Can You Eat Grass in a Survival Situation?

If you find yourself in a survival scenario where you run out of food and are on the verge of starvation, you’ll be thinking about a lot of things that you never thought to eat before.

grass on a plate
grass on a plate

Scavenging for various sorts of plant life to add to your calorie intake is often advised by survival experts and survival manuals, but grass seldom seems to get mentioned. It’s all around us, and it’s very simple to collect.

Can you eat grass to avoid starvation in a survival situation?

No, you cannot eat grass to survive. It is prone to make you sick, but assuming that it doesn’t, grass contains a lot of cellulose that is indigestible. If you ate enough grass to feel full you’ll still be starving due to the total lack of nutrition.

There is still a lot more to learn about this topic, and you might be interested to know there are a few rare exceptions when it comes to grasses suitable for eating. A few species provide human-useful nutrients. We’ll talk about them and much more below.

Typically Encountered Grasses Should Not be Eaten

Most grasses that you will see in nature are non-toxic and can definitely be consumed if you wish, but just because you can chew and swallow them without causing serious injury does not mean you’ll benefit!

If you eat it, you’ll almost certainly become sick, and probably vomit (just like your dog). Because your body will be unable to process any nutrition from the grass in any significant amounts, grass clippings will not be able to nourish it.

Humans are not one of the many species that consume grass as a major or even primary component of their diet. Some animals do have special anatomy and biological processes that enable them to eat grass and thrive off it; their bodies are the only factor allowing them to do so.

Horses, like cattle, deer, goats and elk, can survive on grass for lengthy periods of time because their stomachs and intestines are constructed to break down hard, long-lasting cellulose. Even their teeth were created to chew vegetation without wearing down.

But in a pinch, won’t grass help even a little bit if you eat it? If it isn’t poisonous, there has to be something in the mixture that your body can extract and use.

Isn’t it true that vitamins and minerals are present? Again, sadly, not in any appreciable amount.

Consider what other big animals who eat grass must consume hundreds of pounds of the stuff every day to survive on it. This should help you appreciate how little nutrition there is in grass that is even available, assuming that your body could harvest it.

Let's talk about eating wild grass

Grass Causes Other Problems for Humans

There is more than one reason why you don’t want to eat grass as a potential survival food, even out of total desperation. Aside from the fact that it is indigestible and has a near-complete lack of nutrients, grass is also difficult for human teeth to handle.

Though it’s soft enough to feel like it belongs in your salad bowl, that green stuff that can be chewed shouldn’t be!

Here’s the issue: The enamel on your teeth is harmed by grass, which includes minerals that are extremely hard. Silica is the most common offender, among others. If you consume grass for lengthy periods of time, your teeth will be worn down over time in the process.

I’m sure you’ll also agree with me that grass is unsanitary. Trust me, you don’t want to know how filthy the grass in your yard is, to say nothing of grass in a wilderness area!

Everything in existence walks on grass, defecates and urinates on it, and dies on it.

It’s quite probable that any particular patch of grass is positively filthy with germs, and despite being so hungry you could convince yourself to eat it and the bark of the trees atop it, it is not going to help you and might infect you.

Please trust me on this when I say that grass, at least the vast majority of common grasses, are completely useless as a survival food. The majority of grass species are just not suitable for human dietary requirements.

Can Cooking or Other Procedures Make Grass Edible?

You’re doing a wonderful job of adapting to your new life in the wild. However, there’s nothing you can do about grass as a food source; it’s just not worth the effort.

Cooking it will make the grass softer, but it won’t reduce or alter the cellulose content that makes eating it so difficult for our bodies. It does not in any way improve its poor nutritional profile.

Spending time and resources on cooking grass for any reason, even to simply enhance its flavor if you’re really hungry, is a complete waste of time. You are far better off using your time and whatever energy you are expending to look for insects or other nutritious edible plants.

It’s time to accept reality. Grass is simply not meant for human consumption, as the case may be. You’ll just have to find something else to sustain you, or grin and bear it while the deer and goats chow down.


Exceptions that Prove the Rule

Whatever you’ve just learnt about grass and its complete inadequacy as a survival food, even in the most severe of circumstances, you’re adamant and resolute in your quest to eat grass or at least make use of it in some way to stay alive.

You are fortunate because there are a few edible types of grasses, and even the non-edible kinds may provide enough nourishment if you are dedicated enough to forage for them.

While there are a variety of edible grasses you may cultivate with some success, they do not grow just anywhere and are only viable and trustworthy emergency food supplies in specific locations.

Depending on where you reside and the season, you’ll be able to choose from alfalfa, foxtail, barley and various wheat species.

However, if you look closely, you’ll probably find grass that is germinating and has sprouted seed heads in addition to other kinds of ground cover.

Though the seeds are useless for human consumption, they may nevertheless be eaten since they contain just enough nourishment to sustain tiny mammals.

However, if you only employ the technique for a short time, research the different species of grass in your location. Certain grass types, for example, produce seeds that are poisonous even if the blades of grass themselves don’t contain any poison.

 If you are planning to eat the seeds, this might be a surprise you can ill-afford. Second, some grass seed varieties are susceptible to mold and other harmful microorganisms, including several types of mold that can cause serious sickness and prove fatal.

Never gather or consume any grass seeds with obvious mold symptoms, look fuzzy, or have a black, purple or mottled hue.

Just Don’t Eat This Stuff…

There is no method to eat common grasses in order to avoid starvation. If you can stomach enough of it, you might be able to ease your hunger pangs, but your body will not be able to extract any necessary nutrients from grass ingestion.

Certain species exist that are exceptions and may yield a crop, although germinating grass seeds provides only the barest scarcity of nutrition and eating these seeds has its own dangers.

For these reasons and the energy you’ll waste while trying, you should not even attempt to eat typical grass in a survival situation.

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