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Lichens: A Survival Food That’s Probably Growing in Your Backyard

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Lichens: A Survival Food That's Probably Growing in Your Backyard
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Lichens: A Survival Food That's Probably Growing in Your Backyard
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Lichens are a common wild edible, but if you’re not paying attention you might miss them. They usually grow on trees and rocks and have a distinctive appearance similar to a flat, leafy plant. However, they are a unique form of plant related to the algae family. What makes lichens unique is that most algae require fresh water or salt water to survive and thrive. Lichens are a terrestrial form of algae.

Lichens have been on Earth for billions of years and are one of the oldest forms of life on the plant. Equally surprising is the fact that some lichens can be hundreds if not thousands of years old. These elder lichens typically grow on rocks, boulders and cliff faces. Lichens that grow on trees are never older than the tree itself but even then, some trees live for hundreds of years.

Here’s the dictionary definition of a lichen according to the U.S. Forest Service:

Lichens are dual organisms consisting of a fungus and an alga or a cyanobacterium. The fungus provides the alga with structure, protection, nutrients, and water absorbed from the atmosphere and the substrate (e.g., soil, rotten logs, tree branches). In return, the alga provides carbohydrates from photosynthesis to the fungus. Algae from some lichens grow independently of the fungus, but in lichen form, the algae can inhabit more challenging environments than when growing alone.

Blue Green Lichen That's Safe To Eat

Blue Green Lichen That's Safe To Eat

Lichen Edibility versus Lichen Toxicity

There’s good news in lichen land. Out of the 20,000 or more species that grow across North America, only a few lichens are truly toxic. This is in stark contrast to wild mushrooms. Out of the 10,000 species of wild mushrooms across the North American continent, 96% of them are toxic with 4% of that number falling into the poisonous and deadly category. That means only 400 out of 10,000 wild mushrooms are safe to eat.

Lichens are largely benign and won’t harm you, but there are few to watch out for. Any lichens that have a yellowish or orange color are toxic to varying degrees.

Yellow Toxic Orange Lichen

Yellow Toxic Orange Lichen

The two most toxic examples include Vulpacida pinastri and the other is called Letharia vulpina. Their common names are the Powdered Sunshine Lichen and the Wolf Lichen. If you’re not an expert on all lichen identification, just play it safe and stay away from the yellow and orange ones.

So, What’s a Good Lichen Look Like?

Good lichens that are safe to eat have a bluish to blue/green color. They can appear with all shades of these colors:

Safe to Eat Blue Green Lichen

Safe to Eat Blue Green Lichen

Safe to Eat Blue Green Lichen

Safe to Eat Blue Green Lichen

Unfortunately, even some of these safe-to-eat lichens can be surrounded by the toxic, yellow and orange lichens.

Lichen Surrounded by Toxic Lichens

Lichen Surrounded by Toxic Lichens

Basic Lichen Identification

Lichens fall into one of three broad categories defined by their shape and appearance according to the U.S. Forest Service:

1. Foliose (leaf-like)

Foliose (leaf-like)
Foliose (leaf-like) Image via U.S. Forest Service

2. Fruticose (shrub-like)

Fruticose (shrub-like)
Fruticose (shrub-like) Image via U.S. Forest Service

3. Crustose (growing closely attached to a surface)

Image via U.S. Forest Service

Who Would Eat a Lichen?

You might be surprised by the answer to that question. Certainly, people in a wilderness survival situation would consider lichens as part of their survival menu, but it goes well beyond that.

Chef René Redzepi of the Noma restaurant in Copenhagen features lichens as a central part of his cuisine. In case you don’t know, Chef Redzepi is considered to be the top chef in the world by numerous publications and culinary organizations. If lichens are good enough for the best chef in the world, they’re good enough for the rest of us.

Lichens are particularly important in a wilderness survival situation. They are a year-round source of food 365 days a year. While lichens alone won’t sustain you in a survival situation, they should definitely be a part of your wilderness menu.

What Does a Lichen Taste Like?

Safe to Eat Blue Green Lichen

Safe to Eat Blue Green Lichen

A raw lichen right off the tree or rock will have the consistency of a rubber inner-tube and many will taste highly acidic if not down-right astringent. That’s not very encouraging, but there are some simple steps to make lichens palatable.

The first step is to soak the lichens in vinegar for 30 minutes. Vinegar is a powerful antiseptic and most lichens have had years and years to accumulate all matter of debris, microbes, and dust carried on the winds.

