, 2009

Foraging Calories

Time for another post of food, friends! Today's subject: foraging for high-energy foods in the wilds.

There's a general rule of thumb stating that a person at rest will naturally burn calories equal to ten times their body weight and a person doing strenuous work burns twenty times their weight in calories. For example, I weigh 196 pounds. If for some unknown reason I ended up stuck on the couch all day watching tv I'll burn approximately 196 x 10 = 1960 calories just through normal metabolic processes. Now get me moving, say hiking, chopping wood, building a shelter, or other common woodland activities and now I'll need 196 x 20 = 3920 calories. A top athlete like Lance Armstrong will burn 6000 calories a day when racing, but that's an extreme example.

So, I've decided to shuck civilization and return to the pastorial perfect life of a Native American (or other indigenous tribe local to your area). Book in hand and knife in my belt, off I head to live free and easy, looking forward to gleaning Mother Nature's bountiful harvest. After a hard day's labor walking miles into the bush followed by setting up a primitive shelter I'm famished. Let's see what I'll need to eat to get my strength back.

First, let's look at the calorie content of some common, "civilized" foods:
Snickers Bar...........136 calories per oz
Peanut butter..........168 calories per oz
Whole wheat flour......97 calories per oz
Baked potato (plain)...26 calories per oz

A regular Snickers bar weighs 2oz, so I would need over fourteen Snickers bars to give me the day's required energy. A large potato weighs about 10oz, so I would need to eat fifteen baked potatoes to keep my strength up. Yowza!

However, no indigenous people were known to have independently developed Snicker technology. They plucked their calories from the Earth, so let's take a look at how much nuts, berries, and roots I'll need to eat.

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
Spinach (raw)...........7 calories per oz

Nuts are definitely the main source of non-animal-based calories in the wild. I would need to eat 35oz (2.2 lbs) of acorn nut meat, which means collecting somewhat more than that weight of acorns as I need to shell, crush, then extract the tanin from them before eating. Pecans do much better, I'd only need to eat 20oz of shelled pecan nut meat.

The problem is nuts are only available for limited times in the woods. When they are out of season you'll have to fall back on to fruits & roots for calories. Unfortunately, these have approximately 1/5 the calories of nuts. One of most common sources of calories in the woods are greenbrier roots.
greenbriar root.jpg
Greenbrier root, slightly less calories per oz than a potato. I'd have to eat close to twenty of these. Sidenote: they don't taste very good. Cattail tubers have even fewer calories, especially in the summer months. I'll need twelve pounds of them a day to keep my motor running!

If I can find some sort of berry there had better be twenty pounds of them ready to eat and that's just for one day. I don't think even I could eat twenty pounds of fresh berries. Drying them will greatly increase the mass-to-calorie ratio but that takes time and it'd still require eating several pounds of the dried fruit. Think what eating 2-3 pounds of prunes would do to your...well, you'd better have a lot of TP on hand!

If I stuck with just assorted greens (spinach equivalents) I'll need to eat thirty-five pounds of them per day. Not going to happen.

I get e-mails all the time from people who want to escape civilization and live free in the wild. Most of these people have little or no experience even camping and yet they plan on living "at one with Mother Nature". Foraging enough calories from plants alone is almost impossible in the woods. The volumes/masses required are just too great. One family alone will wipe out all the plant calories in an area in a few days, forcing them to keep moving in search of new harvests. Many people don't realize this. Hopefully this post will help clue them in.


Adventure! Excitement! Carbohydrates!

Monday, June 22, 2009

I support the citizens of Iran!!

The Iranian government is fascistic, theocratic, anti-gay, anti-religious tolerance, and anti-feminist. To show my support for those brave people trying to overthrow this regime I've turned my blog green. To all those who stand against the guns, the beatings, the teargas, and the dogs, I say, "Hang tough!" It worked for the Blacks here in America forty years ago, it will work for you. I know you feel alone in your struggle but we are doing what we can. For instance, Tony Hawk visited the White House and enjoyed a bowl of frosted flakes.

Uh, maybe that isn't a good example of America's resolve to help people fighting against an oppressive government. Try this instead:


Sunday, June 21, 2009


Woo hoo! The Wethergirls gave me a new tacklebox for Father's Day!

Time to replace my 30-year old box.

Yes, I gave the picture above to Misseswether so she would know exactly which tacklebox I wanted. Happy Father's Day to everyone who is or had a father!

Oh, and here is a hamburger I had this weekend:
A thing of beauty, it's a beef burger topped with tomato, barbecue pulled-pork, onion rings, shredded cheese, hickory BBQ sauce, and no lettuce...because sometimes a man needs to be a man.

As far as other adventures go, I spent Saturday hanging with fellow Houston area Zombie Squad members down at Armand Bayou Nature Center which totally rocked. However, rather than write about that Misseswether and I are going to crawl into bed early and watch several episodes of season 4 of the new Doctor Who.

Life is good.

Adventure! Excitement! Father's Day!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Looking for some guest writers

I want to take some time off in July from this blog to improve my edible plant blog. The plant blog's poularity has skyrocketed and so I want to make it even better.

