Food for Winter Survival

It’s January and the temperatures have dipped considerably and all the green edibles, roots and nuts that you have learned about are gone or too much work to harvest. No problem! Odds are that you are not far from an outstanding food source that early settlers relied on when food became too scarce. That food source is the mighty pine tree! Maybe you’ve heard that the pine needles are edible (which is somewhat true….more on that later) but the source of food I’m talking about is the cambium layer. In between the outer bark and the inner bark is this wonderfully nutritious area that is white and can be peeled away from the hard, yellow inner bark in strips and eaten immediately, cooked over a fire (a little oil and salt makes it actually a descent snack), laid out to dry to eat later or pounded into a flour. Now that you are super excited to try it out and go eat a tree, let’s talk about identifying the pine tree first. In Wisconsin where I am, I have only tried the White Pine and the Red Pine. The White Pine is by far more palatable. Both Pines have needles in bundles prior to being attached to the tree limb. The White Pine has 5 needles per bundle (the same number of letters in the word white!) and the Red Pine has two much longer needles in a bundle and the bark is easily identified as “reddish”.

A word on being a good environmental stewardship…..only a small section of the tree needs to be harvested. Do not girdle the tree to harvest your bark. In other words, don’t cut a section that goes all the way around the tree. A square or rectangle area perhaps 10 inches by 6 inches is all you would really need.

Now back to that pine needle edibility. You can (and should) eat the pine bark but the same is not true of the needles. We are just not meant to eat the needles themselves but rather pull the nutritious part of the needle from it through a tea or saliva. The vitamin C that is packed into the needles is water soluble. That means if you put it in water, the vitamin will be transferred to the water. If you heat up the water, the transfer happens more rapidly. The same is true with saliva. If you chew on the needles, you will extract the vitamin C. But spit out the needle afterwards! That part is just too fibrous for our bodies to assimilate.

We hope you enjoyed this blog post! If you would like to learn more about Resiliency Training, please visit the website at

About Shannon Francis, Founder, Resiliency Training LLC

Shannon Francis has a Bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Education. She learned wilderness survival skills with legendary Park Ranger Art Sedlack in Glacial National Park in Montana. She worked for two summers in the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area as an outfitter and two summers as a naturalist for Governor Nelson State Park. After graduation she entered the Peace Corps where she developed the environmental education curriculum for grades 5-12 for the nation of Jamaica.

After two years of service, she became the environmental sector trainer for Peace Corps Jamaica and introduced team building exercises to the training program.Back stateside, Shannon worked for the YMCA as a Low Ropes/Team Building facilitator as well as taught outdoor survival skills. She has also worked in the private sector as a trainer for Six Flags and Timberland Boot and Outdoor Gear Company.Shannon loves to test her outdoor skills in a variety of rugged environments and weather. Most recently she traveled to Mongolia where she learned to live off the land in the traditional Mongolian nomadic lifestyle.Shannon is a fully certified ACCT low ropes facilitator as well as a FEMA CERT (Community Emergency Response Team).

Shannon has partnered with the Girl Scouts of SE Wisconsin as a Community Event Provider to assist Girl Scouts earn badges in the categories of Environmental and Adventure. She is also an instructor for the Primitive Skills Gathering, an annual event located in Ashland, Wisconsin and BOW (Becoming an Outdoors Woman) located in Stevens Point as well as for the Recreation Departments of Franklin, Greenfield, Greendale and Milwaukee. She has a passion to teach both kids and adults how to thrive with little or no modern conveniences in an urban or outdoor setting.

As a firm believer that what we put on our skin should be 100% natural, Shannon also co-created a line of body care products that are available on Etsy at These products can also be purchased locally in Milwaukee at the Natural Food Shop. She teaches how to make all of these products!

#becominganoutdoorswoman #resiliency #outdoorsurvival #wintersurvival #colorado #wisconsin #bow #bowcolorado

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Welcome to BOW Colorado! 


BOW Colorado had an amazing time at our BOW weekend this past July.  Through our many dedicated sponsors and the support of The Colorado Wildlife Federation, we will once again had the BOW program in the beautiful state of CO at the Colorado State Universities Mountain Campus in Bellvue, CO.  Check out our FB page to view some great photos and learn about the classes.  


Due to COVID-19 the 2020 BOW Summer Program will be cancelled.  

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