The second step is to soak the lichens in numerous water changes. They’re usually immersed in a bowl of cold water and held down with a plate. After 6 hours the water is changed, and this is repeated until a little nibble doesn’t taste bitter. A tablespoon of baking soda can also be added to neutralize the acids.

The third step is to boil and shock the lichens. The lichens are gently boiled in water for 10 minutes and then removed with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water. The result is prepped lichens that are ready to eat as an ingredient in a soup, a topping for a wild green salad of dandelion and plantain leaves, tossed over pasta, or even quickly deep-fried for lichen chips. We’ll cover some of these recipes later in this article.

Another approach is a Japanese technique which involves gently boiling them with frequent water changes. This will result in a lichen that is quite gelatinous. In case you’re wondering, “gelatinous” means slimy similar to the slime you see when you boil okra or cactus. In fact, a little lichen boiled in a broth will yield a hearty and velvety soup with a texture approaching a gravy.

Many people in Africa, Native Americans, and our pioneer ancestors used lichens as a thickening agent for a variety of foods. Pioneers used the gelatin from lichens to thicken not only soups but as a replacement for gelatin in jams and jellies.

The Scandinavians soak and dry lichens and grind them into a flour to be added to wheat flour or pine bark flour for baking.

In a survival situation, you may have limited resources and boiling lichens in water may be as ambitious as you can get.

Large blue green lichen

Large blue green lichen

Harvesting Lichens

Tools for lichen collecting include two types of knives. A sharp knife like a buck knife and a serrated knife for sawing through bark for a well-entrenched lichen. A one-gallon plastic ziplock bag or two for carrying your lichens and garden gloves is also important. In a survival situation, you can just pull them off the tree, but you might tear more than a few if you don’t have a knife to cut them off at the base.

Older trees present the most lichens, and remember to look both at the base and above your head. To remove a lichen, gently grab the lichen by the edges and use your knife to find the root attached to the tree and cut. You’ll probably get some bits of bark and they should be carefully removed when harvesting and again after soaking in water.

Lichen on rocks are easier to remove but you may still need a knife to cut it loose. You also want to make sure you scrape away any bits of rock or sand from the back of the lichen. If you’ve ever eaten a sandy sandwich on the beach, you’ll be sure to make sure any grit is gone.

In a survival situation, you may only have water or at least boiling water to prepare any lichen. In this case, look for lichens growing on a tree and ideally under a large, over-hanging branch. It may have had less exposure to the elements in this kind of environment as opposed to lichens growing on rocks.

Lichen Nutrition Facts

You may be surprised to learn that lichens are loaded with nutrients, minerals, and micronutrients. Lichens offer many of the benefits of a form of algae known as “spirulina.” Lichens also present vitamins like Vitamin-K, Vitamin-C, carbohydrates, and a decent calorie count based on size.

Adding lichens to your other survival food gathering, like the internal layers of tree-bark, is a good idea, especially when you consider that so many lichens grow on the external bark of trees.

Lichen Recipes

Lichen-Ramen Soup

Ramen Lichen Soup

Ramen Lichen Soup


  1. 1 package of Ramen noodles and the Ramen broth seasoning
  2. 2 cups of cold water
  3. 1 cup of lichens that have been soaked in water changes to remove the acids and then cut into thin strips
  4. 1 teaspoon of soy sauce or Teriyaki sauce


It’s important to soak the lichens in vinegar for 30 minutes and then put them through continuous water soaks with water changes until the lichens lose their astringent taste. Taste as you go. You can also add baking soda to speed up the process. You then add the two cups of water to your saucepan and the Ramen soup broth packet. Cut the lichens into strips, and once the water has come to boil, add the noodles and the lichen strips. Pour into bowls and serve.



  1. 1 quart of cold water
  2. 1 tablespoon of salt
  3. 12 ounces of pasta like elbow macaroni or spaghetti
  4. 3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin olive oil
  5. ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
  6. 1 cup of sliced lichens
  7. 1 tablespoon of parsley, oregano or Italian seasoning


Prep the lichens with a 30-minute soak in vinegar, followed by soaking in water and changing the water every six hours until the lichens lose their bitterness. A tablespoon of baking soda can speed up this process to neutralize the acids. Add the water and the salt to a pot and bring to a boil, and add the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta plate. Toss with the Extra Virgin olive oil and then top with the parmesan cheese, lichens and a sprinkle of your favorite herbs.

