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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 9/6/2010 4:52:57 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/15/2010 5:09:18 PM EDT by Gunwritr]
Here's an old article I just came across I thought some might find of interest......

SEASHORE FORAGING



By
David M. Fortier

What would you do to survive? If cast into a seemingly hopeless situation how would you react? Would you lose heart, or would you steadfastly explore any and all possibilities no matter how foreign they may seem? Few can honestly answer this question without having found out the hard way. One man who faced this question was a sailor from Ireland named Patrick Walton. Shipwrecked on the shores of a foreign land far from home he found himself struggling to merely stay alive. Reduced to simply trying to gather enough food to survive each day, he remained steadfast in his determination to live. One day after noticing seabirds congregating in some nearby tidal flats, he set to work planting wooden poles there. With the poles planted, he stretched some salvaged nets between them in an attempt to trap some of the birds for food. As time went by he noticed that a specific type of mollusk was growing in clusters on the posts. After some contemplation he gathered some of the dark, clam like objects up and cooked them. Cautiously popping one into his mouth he was delighted to find it not only edible, but that it tasted great. Grinning he hungrily devoured his meal content in the knowledge that food was no longer a daily crisis.

The seashore can seem like a hostile, desolate, barren wasteland. To the person stranded there, or in need of help, the landscape can be both bleak and depressing. But it's an illusion. The Ocean teams with life, and so does the shore that it crashes against. You simply need to understand what your looking at. Living in Maine has given me ample opportunity to find this out first hand. With a coastline longer than even California's, Maine's rugged shore offers many lessons to those interested in learning. You simply need to see the seashore for what it is. The person who finds themselves in a survival situation there needs to understand that while it may look bleak, opportunity abounds.
Usually when one thinks of foraging for food some specific images come to mind. Hunting for small game animals, such as squirrels, with a .22 rifle may be one. Stalking larger animals such as deer or moose may be another. Or you may think of gathering edible plants growing wild, like berries or roots. All very good. The seashore, due to its own unique ecological system, offers the hungry individual many choices that are not available elsewhere. Food may found on the shore in many different guises, from periwinkles to crabs to seagulls. The trick is simply knowing what's available for dinner!

Patrick Walton, the Irish sailor mentioned earlier, stumbled across an excellent food source, the Mussel. The common Sea Mussel, found attached to rocks on the shores of Europe and America, is widely used as food and fishing bait. A bivalve marine mollusk closely related to oysters and scallops, the Mussel resembles a dark shelled clam. They are called 'filibranchiates' which means that the filaments, or branches, of their gills have interlocking bunches of hairlike Cilia. They are found around the world in both salt and fresh water varieties, the salt water mussels are not only edible but nutritious and tasty as well. Often seen as an expensive appetizer on restaurant menus, mussels were a staple of many Native American tribes. They not only provided food to eat, but their shells were used as tools and as a cutting edge on weapons. Today they are commercially farmed around the world for their food value.

America is a relative newcomer to the idea of farming seafood. Aquaculture has been practiced in the Far East since at least 500 B.C., and oyster culture was recorded by the early Greeks and Romans. France began its mussel cultivation by accident, when Patrick planted those poles in an attempt to catch seabirds. He did that over 700 years ago after being shipwrecked in the 13th Century. Today there are over 700 miles of mussel poles dotting the coast of France. Oak poles are placed in long rows some three feet apart. They are located on intertidal mudflats where they and the mussels that grow on them are exposed at low tide. The mussels can then be easily harvested. Spain cultivates mussels too, albeit in a slightly different manner. They use large rafts from which are hung approximately 700 ropes 30 feet in length. The mussels then grow clinging to these ropes. They began this practice in 1901 in Tarragona on the Mediterranean coast. Today this method has the highest yield of any mussel operation in the world, up to 300,000 pounds of meat per acre! The largest harvester of mussels in the world is China, with Spain ranked second, the United States 12th, and Canada ranking 19th. In all there are 17 species of edible mussels worldwide, of which most are being cultivated for human consumption.

So what does this mean for the person on the shore? Simply that there may be an abundant food supply right at their feet. Mussels grow in large numbers in beds and are usually easily harvested by simply picking them up at low tide. Yes that's right, by simply picking them up. The composition of mussel beds are around 90% mussels, the other 10% being a variety of other species living in and on the colonies. Kelp uses the shells as anchors, barnacles settle in, shrimp and small fish make feeding excursions to and from the beds. Starfish and green crabs make meals of the mussels, as do seagulls. Sea cucumbers, periwinkles, and other creatures find mussel neighborhoods to their liking. Many of these other inhabitants may also be tossed into the food pot.