Izzy and I really enjoyed his time guest-blogging for me and now I want to give some other people a shot. The first girl I ever kissed begged me to let her post a "back when Merriwether was young" story, so that's one week's worth. I'm looking for up to three more people to write something they think fellow readers would find interesting. Email me your post idea (it doesn't have to be the entire post) and the url of your blog for consideration. If you don't have a blog but do want to write something, contact me and maybe we can work something out.

Adventure! Excitement! Whitewashing the fence!


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sugar, Caffeine, and Helium

Me to lady: There's a really large beetle on your shirt.
Lady: OMG! Get it off me!
Me: Um, it's right on your, um, I mean, uh, you know...
Lady: Please, I don't care! JUST GET IT OFF ME!
Me: Uh,, it's gripping pretty hard. Let me just...ah, there we go.
Me to Miniwether: Hey Mini, want a cool bug?
Miniwether: Oh yes! Oooh, he's so cute and his feet tickle!
Lady: She...likes them?
Mambowether: I wanna see it! I wanna see it!

-Just another day in the park with my girls.

I'm sitting at my computer, it's a little before 10pm. Down the hallway I can hear Mini and Mambo. I'm not sure what exactly they are doing but it sounds a lot like a reenactment of the Battle of Pearl Harbor. Not really surprising considered how hopped up they are on cake, ice cream, soda, etc... I suspect the loud thumps and crashes will continue on for quite a while yet.

What possessed such fine parents as Misseswether and I to indulge our children so? Alas, Miniwether has trod this Earth another year, now reaching six trips around the sun.

The perfect cake: Half red velvet, half ice cream, topped with sprinkle-dipped KitKat bars and wonderfully stable.

Wow, that was an exceptionally loud *wham*, but I don't hear any tears. We are pretty lucky, the girls are best friends a good 85-90% of the time. Friday night we took them to a free concert. It started getting chilly so Miniwether wrapped her dress around Mambo and they huddled together as Stravinsky's haunting music sailed through the night.

It was pretty much a 100% Mini/Mambo weekend. The concert Friday night, Saturday was spent at the park with a bunch of other families who had adopted from China (including the bug-adverse lady). Sunday was church, playing with Lego bricks, then the birthday party.

Hmmm, the thumps, clunks, and slams seemed to have stopped. I'm sure they'll start up again tomorrow and for many nights to come. That's okay, it means my girls are still home and that means life is perfect.

Adventure! Excitement! Love!


Updated plants

If you haven't been over to my edible plant guide lately you should go have a look. I've been busy updating many of the photographs with much better shots and adding more information to many of the plants.
Close-up of a Turk's Cap flower.

Oh, and if by chance you've been planning to buy something from maybe you could get there from my links here. Even if you don't buy one of my recommendations I do get a token amount from anything you do purchase. Would that be a wonderful thing to do?

Yes. Most definitely yes. (Nod your head in agreement with me here)

Adventure! Excitement! Naked pandering (uh, without the nudity)!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Yes, under 200!

Current weight: 196 pounds
Resting heart rate: 45 bpm
Height: 6' 5"
Treadmills rock!

Monday, June 08, 2009


Bummer. KPRC asked to delay the interview until "a later date".


Adventure! Excitement! No free booze for you!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Y'all can now say "I knew him when..."

So last week I received an email from on of the producers over at Houston's TV station KPRC.


This coming Tuesday they'll be interviewing me for the "Going Green" portion of their 4pm, 5pm, and 6pm local news broadcast. I won't appear on this Tuesday's news, they are just taping the interview then out at Peckinpaugh Nature Preserve. They'll have to do all that editing and stuff before broadcasting. It might be ready for Wednesday's news, though I'm guessing more like Thursday or Friday. They'll let me know in advance and I'll tell y'all. Then after they run the clip it'll be time for the super-secret, your-eyes-only, ultra-ninja-power plan that only YOU can accomplish.

Here's what I need you to do. Right after they show the interview start flooding KPRC with calls, e-mails, and letters saying you love me and that they should give me my own show. Be truthful (mostly) and honest (somewhat) in your praise of me. Telling them you'll name your first three children after commercial sponsors of KPRC news would not be going overboard...

Just think of the bragging right you'll have! Someday when I'm killed by a lightening bolt while trying to paddle an alligator over a waterfall you be able to tell your friends, "Yeah, I knew him back when he was still a nobody" and then you can just sit at the bar while people buy you drinks as you tell tales of me. Won't that be great?! I get a TV show, you get free booze. That's a win-win deal, folks! Don't let me down.


Adventure! Excitement! MerriwetherTV!

19 more survivors

Dudes and dudettes, I'm worn out. On the plus side, everyone else is way more tired than me, I guess the treadmilling has really helped.

See all these smiling people? They'll probably live.

Yeah, I taught another edible wild plant class this weekend. I was out at the Houston Arboretum from 10:30am until 5pm with most of that time walking backwards while talking really loud in 90+ degree heat. Nineteen people showed up for the class including a Zombie Squad member and one couple from Mobile, Alabama! My classes at the Arboretum have become popular enough that they may add extra sessions. Instead of 3-4 a year they *might* double or even triple it if the demand keeps up. Woo Hoo! I'm hoping the TV interview on Tuesday will reach a lot of people who want to learn this but didn't know there are classes available. Wish me luck!

Adventure! Excitement! Wiped Out!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Miniwether's 1st adult tooth

My little adventurer is growing up. *sniff*

Adventure! Excitement! Teeth!