One Caution

Whenever you harvest a lichen, get on the Internet and identify the species. It’s good to get some knowledge and experience before you find yourself lost in the woods. The good news is that they’re not as dangerous from a toxic standpoint like mushrooms–but you never know. You should also not give them to children until an adult has tried it and had no side effects.

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4 No Cook Meals For Surviving The Pandemic And Food Supply Shortages

prosciutto avocado sandwich

When it comes to your food supply, you just can’t risk not having enough. These no cook meals will be a great addition to your food supply planning. Check out the recipes below!

No Cook Meals to Help You Through the Pandemic

As of the writing of this article, there are 20 meat processing plants that have been shut down due to COVID-19 infections. We have been worrying about these types of effects on our food supply for months now, and this is the first real sign of how infections can affect the food supply.

When you walk into a supermarket, you might not see all the choices you had in the past. An empty meat case is a humbling thing for your eyes to fall upon. It’s the shocking realization that the seemingly infinite supply of chickens, pigs, and cows that are butchered for us has begun to run dry!

To deal with this issue, we are going to present four no cook meals that will help you create dinners at home that will feed your family without worrying so much about what’s available, or unavailable, in the meat case.

1. Smashed White Bean, Avocado and Salted Pork Sandwiches

Smashed White Bean, Avocado and Salted Pork Sandwiches | No Cook Meals for Surviving the Pandemic and Food Supply Shortages

As preppers we get beans. There are a bunch of ways to use beans and this a great example of how you can pack a sandwich with great nutrition and protein.

Serving: Makes 4 sandwiches


  • Can of White Beans
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Avocado
  • 8 Slices of Whole Grain Bread
  • 8 Slices of Salted Pork (Prosciutto, Ham, Virginia Ham)


  • Begin by draining your beans in a colander then smashing them up in a bowl add a few glugs of olive oil, salt, pepper. This little mix is delicious. If you add some minced rosemary, you can even turn this into a delicious dip.
  • Pit your avocado and cut it in half and then quarters lengthwise. Leave the skin on.
  • Lay the bread out on a clean work surface for assembling the sandwiches.
  • Spread your mashed bean mix onto one side of the bread.
  • Peel your avocados and slice 1 quarter for each sandwich. Spread slices over the bean spread.
  • Add a few slices of your pork to over the top of the avocado.
  • You can finish this sandwich with some lettuces, fresh sprouts, or just eat it as is.

2. Delicious Crab Salad

Canned crab is a protein option that will likely be around through much of this meat crisis. It does have to be kept in refrigeration, but it’s delicious and this chipotle mayo salad is great in the spring and summer.


  • 1 Can of Crab Meat
  • 1 Bunch of Asparagus
  • Chipotle Mayo
  • 1 Bunch of Green Onions
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro


  • Drain your crab in a colander and set it in the sink.
  • Slice your asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Throw them into a bowl.
  • Thinly slice your onions and your cilantro and throw that into the bowl, as well.
  • Gently toss in the crab meat.
  • Squirt on enough Chipotle mayo to coat everything and toss gently not to break up the crab meat.
  • Chill in the fridge and serve.

3. Simple Greek Salad

Simple Greek Salad | No Cook Meals for Surviving the Pandemic and Food Supply Shortages

The combination of simple summer ingredients makes for an incredible quick salad that you could add other proteins, too, if you wanted. These could be canned meats.


  • 2 Large Tomatoes
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1 Red Onion
  • ¼ Cup of Feta Cheese
  • A Few Sprigs of Fresh Mint
  • ½ Cup of Kalamata Olives
  • Balsamic Dressing


  • I like to cut the tomatoes in large chunks and have them kind of be the main course in this salad. Peel and slice your cucumber in half. Remove the seeds and either dice or slice in half-moons.
  • Peel and slice your red onion in half. Julienne your, or thinly slice, your half onion.
  • Add all these ingredients to a bowl. Finely slice your mint.
  • Add your olives, crumbled feta, and mint to the bowl and add enough dressing to coat everything.
  • Stir it up and allow this to chill for at least an hour for the flavors to really blend.

4. Mediterranean Tuna Lettuce Wraps

Mediterranean Tuna Lettuce Wraps | No Cook Meals for Surviving the Pandemic and Food Supply Shortages

Using some similar ingredients and adding a protein like tuna, you can create some delicious lettuce wraps. The key to a good lettuce wrap is to have most of the items around the same size. So, consider that when you are preparing this dish.


