In case something unexpected happens, we need to be able to find enough food in order to live off the land. Today, most of us rely on fast-food, frozen meals and canned items. All of these foods come with an expiration date. So, what about when something unexpected happens and we need to find enough food with nutritional value for our bodies to function? Well, there are plenty of things out there that can be used as substitutes. In case you run out of food, these edible items could actually save your life. Here, we are listing 10 things that you probably didn’t realize are edible.
1. Gold does not chemically react and it can pass through the digestive system without being absorbed into the intestine. Today, 24-carat gold sheets or flakes are part of a new trend where people pay thousands of dollars to eat it with their favorite foods.
Of course you have seen edible gold leaf or flakes in action before. Many wealthy men and women have been following this trend of incorporating gold into their meals. These gorgeous gold decorations are completely safe to eat and are often used to cover whole candies like chocolates or truffles or applied sparingly as a small decorative touch. Gold is considered “biologically inert”, which means that it passes through the digestive tract without being absorbed.
However, the gold that you intend to consume has to be pure; which means it should be 22-24 carats. The smaller the carat value, the more impurities it has and the less safe it is to eat. If you ever intend to eat gold, make sure that it is clearly labeled as “edible” and has 22-24 carats. (source)
2. Avocado seeds are very rich in antioxidants and fiber. Some people are eating avocado stones for supposed health benefits.
Each avocado has a single large seed or stone that is normally thrown away, but some people claim that it has health benefits and should be eaten. The avocado seed is encased in a hard shell and comprises 13–18% of the size of the whole fruit. There are many nutritional experts who suggest that after rinsing and dehydrating the stone, removing the outer skin, and dicing and blitzing it in a blender, it can be added to smoothies and baked goods to provide fiber, antioxidants and extra nutrients.
One study from Pennsylvania State University suggested that eating avocado stones could help with diabetes and hypertension. However, the California Avocado Commission does not recommend it, since further studies are needed. (source)
3. Tree bark was a must-have food during periods of scarcity. For over a millennia, many have used it to make ‘pasta’ or to grind it into a flour to make bread.
Our ancestors used inner tree bark to make bread. In fact, some people still follow this practice. Several Native American groups as well as the inhabitants of Lapland in Finland, are known to make bread with ground tree bark during cruel winter months. The rough outer bark is discarded for the inner layer, called cambium, which is softer and more nutritious. Some popular favorites include aspen, birch, willow, maple, and pine. Although these types of bark are considered safe to eat, it’s always good to know your flora before trying. (source)
4. Birds’ nests are big business in Asia. In China, the nests of swiftlets have been eaten for hundreds of years in soup form.
This might not be on everyone’s gastronomic bucket list but birds’ nests are top on the list of foods consumed in some Asian countries. In China, many believe that the nests of swiftlets have health-giving properties and prolong life. According to some sources, the nests have a unique taste and high nutritional value. The cave-dwelling birds called swiftlets are native to Southeast Asia and make their nests using edible items.
Many consider the nest soup to be a special delicacy. However, it’s not easy to collect the nests, since many of them are at the edges of cliffs or high on top of caves. Because of the trouble in collecting the nests, they can sell for around $4,500 per pound; making them one of the most expensive foods on the planet. According to LiveScience, the nests are rich in protein and packed with amino acids, anti-inflammatory properties and anti-oxidants. Although they are mainly consumed in soup form, many companies are turning them into food, drink and cosmetics additives. (source)
5. Cacti are very versatile. After being properly prepared, it can be eaten raw or cooked and added to desserts, drinks, salads, soups and even bread.
Cacti’s are usually associated with the warm and hot desert. Their thorny texture is enough to keep us far away from them. Not all cactus plants are edible but the nopal cactus, more commonly known as the prickly pear cactus, is native to Mexico and famous for its health benefits due to its high antioxidant, vitamin, mineral, and fiber content.
Nopales or nopalitos are eaten as a vegetable and can be found everywhere in the American Southwest and Mexico. The nopales cactus tastes a little like okra or cucumber and is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids. They can be eaten raw, diced, or used in many dishes, including tacos and scrambled eggs. (source)
6. Organic eggshells that are boiled then baked at 200 degrees until crispy can then be ground into a powder and used as a calcium supplement.
Studies show that powdered eggshells can be a useful source of dietary calcium. An NCBI study that took place in 2003, found that eggshells can be used as a natural source of calcium and other elements, like strontium and fluorine. An Argentinian study conducted in 2013 discovered that the shell of a single chicken egg contained about two grams of calcium, roughly twice the average daily adult requirement. Although it could be added to several types of food such as pizza, scientists say that those who practice this should take extreme precaution, since the eggs could have originated from anywhere and the level of impurities present could be unknown. (source)
7. In parts of Africa and the Middle East, people consume clay, which helps with zinc deficiency.
In some parts of Africa and the Middle East, the practice of eating soil or its components is known as geophagy. Some people even convert clay into tablet forms for daily consumption; according to Rick Wilson, director of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College Hospital. He explains that zinc deficiency is the main reason behind this unusual practice, which mainly affects underdeveloped countries.
Scientists say that if the clay is not food-grade quality, it can cause serious issues since it can contain the presence of lead. Dr. Sarah Jarvis of the Jeremy Vine show explains that the behavior is also seen in pregnant women who crave dirt, clay or charcoal if their bodies are deficient in key minerals. (source)
8. Dandelions are rich in vitamin C, A and K, antioxidants, and they’re a great source of potassium and iron.
For centuries, dandelions have been used to treat a myriad of physical ailments as well as used in preparation of certain dishes. According to HealthLine, they are highly nutritious, and can be eaten raw or cooked. The stubborn weed that grows in our backyard is known to be an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K, vitamin E, folate and small amounts of other B vitamins. Their roots are rich in the carbohydrate inulin, which is a type of soluble fiber found in plants. In several cultures, they are dried and consumed as a tea or eaten in its whole form. (source)
9. In several countries, flowers are used to add color and flavor to salads, pasta, cakes and even cheese. Chamomile, carnations, cornflowers, pansies, sweet peas and primulas, are a host of varieties that can be used to brighten up dishes.
In countries such as Italy, edible flowers are used to prepare salads, pasta and even cheese. Carnations, roses, and lavender are just a few of the types that are edible and safe to consume. In Southeast Asia, a flowering vine known as kudzu is used to treat ailments as well as to help with digestive issues. According to WebMD, kudzu contains certain ingredients that are known to help with various illnesses. (source)
10. Chalk, which is a natural substance and non-toxic in its pure form, is calcium carbonate. Some people eat it regularly, usually because of a condition called pica.
Sometimes, people crave for non-food items, which is a result of a mineral deficiency. Those with the eating disorder called “pica”, feel the need to eat non-food items such as chalk, pebbles or anything they can find. Pica got its name from the Latin word for magpie, a bird that eats just about anything. The eating disorder that involves the consumption of substances that have little or no nutritional value, affects 10-30% of the human population. It is the most common eating disorder and is treatable with the right help. (source)