Anytime you are in a survival situation you probably aren’t going to have the same choices that you usually do. You might not get to pick where you sleep, what you have to do, or even what you get to eat.
Some foods that you don’t like will definitely be on the menu, and even some that you think are downright disgusting might be too.
Under the circumstances, it is just fuel, but it pays to know ahead of time what foods can be found out in the wild, and also what normal foods you can eat without cooking or other special preparation.
How about brussels sprouts? They are a “love it or hate it” vegetable in the best of times, but can you eat them raw in a survival situation?
Yes, Brussels sprouts can be safely eaten raw, but they tend to be tough and can cause indigestion. They are a valuable source of calories and nutrients, however.
If you like Brussels sprouts, you probably aren’t too put off by the idea of eating these tiny cabbages.
However, if you already despise Brussels sprouts you may be praying for death before you’re ever forced to try and eat them raw.
I promise it isn’t as bad as all that, so keep reading and we will tell you everything you need to know about eating Brussels sprouts to survive.
Where Do Brussels Sprouts Grow?
Brussels sprouts can be grown across much of Europe, Central America and North America, and can prosper in a surprisingly wide temperature range of between 45 °F and 75 °F (7 °C and 24 °C), though they thrive in cool, temperate zones that hover around 60 °F.
However, Brussels sprouts are quite hardy and can be grown in northern latitudes and even survive an initial freeze as winter approaches without any serious degradation in quality. A frost actually helps the quality of the sprouts by sweetening them up a bit.
You may or may not run across Brussels sprouts growing wild, but they can be found regularly in countries where they are grown near major farming operations.
Brussels Sprouts Nutritional Info
When you were young, your parents probably tried to force-feed you brussels sprouts against your will, but they did it with the best of intentions: Brussels sprouts are one of the most nutrient-packed vegetables around, and in addition to having a little bit of protein they are loaded with vitamins and minerals alike.
The vitamin profile is most impressive, with a tremendous amount of vitamin K and vitamin C, along with lesser but still very significant amounts of the B complex vitamins including vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and folate along with vitamin E, choline, vitamin A and beta carotene. Whew!
And even though it does not quite stack up to the amount of minerals present in this super veggie, the minerals are still incredibly valuable, especially in a survival situation.
Iron, manganese and phosphorus are most abundant followed by potassium, magnesium, zinc calcium and sodium.
Also, most notably, brussels sprouts are around 86% water by weight if you can believe it, meaning they can help keep you hydrated particularly if you are eating them raw.
All of these vitamins and minerals together will help your body do everything from maintain its metabolic performance and repair cellular damage to maintain your nervous system and ocular tissues.
The vitamin K present in Brussels sprouts is particularly noteworthy because it is a clotting agent, and can help your body recover from wounds.
It has so much vitamin K, in fact, the people undergoing blood thinning therapies are usually barred from eating brussels sprouts on doctor’s orders!
Like them or not, you would be foolish to pass up brussels sprouts in a survival situation.
How Do Raw Brussels Sprouts Taste?
If you don’t like cooked brussels sprouts you definitely aren’t going to like them raw, and depending on how you prepare cooked ones at home if you do like them you’re probably going to be disappointed.
Raw brussels sprouts are dense, tough, woody and typically fairly bitter although many modern cultivars have selected vigorously for sweeter plants.
Some varieties of brussels sprouts have a notable garlic-like or sulfurous quality when raw that can make them even less palatable, and no matter what variety you have they make for tough chewing and swallowing.
But you need to keep at it because Brussels sprouts contain so much fiber and are so dense they can cause indigestion if you don’t chew them up well.
That being said, taste notwithstanding they are still entirely wholesome and very good for you, and frankly are probably much better eating than the average insect you might have to resort to in a survival situation…
Can You Safely Eat Raw Brussels Sprout Leaves?
Yes, you can. The densely packed leaves are what make up the brussels sprouts and why they resemble miniature cabbages- which is basically what they are.
These leaves are entirely safe to eat raw, although you might want to discard the outermost ones since they have likely come into contact with the most contamination. A quick flick is all it takes to get rid of them.
Can You Safely Eat Raw Brussels Sprout Stems?
You can, but the stems of Brussels sprouts are so tough and woody they will be very difficult to eat and contain very little nutrition compared to the buds themselves.
This is why the remnants of these stems are always carefully cut away by cooks at home.
If you have time and opportunity, do the same, or else you can just bite the tenderest leaves off of the stem and then discard the rest.
Can You Safely Eat Raw Brussels Sprouts Stalks?
Not really. The main stalk of Brussels sprouts are incredibly tough and dense, and extremely difficult to eat when raw.
To my knowledge they aren’t even prepared by cooking, and are discarded as a rule. I recommend you don’t even try to eat the stalk.
Are There Any Risks Associated with Eating Raw Brussels Sprouts?
Consumption of brussels sprouts is associated with a couple of unique risks, especially for people who are on blood thinning medication or other therapies as it mentioned above.
This is due to the incredible amount of vitamin K present in these tiny veggies.
Brussels sprouts also contain compounds known as glucosinolates, which can block the uptake of iodine and subsequently interfere with proper thyroid function.
This is especially hazardous for those with existing thyroid problems, and if that describes you then you probably want to avoid eating Brussels sprouts entirely.
Brussels sprouts also contain various types of completely indigestible fiber which, while usually harmless after passing through the body undigested, can be hard on some people’s stomachs and all are notorious for causing gas.
If you suffer from various stomach ailments and irritable bowel syndrome in particular, Brussels sprouts, cooked or raw, are probably not a good idea.
Lastly, eating any raw vegetable, Brussels sprouts included, does put you in a higher risk of contracting foodborne illnesses and food poisoning in particular.
There are various germs that cause food poisoning and all of them are something you want to avoid while in the middle of a survival scenario.
Common symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps and the like are only going to dehydrate you further and might even kill you off if you are already injured or sick. Consider that you aren’t going to be able to run down to the corner clinic or to your family doctor for help under the circumstances!
But if you’re going to eat Brussels sprouts raw, do whatever you can to wash them thoroughly before eating, and at the very least discard the outermost leaves on the buds before consuming. This will help to minimize your chances of ingesting something you’d rather avoid.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.