A walk along the shore at low tide will allow you to scout for mussels. They tend to like rocky areas that they can fasten themselves onto in bunches. No special tools or equipment are needed, except for something to carry them in. Often they can be pulled up in clumps, other times they can be picked up out of the water singularly. Unlike game animals you don't have to stalk them, with uncertain results. Plus you'll never have a wounded one charge you. They don't migrate, so time of year is not an issue. Also whereas berries, fruits, vegetables, and roots are not available year round in many northern areas, mussels are. You can gather them in winter as well as summer, the only difference is the temperature you have to gather them in.

One thing to keep in mind when harvesting mussels is that they are filter feeders. A 2 1/2 inch mussel generally filters about 15 gallons of water a day looking for food. A quarter of the food mussels eat is living organisms, the rest is detritus-dead organic matter. Just one liter of sea water contains 10 to 20 million edible bits for mussels to graze on. However because they are filter feeders care must be taken to gather them away from areas with steady commercial boat traffic or pollution. Studies have shown that mussels are severely affected by chemical pollutants. It is interesting to note though that mussels are not immobile. They do possess a foot and if the water quality in their location does drop significantly they can release their byssus threads and crawl slowly away. However as they are filter feeders they should not be eaten raw.

Once you have collected a quantity of mussels what do you do with them? First wash them off, you can use seawater to do this. Next sort through the mussels you have collected and discard any dead ones, or broken shelled ones. Also discard any heavy mud filled mussels. One pound of mussels in the shell will yield 3.5 ounces of raw meat. So if you gather approximately 5 pounds of mussels per person, an easy task, you will have over a pound of meat each. The simplest and most common way of cooking mussels is to simply steam them. This is relatively quick and easy to do and can be accomplished over a fire made from drift wood using seawater. Simply cook them until their shells open. However this method does require a pot or kettle, and you may not have the luxury of having one in every situation. If you have some metal available to make a grill out of you can actually barbecue them. To do this, start a fire and let it burn down to medium hot coals. Then place your grill about four inches above the coals. Place the mussels on the grill in one even layer. Cover, if possible, and cook for about five minutes. Remove them from the heat when their shells are open and the meat pulls away from the shell. This is a great way to cook mussels if you have some salsa to dip them in.

What about if you have absolutely nothing to prepare food with or on? Your stranded on a beach, cold wet and hungry. The only things you have are your clothes and a fire source. What do you do? First relax, many, many people have been in the same situation and survived. I would suggest first gathering a large quantity of driftwood, and then some rocks. The oldest method of preparing mussels, dating from the colonial time-period, calls for excavating a shallow pit in the sand. This can easily be accomplished using nothing more than your hands and a little exertion. Then line the inside of the pit with rocks. The idea being that the rocks will absorb the heat from the fire you will build on top of them and slow cook your food. Carefully choose some tinder and kindling and build your fire. Take your time on this and do it right, no fire means no heat, no hot food, no rescue signal, and no lifting of the spirits that a fire naturally gives. Once lit keep it going and let it burn to heat the rocks until they are red hot. As the fire is burning collect your mussels. Also collect a large quantity of seaweed or rockweed. Place this on top of the rocks after they have reached the proper temperature and you have let the fire burn down. Then place your mussels and any other food that you may have gathered on top of this bed of wet seaweed. Food can include periwinkles, clams, fish, seagulls, potatoes, etc.. Cover your food items with additional sea or rockweed that is very wet. You may want to place a stone or two on top to keep everything in place. This may now be covered over with sand, however remember to mark the spot! The idea is to use the heat from the rocks and the moisture from the seaweed to steam cook the food. The mussels will be properly cooked when their shells open. While this takes some time, it also allows you to work on other projects while your meal is cooking. One word of caution, make sure that you dig your pit far enough away from the water that the incoming tide won't cover it!

What about after the meal is cooked and you've sat back and ate until you were contentedly full? Mussels may be easy to gather, simple to cook, and taste quite good, but what does your body get out of a meal of them? Surprisingly, they actually provide a substantial amount of nutrition. They actually contain more protein than T-bone steak, with only one quarter of the calories and almost no fat. According to the Food and Drug Administration's criteria, mussels are an extra lean meat. Not only that but seafood dramatically reduces the risk of cardiac arrest. Omega-3, a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid, is found primarily in seafood. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Oct. 1995) found: "An intake of 5.5 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids per month was associated with a 50% reduction in the risk of primary cardiac arrest." When it comes to Omega-3, mussels have more of it than any other shellfish. An interesting side note is the fact that one acre of farmed mussels can yield three tons of mussels per year. This is more protein than that produced by an acre of soybeans.

