Living in an age where we are so disconnected from the origins of our food has made survival a subject of wonder. We have repeatedly been told that our water needs to be boiled and filtered or that our food needs to be cooked to be edible.
This mentality has been laser-focused on products such as organ meat, the liver being a prime example. Cross-contamination is a threat, it’s true. But only if the ingredients are handled improperly.
Yes, you can eat liver in a survival situation or otherwise. Being cautious is advised since it is one of the primary detoxification organs which can hold impurities and disease unless cooked properly.
The liver is one of those food items that people either love or hate. While there are clear benefits to consuming it there are also some factors that need to be considered before you try it, especially in a survival situation.
Should You Eat Liver Raw or Cooked?
While it is possible to eat the liver raw and be just fine, the risk of food poisoning is still there.
Even cooked, you can still reap the benefits of eating the liver with a much-reduced risk of damaging your health.
Eating any meat that is uncooked has a large risk of making you sick. Pathogens cannot stand high heat for a long time which makes cooking the liver thoroughly the ideal way to prepare it.
All of the harmful substances from environmental pollution, heavy metals, and similar chemicals are filtered through the liver. This means it is an epicenter for issues such as parasitosis or chronic disease.
The raw liver consists of a smooth, creamy-like texture paired with a strong taste that can be off-putting. Some people claim that the liver has a sweet nuttiness to the taste that cannot be found anywhere else on the animal.
Foie Gras (duck liver) is considered a delicacy with its unique taste and texture.
It’s interesting to note that the taste of the liver depends on the animal it came from. This means that the liver from a duck won’t taste the same as a beef liver.
Growing up as a kid I remember my mother cooking up some liver and onions and I found the taste revolting.
However, everyone else in my family didn’t mind the taste. I found that it has a strong flavor, much like iron or blood in my mouth.
It was quite tender to the fork but there was just something about that overwhelming taste I didn’t like.
The larger the animal is the more flavorful the liver. If it is overcooked then it will be hard to chew, much like sturdy leather. When prepared properly it will maintain some of that soft texture it had while it was raw.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Raw Liver?
If the taste and texture of cooked liver turn some people away, then what exactly is the draw towards eating it raw?
Well, it turns out there are some strong benefits for our health to eating the liver without cooking it.
Highly Protective Against Conditions Like Anemia
The liver is full of blood which means it is a good source of Iron and B12, the two sought-after nutrients inside the meat. These are some of the most important building blocks for our bodies.
Additionally, these nutrients are easily digestible which makes them a better source of nutrition than taking various synthetic supplements.
Eating raw liver has the potential of improving your blood quality and increasing the number of existing cells.
Maintaining Your Eyesight
Dry eyes lead to infection and impaired function at night. As your body ages, it requires more nutrition to maintain its current level of functionality and the liver can provide a few key nutrients to help your eye.
Chicken liver in particular has alpha and beta carotene which are known to improve eyesight and mitigate dry eye conditions. Vitamin A prevents cataracts and other degenerative issues.
Extremely High in Protein
The liver has a protein content of around 20-25% per 100 grams when compared to the meager 4g of fat you get from the same serving size.
Since the liver is vital to a functioning body, expect the protein source to be of higher quality than elsewhere.
Improves Reproduction Chances
The liver provides a good source of folic acid which can help fix any deficiencies in the body.
Females with low folic acid in their body have issues with ovulation which hinders conception.
Since you can also find Vitamin B9 and Zinc in the liver too, men will benefit from improved sperm quality.
Can Eating Raw Liver Make You Sick?
Remember when I talked about the presence of heavy metals in the liver? This is one of the areas in the body that has the potential to store it.
Heavy metals are not good for human health and can cause chronic disease, specifically in the brain.
You may not see any adverse effects right away but there is a compounding effect that can quickly escalate into something else.
If you eat the liver sparingly and give your body enough time to process and detoxify itself then there should be no harm done.
Raw meat of any kind can potentially cause you to become sick. Symptoms of food poisoning from eating the liver include:
- Stomach cramping
In a survival situation, you will not have the luxury of getting a liver that has been raised to be eaten raw. A farmer hasn’t fed the animal a special diet that limits heavy metal exposure.
The upside to that though is that wild animals are generally eating a natural diet anyway so their liver has minimal exposure to harmful substances.
In the city it is a different story since the animals are habituated and will feed on garbage.
The liver is a versatile food in the nutrition that it gives our bodies. A lot of the vitamins and minerals within have a direct correlation to our health and as such, there is a large benefit to eating liver.
Consuming it raw or cooked is largely based on personal preference, although if you are going to consume it raw, ensure that the liver is sound and free of disease.
If you’re in doubt, the safest route is always to cook the meat before consumption.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions people have about eating liver for survival. If you have any more of them, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!
There are risks associated with eating any animal; However, if the animal had a healthy life, then there is minimal harm in eating the liver.
Most people primarily stick to chicken, beef, and duck liver when they want to eat liver.
You’d be surprised to know that the liver of many mammals is edible and quite healthy for us. Examples include rabbits, fish, and pigs.
Perrin is an adventure guide and naturalist currently living a nomadic life in the Canadian wilderness. His education and expertise is in wilderness survival and wildlife tracking. He enjoys teaching people about the outdoors and has managed large groups on expeditions.
With several accredited certifications, including being a wilderness first responder and a leave no trace expert, Perrin believes it is important for all of us to reconnect with the natural world.