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Hey Ma, what's for dinner?

The last of the Rule of Threes is that a person can go about three weeks without food. While this is a true statement, I feel it needs to be qualified.

If a person goes for an extended period of time without any food, the body can start to cannabalize portions of the body, which can result in tissue damage, organ failure, and eventual death.

Additionally, even skipping a single meal can reduce your capacity for logical thinking and analysis, making it difficult to make correct decisions at a time when a little mistake can lead to death!

At this point, we need to consider that this rule needs to be split up into two parts: one for caloric intake and one for nutritional intake.

A normal, healthy human body can handily survive without any caloric intake for the proposed three weeks. Consider that the average man has about 12% of his bodyweight dedicated to storage fat (as opposed to "essential fat", which is different), while the average woman has about 15%. A 160 lb. man would have about 19 lbs. of storage fat; given that a pound of fat provides around 3600 calories, and assuming an average calorie consumption of 2400 calories per day, this man could last for a little over four weeks with a caloric intake of -0- before his body started to consume the essential fat and body tissues. (Keep in mind that extreme cold or heat can require double or more the daily caloric requirement.)

However, if your nutritional intake is also zero, your body can quickly use up stored nutritients. This leads to a lessened ability of your body to use stored fat, which can lead to lower blood sugar (and unclear thinking) and is followed by deterioration of your tissues and organs. 

Because of this, there are two options. The first option (which is what we recommend) is carrying small amounts of high-nutrition foods or supplements, rather than high carbohydrate foods traditionally recommended. A high-nutrition item can help your body utilized the vast stores of calories that are already being carried with you and is significantly lighter than carrying meals for several weeks or even days.

The second option is to be prepared to gather food from the wild. This is a lot more difficult than carrying high-nutrition items, but has the advantage of longevity; supplements will run out eventually, but if you know how to harvest from nature, you can keep going indefinitely. However, the knowledge required can be prohibitive.

This option requires knowledge of the types of food that can be found during the changing seasons. If plants, one must know which types of plants are edible (instead of being poisonous look-a-likes), which ones cause digestive or other complications, and at what time of the year they are edible.

Animals aren't as complicated as plants, but are much harder to catch! Almost every mammal can be eaten if skinned, cleaned, and cooked. Birds and reptiles are also pretty safe, but may not be as available as mammals, especially in colder weather.Typically, in order to catch this type of food, you either need to make traps/snares or have a hunting tool, like a blowgun.

Insects are easier to catch than animals, but take a little more care. First, make sure it is an insect and not an arachnid (although scorpians and tarantulas can be eaten; but I don't have any experience with that); second, avoid the adults and larva of insects that sting or are poisonous (typically more brightly colored and/or slow-moving); third, many insects have bacteria in their carapaces, so it's probably best to cook/boil them before you eat them.

Worms are pretty easy; step 1, pop them in some clean water (they'll suck in water and discharge anything in their digestive tract); step 2, eat them. Have fun.