As your happily digesting your food stop and take a look at the shells you've discarded. Remember in a survival situation there is no such thing as trash, seashells are a very useful resource material. They are very hard and can make excellent projectile points and cutting edges. Native Americans of the Northwest were known to tip harpoons with mussel shells. For the man on the beach without a knife, knowing that seashells can be incredibly sharp when freshly broken may be invaluable. While they are not suitable for chisel like work, they are a little too brittle for that, they can work extremely well for many cutting tasks. To work seashells you can score and snap it to form blanks. You may even be able to score and snap it in the same manner that you would a piece of flint. However the best way to work seashells is to simply abrade them on a rock. To do this, rub the shell against course grained stones. By varying the grain of the rock and using water with the finest grained abrading stone, you will be able to create a very fine finish and some surprisingly sharp edges and points. If you need to perforate the shell, as for the eye of a needle, incise a groove in each side of the blank and work at making them deeper until they finally meet in the middle.

The mussels you collect can also be used as bait. You can remove some mussels from their shells and use them to try to catch other animals for food. They can be used as bait attached to a handline for catching fish or crabs. Seagulls will often be seen picking up mussels and dropping them onto rocks to break them open. Scavengers, they would be an obvious target for the hungry survivor. A line can have a simple hook attached and baited with a mussel and put out for a hungry gull to take it. There are many possibilities, simply use your imagination.

Patrick Walton was shipwrecked in the 13th Century on the shores of France. Yet due to his determination and willingness to adapt to his surroundings he not only survived but prospered. A small black mollusk, the mussel, enabled him to do this. For the person foraging for food on the seashore mussels can provide a filling meal, nutrients, and useful tools. They are simple to collect, easy to cook, and taste good. For the person foraging for food far from the smell of sea air, Patrick's example of steadfast determination and adaptation is a good example to remember. No matter your location, remember that others have faced similar circumstances (and much worse) and survived. Keep your wits, use your head, adapt to your surroundings and you will too.


For More Information on Mussels:
Great Eastern Mussel Farms at
WWW.EATMUSSELS.COM






Link Posted: 9/6/2010 4:55:58 PM EDT
We have some good ones out here.
Link Posted: 9/6/2010 7:47:58 PM EDT
Thanks for the article! In it you write, "They are found around the world in both salt and fresh water varieties, the salt water mussels are not only edible but nutritious and tasty as well."
What about the freshwater mussles? Are they OK to eat? We here in Arizona are being invaded by the "Zebra mussle" and was wondering if they are a viable food source.
KB
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 8:23:05 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/7/2010 8:25:00 AM EDT by TimJ]
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 11:33:40 AM EDT
30 years ago we would dig butter clams or mussels and use them for bait,fishing off the shore on puget sound, if we got skunked we would boil the bait for dinner.

I was on the john day river this summer and found clams in it?, how do clams get up river?, it seams the the current would wash all descendants down?
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 12:04:52 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 1:45:25 PM EDT
I grew up on the coast of Maine. My father was a machinist, but he came from a fishing family, and so did my mother. Seafood was a way of life. Once in a great while - and by that I mean every couple years, my Mom would cook a couple huge mussels and periwinkles. They just weren't eaten back then. Considered poorman's food. heck, when my folks were kids, lobster was considered poorman's food.

Nowadays, I see them for sale in the markets. Funny how times change.

One thing that I am curious about: freshwater clams.

My father always told us they wasn't any good. I can't remember anyone ever eating them when I was a kid, or even declaring them to be edible. In 1976 I joined the USAF, and since then, I'm retired from it, I have never returned to Maine to live. I've made NH my home now, and since living here for 20 years, I have met some folks off and on who swear that freshwater clams are the shit. Has anyone ever had them? Am I simply the victim of a regional paragidm?
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 2:21:33 PM EDT
i'd love to know too as a mainer by birth.
Originally Posted By Kibby:
I grew up on the coast of Maine. My father was a machinist, but he came from a fishing family, and so did my mother. Seafood was a way of life. Once in a great while - and by that I mean every couple years, my Mom would cook a couple huge mussels and periwinkles. They just weren't eaten back then. Considered poorman's food. heck, when my folks were kids, lobster was considered poorman's food.

Nowadays, I see them for sale in the markets. Funny how times change.

One thing that I am curious about: freshwater clams.

My father always told us they wasn't any good. I can't remember anyone ever eating them when I was a kid, or even declaring them to be edible. In 1976 I joined the USAF, and since then, I'm retired from it, I have never returned to Maine to live. I've made NH my home now, and since living here for 20 years, I have met some folks off and on who swear that freshwater clams are the shit. Has anyone ever had them? Am I simply the victim of a regional paragidm?


