When you were talking about survival, one of the most important factors to account for is getting enough food. Yes, it is possible to survive for weeks without any food before you starve to death, but you’ll probably be incapacitated by weakness long before then.
Your body requires constant fuel to operate at peak capacity, and if you’re in a survival situation, you’ll be eating things you wouldn’t normally eat, and eating the things that you normally do without preparing them in the usual way.
How about something like raw green beans? Can you safely eat raw green beans in a survival situation?
Yes, green beans can be safely eaten raw to survive but the presence of lectins in raw green beans can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea in high amounts. Eaten in moderation, they’re still highly nutritious, making them a viable choice.
Lots of raw vegetables remain safe and quite palatable, and green beans definitely fit into that category so long as you don’t eat too many.
So long as they are fresh and clean green beans can be crisp and surprisingly sweet, making them one of the better options you’ll have access to if you are lucky enough to find them or have them growing nearby.
Even without cooking, green beans are a nutritional powerhouse. Keep reading and we will tell you more.
Where Do Green Beans Grow?
Green beans are native to the Americas, but are now grown and cultivated worldwide in a variety of climates.
You can typically find them when foraging in temperate climates that have mild winters and long growing seasons.
The beans are quite hardy and will grow rapidly once the temperatures stay consistently above freezing levels.
They do best in well-prepared soil, but can also tolerate poorer soil and even survive with minimal water though at a significant decrease in quality.
Keep in mind that, if foraging for wild green beans, that they are actually immature forms of various runner or yardlong beans, and furthermore they may not always be green!
Green beans might be a waxy, pale green to a deep, dark purple or even speckled orange and white depending on their species, so broaden your mind a bit when researching cultivars or looking for them in the wild…
Pretty much everyone knows that green beans are a highly nutritious vegetable, possessing a wonderful cross-section of vitamins and minerals that your body needs, along with lots of moisture that can help you stay hydrated and even a little bit of protein to help your muscles rebuild and provide long-term energy.
Looking at the vitamins present in green beans, we find most of the B complex vitamins present in abundance, including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and folate.
Green beans have a tremendous amount of vitamin C and vitamin K, along with a good shot of vitamin A equivalent.
The mineral profile is similarly diverse and strong, with plenty of manganese and magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and zinc present.
Together, all of these nutrients help your body perform its various chemical reactions for metabolism and healing, improve digestion and even help you stay hydrated by managing cellular performance.
And since these vegetables are so easy and generally safe to eat raw, you can quickly get these nutrients without having to expend energy cooking them, in a pinch.
How Do Raw Green Beans Taste?
Raw green beans typically taste surprisingly good! They have a crunchy, crisp, and moist bite to them that can be quite satisfying if you’re feeling hungry. The flavor is often sweet and not as “grassy” as many would suspect.
If there is anything off-putting about them it’s their texture — some people find that raw green beans are a bit too stringy or pulpy for their taste.
In these cases, trimming the stringy ends off of the bean pods is a good move and easy, though time-consuming!
Can You Eat the Raw Skin of a Green Bean?
Yes. The entirety of what we call green beans as a veggie is edible, including the outer surface of the actual bean pod itself.
Some people peel the skin off to remove any potential debris or dirt, while others go ahead and eat them with the skin on after a quick rinse.
Either way is generally safe, just remember to wash your beans before consuming them and eat in moderation if you can: you could potentially still fall ill from eating them raw. More on that later…
Are the Stalks and Stems of Green Beans Safe to Eat Raw?
Yes. The stems and stalks of green beans are safe to eat in their raw form, though some people find them a bit tough and fibrous raw.
This is especially true for mature or larger-sized bean plants, and the shrub varieties in particular. Smaller, younger varieties tend to be softer and more palatable.
Can You Eat Raw Green Bean Seeds?
Yes. The “seeds” of a green bean in the pod are the immature forms of what will eventually become the bean itself and are safe to eat in their young, raw form.
You can eat them as-is inside the pods, or extract these immature beans and eat them by themselves, again raw.
Can You Eat Raw Leaves from the Green Bean Plant?
Yes, you can! Green bean leaves can be eaten as green bean, ah, greens and are surprisingly nutritious.
The leaves possess a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that can help improve your health.
In addition to all of the vitamins and minerals found in green beans as a whole, the leaves also contain beta-carotene and lutein, both important antioxidants for the eye.
The leaves are likewise high in dietary fiber which can help promote regularity and digestion.
However, contamination of the leaves is a real possibility as green bean plants can be prone to mold and mildew.
As such, it’s best to inspect the leaves very carefully before eating, and very especially if you are going to eat them raw.
Can You Eat the Roots of the Green Bean Plant?
You can, but they are neither very good nor particularly nutritious. Green bean roots are more fibrous than anything else, and have very little in terms of nutritional value.
That said, they can be eaten safely like most root vegetables but you are best served by thoroughly cleaning and cooking them.
Are There Any Health Concerns for Eating Raw Green Beans?
There are some potential health risks associated with eating raw green beans, especially ones that are wild-sourced or taken directly from farm crops.
The first concern is the presence of lectins. Lectins are proteins that can be found in many beans, including green beans.
There have been rare reports of people developing a mild form of food poisoning after consuming raw green beans: lectins cause indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in large enough doses.
Luckily, green beans, being immature bean plants, usually contain very little lectin even when raw, so you’ll need to eat a bunch of them to experience symptoms.
As always, cooking neutralizes lectins reducing or eliminating these risks.
In addition, green beans like all raw produce can also carry bacteria and other microorganisms that can make you terribly sick if ingested.
Some of these can be quite severe, even deadly, and that is the last thing you want to cope with in a survival situation.
One of the most common is listeriosis, an infection caused by the listeria bacteria which can be found in raw green beans.
This nasty germ results in fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal upset in mild cases. In severe cases, it can cause meningitis, septicemia, and even death.
Another common one is norovirus, a very contagious virus that causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
Be warned that this virus is extremely contagious and is the most prevalent foodborne illness associated with food poisoning.
So while raw green beans are generally safe to eat always make sure to thoroughly wash them before eating if you can, even in survival situations.
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.