Avoiding Fish and Mollusks With Toxic Flesh

In a survivalist situation it might be necessary to start fishing to find food to survive. However this can be challenging because if you are in the wild there are no real rules that can help you tell edible fish from those that are poisonous.


However if a fish is going to be poisonous it is most likely to be living in shallow water around reefs or lagoons. The most poisonous fish also have boxy or round bodies with hard shell-like skins that are covered with bony plates and spines.  A mouth like a parrot, small gills or no belly fins might also mean that the fish is poisons.


Many fish that feed off tropical reefs are poisonous because they carry ciguatera which is a toxin that lives in the coral they feed from. Avoid fish taken from beaches with crushed coral bottoms.


Most poisonous fish also tend to live on the leeward side of an island. Usually there are patches of living corals mixed with open sea. This is usually the type of off-shore hang out of poison fish.


If the water seems discoloured do not try to catch and eat the fish swimming in it.  This can indicated that toxic plankton has taken over the water.


Fish in the windward side of or in deep passages.  It is the deep water fish that are usually not poisonous.


Even though they look a bit like snails and seem like that are delicious you should never eat any type of animal that lives in a cone shell. Toxins from these can paralyse you.  You should never pick one up because if it stings you can suffer from weakness, loss of coordination, numbness and other severe problems.


If you are in the Caribbean or Florida and fishing for octopus you should avoid a creature called The Blue Ringed Octopus.  This octopus bites and its venom contains tetrodotoxin that blocks sodium channels and causes respiratory failure.  You can identify this octopus by the fact that it is normally a dark yellowish brown but when it is disturbed the octopus develops blue rings.


If you are in tropical waters at the other end of the world you should also avoid the stone fish. This is one of the most venomous of fish. It looks exactly a stone. It is perfectly camouflaged against a rock.  If it stings you it is fatal.

Gathering Wild Arrowroot

If you are gathering wild edibles to make a survivalist meal in Florida or moist southern climates in the Caribbean then look around for arrowroot.  It is also called Bermuda or Florida arrow root (largely and also araru, or ararao.)  It was also cultivated in the West Indies, Southeast Asia and in Africa. It is an ancient crop that has been grown for about seven thousand years. Sometimes it is also called Indian Bread Root or Wild Sago.


It is classified as a large perennial herb and is about two feet high with small white flowers and fruits that look like currants.  The rootstocks are ready when the plant is a year old.  A good healthy root is ready to eat when it is one year old and about a foot in length. They are yellow to white in color and covered with loose scales.  The root also usually has lots of joints and fingers. They are also covered with loose scales that are removed  with scrubbing before you consume it.


To harvest grasp the plant at the base and then pull it up. Cut the tubers from the stems of the plant and dig the tuber out of the ground.  Shake the dirt off the tuber well.


The arrowroot has been commercially turned into starch for years. It is 23% starch in composition.  It is ground into a pulp and then dried and turned into a powder and sold as a starch for baking.  In fact, arrowroot biscuits are a favourite treat in Britain.


If you boil arrowroot you can easily make a type of gel or custard. It can also be good for thickening sauces or stews.


One thing to note about it is that it does not mix well with any type of dairy product. The dairy will not mix with the arrowroot and it will have a curdled appearance.


If you are gathering it wild be aware that unless ground and saturated in water and drained it can be very hard on the gastrointestinal tract. Be sure to soak it well and grind it up so that it is easy on the digestive system.


Another reason that this is such a good survivalist food is because they keep so well. They are best stored with other root crops like beets, potatoes, yams and parsnips. They can keep in a well ventilated environment for a bout ten weeks.