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Can a human live, temporarily, on grass?


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#1 dstebbins

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 10:49 AM

If you're lost in the wilderness with no clue where you are or where the nearest civilization is, can you eat grass for sustenance until help arrives?
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#2 Greippi

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 01:08 PM

We can't digest the cellulose in grass on our own (but commensal organisms in our gut can, releasing some nutrients for us).
However, by eating grass, it is likely that this will cause a stomach upset, causing you to lose vital nutrients and fluid and putting you in an even worse situation than you would have been if you hadn't eaten the grass.


Of course there are some plants in the wilderness that will be edible so if you think you're going to get lost in the wilderness, it is worth looking these up!
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#3 CharonY

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Posted 1 June 2010 - 04:14 PM

The biota in humans is not well equipped to effectively provide nutrients to humans. The microbial community responsible for that in grass eating animals is highly specialized and the animals in question provide the necessary environment for those to develop. Humans would starve to death by eating grass as they are low on nutrients that one can actually utilize.
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#4 Double K

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Posted 2 June 2010 - 02:27 AM

You would be better off eating insects, they contain more protein weight for weight than a steak.
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#5 CharonY

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Posted 4 June 2010 - 05:15 PM

I would find that surprising. By a rough estimate insects should have around 20-30% protein content (dry weight). Steaks easily rival that levels.
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#6 John Cuthber

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Posted 4 June 2010 - 05:34 PM

If the grass is sugar cane, rice, maize, wheat, oats... then you can eat it.
Bamboo shoots anyone?
There are some grasses that are poisonous, on the other hand a lot of grasses have seeds with a high starch content and a fair protein content.
If you found the right grass it might hold off starvation for at least a while.
Make sure that you get stranded with a botanist who specialises in grasses.
I have not checked, but I suspect the insect/ steak comparison is right if you don't dry them first.
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#7 Zolar V

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Posted 4 June 2010 - 07:44 PM

If you're lost in the wilderness with no clue where you are or where the nearest civilization is, can you eat grass for sustenance until help arrives?


Yes you can eat several different types of grasses to sustain yourself in an emergency situation.

However grass alone will not keep you from dieing as it would be similar to you only eating Broccoli (no water or anything). Thus if you were lost there is ALOT more than just grass that you can eat. there are wild berries, you can make snares and pit traps for local wildlife, and as previously stated Insects are a wonderful source of sustenance.

Insects are the BEST source of protein known to man, as in better than a steak.
IMO if i had the choice between 2 lb steak and 2 lb insects (no water ) i would choose insects because an insect contains enough moisture to digest it without your body using any water. Steak does not. ^1

being lost in the wilderness isn't so much about "Finding" food its about thinking and knowing what there is to eat, If you dropped me in the middle of the woods or a desert or anywhere really i could find food/shelter/water.

Its all there you just have to have the knowledge to survive.

1)
"Insects

The most abundant life-form on earth, insects are easily caught. Insects provide 65 to 80 percent protein compared to 20 percent for beef. This fact makes insects an important, if not overly appetizing, food source. Insects to avoid include all adults that sting or bite, hairy or brightly colored insects, and caterpillars and insects that have a pungent odor. Also avoid spiders and common disease carriers such as ticks, flies, and mosquitoes.

Rotting logs lying on the ground are excellent places to look for a variety of insects including ants, termites, beetles, and grubs, which are beetle larvae. Do not overlook insect nests on or in the ground. Grassy areas, such as fields, are good areas to search because the insects are easily seen. Stones, boards, or other materials lying on the ground provide the insects with good nesting sites. Check these sites. Insect larvae are also edible. Insects such as beetles and grasshoppers that have a hard outer shell will have parasites. Cook them before eating. Remove any wings and barbed legs also. You can eat most insects raw. The taste varies from one species to another. Wood grubs are bland, while some species of ants store honey in their bodies, giving them a sweet taste. You can grind a collection of insects into a paste. You can mix them with edible vegetation. You can cook them to improve their taste. "

http://www.wildernes....net/food-1.php

"Mammals are excellent protein sources and, for Americans, the most tasty food source. There are some drawbacks to obtaining mammals. In a hostile environment, the enemy may detect any traps or snares placed on land. The amount of injury an animal can inflict is in direct proportion to its size."

emphasis mine, i LOL'ed really hard at that.

Edited by Zolar V, 4 June 2010 - 07:52 PM.

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#8 Moontanman

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Posted 4 June 2010 - 11:44 PM

I'm curious, why would you avoid spiders? Big spiders are said to taste like crab. I have my doubts about the insects vs steak thing but lost in the wilderness steaks are fairly hard to come by... Fish are fairly easy to catch and small fish like minnows can be eaten whole. Earth worms are a good bet for food but ants can contain formic acid and are difficult for humans to tolerate.

I've tried wood grubs, they taste like shrimp but are difficult to extract from wood with out an axe. Earth worms are nasty in consitancy but don't have much taste. Crayfish are good cooked in some way but are not good raw and can contain parisites. Shellfish are good and even deep inland freshwater clams are quite common and can be cooked in hot ashes. Not many creatures are truely inedible if you have...

http://www.sciencefo...9&pictureid=997

In the wilderness being able to make fire is probably the most important thing, many things that are inedible or not worth eating raw can be a decent food source if cooked. The broth from boiled grass would be better than nothing. Learn to make fire from scratch would be my advice to any human being.
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#9 Double K

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Posted 5 June 2010 - 10:00 AM

If you want to see more about what you can and cant survive on, in pretty much any landscape, I really recommend the Man vs Wild series.
The guy is ex british S.A.S. (special forces) and a survival specialist...
it's very interesting to watch too, I love watching it and there are some gold moments like this one...
Moontanman I reckon you'd love this series too

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#10 Genecks

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Posted 5 June 2010 - 11:14 AM

Special Forces manuals and Boy Scouts manuals are also good reads.

My late uncle left his special forces manual he got while serving as a green beret in Vietnam. I've looked through it a couple of times. It has a lot of interesting stuff in it.

I think one of the more interesting things I got from the Man vs. Wild show was how the host tied a shirt to his legs, walked through the grass as the shirt passed through the grass, and then squeezed water out of the shirt into his mouth in order to collect water. Keep in mind that digestion of fiber requires water, so if you were just eating grass, you would dehydrate.

In general, you would want to attempt to avoid basic, green grass. Attempt to find bugs, non-poisonous bugs at that. Or start learning to throw rocks at birds and other small animals. That's another useful skill.
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#11 Moontanman

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Posted 6 June 2010 - 08:58 PM

If you want to see more about what you can and cant survive on, in pretty much any landscape, I really recommend the Man vs Wild series.
The guy is ex british S.A.S. (special forces) and a survival specialist...
it's very interesting to watch too, I love watching it and there are some gold moments like this one...
Moontanman I reckon you'd love this series too


At one time there were two or three of these survival type shows, They were pretty cool.
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#12 hwiser09

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 06:50 AM

If I really don't have an option, I would not mind taking it rather than taking nothing and still risking your life.
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