Buy the new shirt here.
Buy the new shirt here.
In just a couple days I am going to be embarking on a year long Caught Not Bought challenge. I will be joined by a few brave dudes who are going to attempt the challenge with me. There are also folks who are planning to jump in for a week or month at a time. We’ve done a couple month long challenges and some shorter ones but this will be the longest by far. Living in Florida comes with some major benefits and along with challenges. There is really an overabundance of stuff to eat here and we know from experience that this challenge is not only possible but will be a blast. The difficulty of trading our Publix subs and pizza for muscovy ducks and smilax will be a task to push through but it’s one I’m excited about. Be sure to follow along this year as we hike, hunt, spearfish, forage, and who knows what else. Watch the videos, follow @caughtnotbought on Instagram, get engaged, and join us if you’re so inclined. We will be foraging every day for a year. You’re more than welcome to walk around the park or woods with us.
I’ve been slacking on keeping the blog up to date so here’s a quick run down of the past week. This August Challenge has been off to a rather easy start. Unlike June, this time, we have been able to stock up ahead of time and barter as well. This has left me with beef, milk, eggs, venison, a surplus of bananas, and some other veggies. I haven’t even had to think about dipping into fish yet and really haven’t been forced to do much foraging. I believe my rabbits may be safe for the month, too. It’s definitely been a different feel so far. I am impressed, though, I’ve seen some awesome creativity early on from some of the folks doing the challenge. I’ve seen people take initiative on foraging as well as hunting and there have been some cool dishes put together. A handful of folks have made homemade flour out of bananas and coconuts. I’m sure we’ll see more ingenuity as the month goes on and initial stocks are depleted. My favorite thing that I’ve made so far has been banana flour flatbreads with scrambled eggs. Easy to make and awesome to eat.
Day 1 done. For breakfast I had some wild muscadines and beautyberries. Lunch was some smilax I found with Johnny. Dinner was a couple venison sausage patties, charred saw palmetto hearts, and a salad of wild lettuce and hibiscus flower. I have some trades lined up for tomorrow that I’m super excited about!
Yeah buddy! This is the last weekend of ice cream, soda, and breakfast burritos before kicking off the August Challenge. We have a killer crew already committed and I’m sure there will be some more that join before we start. You can check out the previous blog post for details and rules on the challenge. I’m so pumped to see the creativity and variety that comes out of this month’s challenge.
On Saturday we are going to have an August Challenge kick off at John Chesnut Park in Palm Harbor. We are planning a foraging walk where Stephen and I will show a dozen or so edible plants to help equip everyone for the month. We will also have an opportunity there to do some trading. We are encouraging everyone to bring some stuff that they can contribute, ensuring everyone can start out with a little bit of variety. This will also be a good chance to meet others doing the challenge. We will be meeting at the boat ramp at 3pm. You can find directions to the park here and the boat ramp is to the left as you enter the park.
If you have any questions about the meet up feel free to email me at email@example.com
We are excited to announce that we will be running our second month long Caught Not Bought challenge in August. Unlike the June Challenge, the August Challenge comes with time to prepare. We are inviting anyone who wants to join us in this challenge. We already have folks from Naples, Sarasota, Leesburg, Tampa, Clearwater, and Tarpon Springs joining us, as well as people from South and North Carolina, California, and Kenya. If you are interested in joining this challenge shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be organizing regular meet ups/forage trips/barter opportunities throughout the month. We are also encouraging those taking on the challenge to do some fishing/hunting together. If you are in or can get to the Tampa area we will be organizing a couple fishing/spearfishing trips.
Rules for the August Challenge are basically the same as they were for June:
This month we are strongly encouraging those who want to do the Challenge to find a buddy or group locally who you can do the Challenge with. It’s totally possible to do alone but way easier with some local accountability and encouragement. Keep an eye on the blog and social media to see featured food sources that will be available during the month of August.
