10 Ways to Forage in the Modern World

We’ve all been there, said we’d bypass the appetizers at the annual office picnic or told ourselves ahead of time that we absolutely don’t need a slice of birthday cake, but before you know it you’re stuffing bacon-laden potato skins (potato – of all things!) into your mouth or reaching for yet another slice of Fudgy the Whale cake.

The bottom line is that temptation is lurking around just about every corner, and with the soon-to-come slew of summer barbeques (hello flag cake!) and other excuses to chow down, we figured you could use a few strategies to help you stay the course.

Just like last week’s post on foraging for food at junk food joints this post aims to provide some real world skills that would make your Primal ancestors proud. The dietary landscape may have changed, but the need to forage has not.

So, make like a boy scout and adopt the mantra “always be prepared” and approach potential diet derailers with these ten trusty (and Mark-approved) tips.

1. Snack-attack


As the temperature heats up, suddenly it’s not as convenient (or tasty!) to throw an apple or some raw veggies in the bottom of your bag and head out for the day. Instead, consider stowing nuts, sunflower seeds or other healthy snacks (preferably that won’t melt!) in your purse, car, gym bag, desk drawer or other convenient location. Not only will it save you a buck or two (have you seen vending machine prices lately?), but your waistline will thank you for it too.

2. Shop-a-holic

Salad Bar

Being a road warrior doesn’t have to mean evenings spent seated alone at a restaurant with nothing but a book for company. Your best bet? Ask the hotel concierge to direct you to the nearest grocery store. Not only can you score the meat, fresh vegetables, berries and nuts necessary to put together a great entrée, many grocery stores now offer full salad bars and hot-meal options (but, as always, use common sense when selecting items).

3. Customize your Cuisine

Menu Board

Not too long ago, the scene from “When Harry Met Sally” (no, not that one!) where Meg Ryan’s character customizes every aspect of a meal would have ensured a booger-laced entrée, but these days, restaurants – and, more importantly, wait staff – barely bat an eye when you ask them to skip the bread, add more tomatoes, put the dressing on the side, or grill instead of fry the main dish. The bottom line? Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want!

4. Nature-bound

Natural Food

If you’re too shy to customize, a great rule of thumb for dining (both in restaurants, at parties or just at home) is to only eat those items that exist in nature. A recent post by Scott Kustes at the Modern Forager sums it up to a tee: Eat real foods, preferably in their natural state. Need further clarification? Scott defines food as items that grow and die and cannot be created; that wilt, rot or otherwise become unappetizing at a fairly rapid clip; that doesn’t require packaging or an ingredient label; that have no celebrity endorsements and that don’t make any outrageous health claims. In fact, Scott notes that if you stick to only natural foods, you will virtually eliminate any need to count calories, carbs or any other nutrient. In essence, if you’re having trouble deciphering the menu, just ask yourself if it exists in nature – it really is as simple as that.

5. Water-logged


Select your restaurant choice based on the availability of your favorite beverage? Even if you’re hunting down the best in diet sodas, the reality is there is really no excuse to be drinking soda. To keep it primal, ditch the monster soda fountain drinks and instead opt for a glass of water (only if you’re thirsty!).

6. Fast forward

Skip a Meal

Can’t find anything to eat? Perhaps skipping a meal wouldn’t be a bad option. Obviously, if you’re feeling light-headed or are otherwise famished, this isn’t an option, but in some instances, simply shunning food can be quite satisfying. To learn more about the benefits of fasting, check out Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy? Or, if you have some travel in your future, seriously consider reading this one: Fasting May Stave Off Jet Lag.

7. Perfect Plans


Of course, it should be noted at some point, the most obvious solution is to avoid these “up-against-the-wall” situations altogether. Although this isn’t always realistic, simply planning ahead (i.e. packing a healthy lunch before so you aren’t left high and dry if you hit the snooze button one too many times) can be the best way to avoid making compromises to your diet.

