Part Four: Finding Food
Weather you’re traveling on a budget or with nothing at all, food is always a must-have. Usually the cheapest food is normal loaves of bread from local bakeries, which cost anywhere from 5 to 50 cents a loaf, depending on the country.
‘Will Work For Food’ has been around since people started using money. Go into a resturaunt and ask if you can wash a few dishes or mop the floor in exchange for some bread. You will almost never be turned down, and sometimes they won’t even let you work, but will still give you a meal. Afterwards, offer again to work, even if you know they will refuse.
Sometimes your ride will offer to buy you a meal, and it’s okay to accept. Be sure to thank profusely and repetedly, and try to remember your manners, you filthy pig, you.
Dumpster-diving is always an option, especially if you are a no-budget traveler. Behind fast-food resturaunts are always dumpsters full of perfectly edible food. Sometimes it’s still warm. If you’re opposed to putting partially congealed McDonalds grease into your body, grocery stores are a good option for realtively fresh fruits and vegetables.
Forging is also an option. Make sure you can identlfy edible plants from non-edible ones. DO NOT eat any type of plant that you are not absolutely sure is edible. If you are unsure of it’s edibility, apply the Universal Edibility Test.
In the southwestern United States, parts of Mèxico and Central America, and Western South America, the prickly-pear cactus is a reliable, tasty source of food. Fry the leaves in oil if you have it (remove the spines, of course), and boil the fruits in soup. They can also be eaten raw, though the flavour is rather strong.
You will probably never need to use any of the information in the last two paragraphs, by the way. Unless you are hitching through some seriously unpopulated places. Or if you fall into a ravine…or you can’t find your way back to the road from your camping spot…for some reason, because that shouldn’t be too hard. Now that I think about it this is sort of silly to put on here in relation to eating while hitching. It’s a good survival note, though. I’ll allow it.
Also, don´t forget the viability of obtaining uncooked dry food products. These are useful because,
a) they last a long time and can be stored for emergencies, and
b) a lot of food can take up a small amount of space.
The uncooked dry food products I usually have somewhere in my pack are pasta, beans, and rice.
You may prefer to carry a camping stove with you. This is very convienent and will make you feel independent. Or you can simply build a campfire.
The downsides of camping stoves are the extra weight they add to your gear and the need to refill the gas bottle.
If you have no camping stove, you can still utilize uncooked dry food products. To cook, ask around in resturaunts until you find a nice owner who will cook the food for you. Oftentimes they will add meat or other extra goodies, and most of the time they let you sit inside and eat at the table like a real customer! It would be in good taste if you at least bought a Coca Cola or something while you ate, to show your gratitude.
If you know how to make trinkets or sell things while on the road, you can always trade for food.
Sometimes you will just have to go hungry. Remember, the human body can go more than a month without food; pride yourself on your ability to take hunger, on your ability to live life like a true adventurer and not a pansy nine-to-fiver who gets all cranky when he misses lunch.