Link Posted: 9/7/2010 2:57:36 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 3:03:10 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/7/2010 3:20:01 PM EDT by TheRedGoat]
I am going to write an article on paragraph usage in a post SHTF world. It will be called, "How to survive and still use paragraphs to convey a message."

It will be followed with an article on how to hotlink, the use of bold, and bulletted list.

I saw some mussels in a creek while I was hog hunting yesterday. I was curious how to find them in freshwater as well.

TRG
Link Posted: 9/11/2010 5:59:39 PM EDT
I remember reading this article in ASG. when it came out. I think I cut it out and still have it.

I really miss ASG.

Link Posted: 9/11/2010 8:06:37 PM EDT
careful for red tide. eat just one or two at first and gradually work your way up to a full meal of shellfish if its a survival situation. symptoms to look for are tingling lips and mouth and numbness.
Link Posted: 9/11/2010 10:43:01 PM EDT
I think I have this copy of ASG.
Link Posted: 9/12/2010 1:30:44 AM EDT
Originally Posted By AmericanPatriot1776:

I really miss ASG.



same here!!!

K.
Link Posted: 9/12/2010 2:39:50 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/12/2010 2:41:11 AM EDT by Dave15]
Originally Posted By Forest:
Usually when one thinks of foraging for food some specific images come to mind. Hunting for small game animals, such as squirrels, with a .22 rifle may be one. Stalking larger animals such as deer or moose may be another. Or you may think of gathering edible plants growing wild, like berries or roots


That really depends on where you live/grew up.

For those of use (i.e. a huge perecentage of the US population) that would also mean seafood.

Mussels might seem unusual to someone in a land locked state, but for those of us that grew up along the eastern seaboard they are just another staple food, like clams, crabs, or chicken.

For me eating possum, snake, or gator would be 'out of the box' thinking for foraging.



LOL, We eat a LOT of seafood here, year round.
Also heard the "FW mussels NO GOOD thing", all my life, and we'll eat most anything.
I see where coons and otters often gorge on them, and some times, I toss a few empty shells near a set as a visual attractant.

+1 on the paragraph thing-hard to read like that
Link Posted: 9/15/2010 11:00:56 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Kar15:
Originally Posted By AmericanPatriot1776:

I really miss ASG.



same here!!!

K.


Yep, it was published in ASG a loong time ago.....those were good times!

Miss American Survival Guide? Well, I have some news for yah! After the company was bought out and they killed off ASG the
editor started a magazine of his own on the web called ModernSurvival.net

check it out

www.modernsurvival.net

Link Posted: 9/15/2010 3:57:17 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/15/2010 3:58:04 PM EDT by Kibby]
Originally Posted By Dave15:
Originally Posted By Forest:
Usually when one thinks of foraging for food some specific images come to mind. Hunting for small game animals, such as squirrels, with a .22 rifle may be one. Stalking larger animals such as deer or moose may be another. Or you may think of gathering edible plants growing wild, like berries or roots


That really depends on where you live/grew up.

For those of use (i.e. a huge perecentage of the US population) that would also mean seafood.

Mussels might seem unusual to someone in a land locked state, but for those of us that grew up along the eastern seaboard they are just another staple food, like clams, crabs, or chicken.

For me eating possum, snake, or gator would be 'out of the box' thinking for foraging.



LOL, We eat a LOT of seafood here, year round.
Also heard the "FW mussels NO GOOD thing", all my life, and we'll eat most anything.
I see where coons and otters often gorge on them, and some times, I toss a few empty shells near a set as a visual attractant.

+1 on the paragraph thing-hard to read like that



The general concensus I get from googling around for this is that the FW clams/mussels are gtg, but with the caveat that they are only as good as the water they live in.
Link Posted: 9/15/2010 5:05:11 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Dave15:

+1 on the paragraph thing-hard to read like that


Sorry, I just cut an pasted it from my word document and it ended up like that.....

Link Posted: 9/15/2010 5:34:27 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/15/2010 5:41:21 PM EDT by Kar15]
not exatly mussels, but close enough... after reading this post this past sunday around noon i had an overwhelming urge for mussles and / or clams...

i found satisfation late that evening when i went to an italian place with my fiance, my baby sister, and her boyfrien. i ordered up a great big plate of linguine vongole fra diablo...

wasn't the nicest place i've ever eaten for sure, or the best preparred entree(restraunt is notoriously mediocre), but the dish really hit the spot after thinking about it all afternoon...

ETA: though isn't diablo spannish, and shouldn't an italian sauce be called fra diavolo?

K.
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