8. DIY

Local grocery store doesn’t stock the produce you need? Sometimes foraging for food on your own terrain (i.e. your garden) can be that much easier. Don’t have acres to dedicate to your very own farmers’ market? Consider joining a community supported agriculture program (CSA), where you essentially pay to join a farm in return for a share in the crops (and the knowledge that you’re keeping your local farmers in business!) To read more about CSA’s and the benefits of growing your own food, visit Community Supported Agriculture.

9. No-No-No!


There’s no law in existence (at least as far as we know!) that says that you can’t turn down food. While we’ll be the first to admit it’s sometimes not easy to turn down your overbearing mother-in-law who just insists that her secret recipe lasagna will be just the ticket to “put some meat on your bones,” the reality is, you can always (kindly and politely) just say no.

10. Don’t worry by happy!


If you absolutely love cake (and have noticed that we’ve referred to it now three times in this post!) and it’s your son’s birthday and you haven’t had a slice since… well, probably his last birthday, don’t beat yourself up about it. A treat such as a little slice of cake isn’t going to derail a lifetime of good eating – just so long as you see it as just that: a treat and something that is to be enjoyed only in rare instances. Just remember, if you stay the course 90% of the time you are doing better than 99% of people. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post: Impact Inquest: Observing Sugar’s Effects.

mrjorgen, smcgee, harry07, qmnonic, joshme17, °Florian, ASurroca, cleverswine, adobemac, chotda Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

10 Way to Forage in a Fast Food Nation

Top 10 Fast Foods in Disguise

Top 10 Junk Foods in Disguise

You vs. The Mob: Mob Eating Mentality

Dear Mark: Family Dinner

5 Tips to Avoid Temptation

Hunting Ethics

Subscribe to Mark’s Daily Apple feeds

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6 thoughts on “10 Ways to Forage in the Modern World”

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  1. I especially identify with the comment about people insisting that you need to “put some meat on your bones.” I am a 6’2″, 165 lb, 18 year old in decent shape. But because more than half of American adults are overweight, I suppose I look absolutely strange to all of my parents’ friends, (many of whom knew me back when I was 240 lbs) who give all sorts of annoying comments about how I need to “fatten up.” (The worst is probably when really overweight people try and tell me that) Then, on the other side, I have my incredibly skinny cross country friends who just couldn’t possibly understand why I would ever skip the cake and ice cream at parties and whatnot. they all think I’m 100% crazy for ever giving the least of a damn about what I eat. God forbid I eat what I want, exercise self-control, and feel good about it!

    Since I just graduated high school and there are 100 billion grad parties to go to early in the summer, it’s a test of discipline now more than ever. But I’m all the better for it 🙂

  2. I was wondering, I read number 7 about skipping a meal could potentially be a decent idea, however doesn’t skipping a meal encourage low metabolism? I would caution against that. Also while I am discussing eating habits, I have had issue with “comfort eating”, I was wondering if there were others reading this post that had issue with comfort foods or comfort eating?

  3. “ditch the monster soda fountain drinks and instead opt for a glass of water.”

    Totally agree, there’s just one problem…

    Many restaurants I go to (not steakhouses, I’m talking about the cafes with the quiches and coffees) will give you a dixie cup when you ask for water with your meal. Anyone know what I’m talking about? You order even a small soda and they give a regular cup to fill up at the fountain station, but you order a water and they give you a 3oz thimble. Maybe I don’t need 8 glasses of water with my meal, but I’d like at least one!

  4. The cake statement made me laugh. During the month of April, May and June we have son’s b-day, my b-day, brother in law B-day, mother’s day, sister’s b-day, mom’s b-day, other son’s birthday, father’s day, my anniversary, and sometimes a graduation, which all involve cake. If that’s not enough cake, I’m sure someone in my family will be making a flag cake for the 4th-LOL
    Good thing I’m picky, I only eat cheesecake (my b-day).

  5. @Crystal,
    That’s exactly what i have for my birthday too, i hear it calling me in August(my b-day.) My brother is the same, he celebrates W/Cheesecake,too! I thought my bro. and I were the only 2 that had it for our b-day. Everyone else celebrates with cake.

    I love the pic. of the garden, my parents still grow their own veggies, they never worry about recalls, they do it right!