Lastly, for now, we will be teaming up with our buddies over at Skinny Water Culture for some exciting stuff including an exclusive CNB/SWC t-shirt limited to those who take on the Challenge. The details and pre-order for those shirts will be available in the next week or so.
The Challenge seems daunting, and it is definitely a Challenge. But we’ve already shown that it can be done. Come do it with us. If you are on the fence, whatever makes the best story.
So… June is over but before I go get some pork belly tacos and horchata I wanted to share some thoughts and experiences that Stephen and I had over the past month.
We made the decision to start this challenge with only a few days to spare and literally nothing prepped in the freezer or the garden. This dictated the theme for the month of basically having to go day to day. I loved this as a starting point because it forced us to immediately get to work in our research and in the woods. Stephen and I both hunt and fish regularly so I was never concerned about protein. However, we had very limited knowledge regarding wild edibles. We quickly found an awesome resource in Green Deane and his website and Youtube channel “Eat the Weeds“. In our first blind forage trip, we found blackberries, blueberries, swamp cabbage, and saw palmetto. Quickly after we started regularly eating sword fern tubers, Spanish needle, unripe bananas, and smilax. As we became familiar with the season and where to find edibles we began noticing more stuff that was on the brink of being ready, primarily wild muscadines and citrus.
The challenge was a month of only eating food that we foraged, hunted, or caught. We were allowed limited ingredients only for seasoning and couldn’t use anything that added substance to a meal. For example, you can’t add store bought tomatoes to a Spanish needle salad. We had a couple fruitful spearfishing trips at the beginning of the month which gave us all the fish we needed. However, for the sake of the challenge and to keep it interesting, we set out to find alternate sources of protein. This found us eating Muscovy ducks, wild rabbits, and even iguanas. Squirrels, hogs, and snakes were high on the want list but kept their distance from us this month.
One of the most interesting things I noticed this month were people’s reactions when they heard what we were doing. I didn’t think it would be that interesting of a challenge to onlookers and I surely didn’t expect the amount of feedback and followers that we got. Day one was really tough and I actually considered calling it then. I had a headache and I wanted cheese. As I sat there on the on the first night debating calling Stephen and asking him if he wanted to go get some pulled pork my phone started going off with people saying they were intrigued by what we were doing and were excited to follow along. I felt like I owed it to them to stick it out. I’m glad I did. Not as numerous but much more vocal were those who made it a point to tell me how stupid they thought it was. People were asking why I just don’t go to the store. I had people telling me I was going to get sick and poisoned and it’s not safe to eat wild plants. It was pretty crazy, actually. My thought was, “Why do you even care about this?”. It kept us driven, though. It’s sad to me that people think that the idea of living off the land is a pointless endeavor. It’s sad to me that they think that processed food, mistreated meat full of hormones and steroids, and veggies laced with pesticides and preservatives are better options. Whether you slap the “organic” label on it or not, if you bought from someone other than the farmer or the fisherman then it’s most likely crap. Multiple degrees of separation between you and the source of your food is never ideal. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll get down on some breakfast burritos and pizza. I’ll even opt for “healthier” choice sometimes. I’m not going to lie to myself and others, though, by saying that straight from the woods and the water isn’t best.
The heart behind this was not to do some weird survival challenge or to prove something to anyone watching. The reason we did this was to prove to ourselves that we can. We’re a people who are so remarkably dependent in every aspect of our lives. I wanted to grasp the aspect of sustaining life through nutrition, take it out of the hands of the grocers, and put it back in my own. Stephen and I just proved to ourselves that we can go a month without spending a penny on food and survive. Not only survive but remain content, completely functional, and actually healthier by the end of it. Throughout the course of the month, I found that I never once felt “starving” and rarely was I hungry to the point of distraction. On top of that I generally just felt good. I slept great and was always rested. I never felt tired or sluggish and mentally I felt good. I lost over 25lbs this month. I meant to work out but I forgot. I bet if I was disciplined in the gym that number would have been a lot higher.