  • Iceberg or Butter Lettuce
  • Canned Artichokes
  • Canned roasted Red peppers
  • Fresh Cucumber
  • Feta Cheese
  • Minced Olives ¼ Cup
  • 2 Cans of Tuna
  • Green Onions
  • Basil


  • Start by peeling all the full leaves from your lettuce. Set them on a plate either cover them with a wet paper towel or put them back into the fridge.
  • Dice the peppers, artichokes, and cucumbers into cubes. Go no larger than ½ an inch.
  • Thinly slice your green onions and basil and add them to a bowl with your diced vegetables. Add your loves to this bowl and mix them thoroughly.
  • Crumble your feta cheese over the mixture.
  • Drain your tuna thoroughly and then add that to the bowl, as well.
  • Gently toss this mixture. Try not to break up the tuna and the cheese too much but incorporate it thoroughly.
  • If you want, you can add some olive oil to the mix or a few glugs of balsamic vinegar. It’s also delicious just how it is.
  • Scoop a few tablespoons into a lettuce leaf, wrap it up and eat up!

These no cook meals should help lessen the stress you feel when thinking of what to feed your family. If you don’t have the specific ingredients, use your creativity, and use what you have. You might discover a new recipe while you’re at it!

What’s your favorite no cook meal recipe? Please share it with us in the comments section!

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Billionaire Whistle Blower: Wuhan Coronavirus Death Toll Is Over 50,000

  1. Exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui recently revealed leaks from Wuhan crematoriums. He claims based on the number of bodies their furnaces are burning, the death toll could be as high as 50,000.

A Chinese billionaire and whistleblower who lives in U.S. exile says Wuhan crematoriums have burned 50,000 coronavirus victims. | Credit: Chinatopix via AP

  • The official coronavirus death toll in China is a little over 800. But an exiled Chinese businessman says crematoriums are leaking the real figure.
  • A billionaire whistleblower alleges Wuhan has crematoriums working 24/7. He claims they’ve cremated some 50,000 coronavirus victims.
  • Guo Wengui is a Chinese billionaire living in exile in the United States.

The official coronavirus death toll is some 800 people in China. The current official death toll worldwide, outside of China, is 774. But a Chinese billionaire with a history of blowing the whistle on his former government says the real figure is much higher.

Exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui recently revealed leaks from Wuhan crematoriums. He claims based on the number of bodies their furnaces are burning, the death toll could be as high as 50,000. Wengui made the bombshell allegations in an interview with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.


Whistleblower: 1.5 Million Coronavirus Cases In China, 50,000 Coronavirus Deaths In Wuhan


He also claims to have inside information that there are 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases in China. Wengui is emphatic that these are not merely quarantined or “under observation” but confirmed cases of coronavirus infection:


China has struggled to contain the coronavirus. But it has also struggled to contain public outcry against censorship and tight control of information. Dr. Li Wenliang, who sounded the alarm about the disease, succumbed to an infection and died this week. The Chinese government arrested him for blowing the whistle.

Then officials tried to suppress news of his death. Afterwards, millions of Chinese citizens saw the hashtag #IWantFreedomOfSpeech on Mandarin language social media. But the Chinese government censored that too.

Are Wengui’s Crematorium Claims Credible?

Watch VICE’s 2017 profile on Guo Wengui. At the time, he published bombshell documents alleging corruption in the Chinese government. He got the attention of the media and reportedly the U.S. State Department.


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5 Types Of Ammunition To Stockpile For A Collapse


Every prepper knows it’s a great idea to stockpile ammunition when preparing for a major disaster.

You can use it for hunting, self-defense, or barter.

But which types of ammo should you stockpile?

If you plan on bartering, then you don’t want a bunch of calibers that nobody wants. And that’s just one consideration.

In this video, Reality Survival & Prepping talks about what he thinks are the 5 best types of ammunition to stockpile for a collapse.

Here are his picks:

  1. .22 LR – Very common, good for hunting small game, very light and small.
  2. 9mm Luger – Great for self-defense, fits in a wide variety of handguns.
  3. 5.56×45mm or .223 Remington – Also very common, cheap and effective.
  4. .308 Winchester – Widely used, works in AR10 and bolt-action platforms.
  5. 12 Gauge – You can do a lot with it — hunt, defend yourself, etc.

In the video below he makes a much more detailed case for each caliber. What do you think of this list?

This article first appeared on See it here


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