Napoleon Bonaparte, the first Emperor of France and widely regarded as one of the greatest military leaders in the history of the West, once said something very simple and true,

“An army marches on its stomach.”

The last of classical Athens’s three great tragic dramatists, Euripides, also said,

“When a man’s stomach is full, it makes no difference whether he is rich or poor”

A final saying to this delicious trilogy is the famous proverb,

“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”

These three quotes and sayings speak to the importance of food and a full stomach.  Food is central to any trip and this is especially true for us embarking on a long kayaking journey. When kayaking through huge remote areas, there is the challenge on how to provision for such a long trip in the wilderness. Some other kayakers on a similar journey had food airdropped into the remote locations or mailed it to various villages on the way…though they only held the packages for a couple weeks so it was always a bit of a rush to make deadlines.
me (Maggie) with some fresh greenlings I caught that we cooked up for dinner
Some fresh fish for dinner caught off my kayak! These are a couple big greenlings, which are often found in kelp beds

When we kayaked from Vancouver up to Alaska in 2010, we decided on living off the land. This meant fishing and gathering berries, shellfish and wild edibles for our dinners. This turned out to be one of our favorite parts of the trip and something we now really look forward to about these long kayaking journeys through the wilderness!

We plan on foraging for our dinners on this kayaking expedition circumnavigating Vancouver Island as well! 

Our plan is to stop kayaking around 2pm in the afternoon and fish for dinner. We will go to a kelp bed and jig for rock cod and greenlings. We’ll bring our catch of the day to shore to clean the fish and make a fire to cook it in. Our fires are always very small cooking fires made in the intertidal zones where it will be washed away by the next tide and we always prepare food away from camp for wildlife safety. Sometimes, we will also find some shellfish like mussels or wild edible food like berries and greens. Also depending on the location, we will put the fish heads and spines after cleaning the fish into our collapsible crab traps to put out for a couple hours as we continue to set up camp.

The bountiful resources of the Northwest Coast has not only been discussed in the present day but has been a part of the discussion of the coast’s history.The Northwest Coast is famous in anthropology for the rich cultures that have been found here. Previous to exploring the First Nation cultures on this coast, it was generally believed that a foraging society could not be very sedentary and could not develop complex societies. However, an anthropologist named Boas found during his work here in the late 19th and early 20th century that the resources of salmon and berries was so rich that people were able to live quite sedentary lifestyles and the cultures on this coast was amazingly intricate and complex.

That being said, finding the occasional restaurant at one of our town stops also “technically” counts as foraging!
Yummy campfire meal of some dehydrated chili. Secret is that you can actually dehydrate almost anything so before we leave, I will make big batches of food and dehydrate it for the trip!
Yummy campfire meal of some dehydrated chili. Secret is that you can actually dehydrate almost anything so before we leave, I will make big batches of food and dehydrate it for the trip!

We will post about our culinary adventures including the camping food we dehydrate to prepare for the trip, showcase some of the meals we’ll cook over the campfire, display proud pictures of the fish we caught and feature some of the amazing westcoast restaurants we run into on the way!

Are you a restaurant on the coastline of Vancouver Island and have a dish you want to share with the world? Contact me at my email ( or post a comment below if you would like us to come visit your establishment!

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