We learned that although something is edible it doesn’t necessarily taste good. And although we stayed alive and healthy, there were times in the woods where we’d say, “That was disgusting.” Here are some of the regular wild edible of our diet:
–Spanish Needle: This comprised about 85% of my greens over the past month. It’s gross. It’s healthy but it’s just not good. Often I would put it on my plate to take a picture and then ball it up and eat it as fast as I could. The good thing about Spanish needle aside from being good for you is that it is everywhere. I found it in the woods and in my yard. I found it in my neighbor’s yard and in my neighbor’s neighbor’s yard.
–Sword fern tubers: The inside is the taste and texture of water chestnuts but they have a tough, thick skin that tastes like dirt. Boiling them and pickling them made them better to eat. Easily accessible.
–Smilax: Smilax is excellent. It tastes like raw green beans. It doesn’t yield much and takes work but I starting focusing in on smilax a lot towards the end of the month. It’s a vine and grows on bushes, fences, and trees. Easily accessible.
–Pennywort: I used to make money killing dollarweed. It’s everywhere and people hate it but that’s because they haven’t eaten it. It’s a little bitter but not bad to eat. It was regularly eaten as we foraged and was added often to salads. Easily accessible.
-Blueberries and Blackberries: These were an awesome addition. They were easy to find as well but are all but gone now.
The way we began finding wild edibles was by researching what is available now and then going out and looking. The process of foraging became a hunt and it was awesome. It was very rewarding when we’d find a new species that we set out specifically to find. The white whale of edibles that we never found was wild yams. We put in the time, too. We’ll find them eventually but some sweet potato fries would have been a great addition to the month.
In closing, this month was an eye opener to me. I finished encouraged at the possibilities of what is wild and available. I learned that we are designed to eat based on the seasons and that everything you need is readily available if you are willing to put in a little effort. I learned that, like anything really worth doing, hunting, fishing, and foraging take time and are not always fruitful but are extremely rewarding. I learned many new skills that I’ve already been passing along to my kids. I learned that not everybody likes to be confined to the box of process that is shoved down our throats by the society around us. There is no such thing as doing something because “that’s just how or why we do it”. That truth is relevant in the way we eat and the means by which we acquire our food.
We are doing the challenge again in August. This time we are having friends from around the world join us. We will be planning local meet ups/ foraging trips/and bartering days. We also have a month to prepare. I will be writing a post in the next couple days with more detail and I’d like to encourage you to consider joining us. We have some really cool stuff planned for the month of August and beyond. During this month we will be doing regular features on what to be looking for locally here in Florida during the next couple months. We will also feature info that we receive from our friends around the country and around the world. Keep an eye out for that post, and until that day comes, keep your ear to the grindstone.
Thanks for an awesome first challenge!
Day 30 done! Spent a little time foraging and scouting this morning. There are a ton of wild grapes out there that will be ready in another month or so. Had some pennywort for breakfast and then made one last late lunch of fried grouper. I think I’ll take a few days off from fish. Right now I’m baby stepping to midnight and to the first of many burritos. I’ll do a write up on Saturday instead of tomorrow (since I don’t have Internet 40 miles offshore and 130′ underwater) summarizing the whole month with some highlights and stuff we’ve learned. Along with some announcements as well. Keep an eye out!
Day 29 done. Almost there… I had no breakfast today and a very late lunch of Spanish needles and fried mahi that I soaked in vinegar and hot sauce for a couple hours before frying. Since my lunch was so late I didn’t have dinner. We’ll see what happens tomorrow to wrap up the month.
Day 28 done. It was a busy day and I had no time to forage. I also wanted to take a break from fish. I had no breakfast or lunch and figured I’d probably not eat today but this evening my buddy Brandon and I went for a walk after Bible study and I got some smilax. Brandon had a great garden going for a while but it has since died off. All but two tomatoes. He let me salvage the tomatoes so for dinner I had tomato slices with salt and pepper. It’s amazing how a little thing that you take for granted like a tomato can be such a big deal when you haven’t had access to them for a month.