How to Eat a Pine Tree - #SolutionsWatch

01/25/202248 Comments

Michael Hoffman of Food Forest Montana joins us today to introduce us to the concept of food forests by teaching us . . . how to eat a pine tree? Learn about the abundance growing right under your nose in this edition of #SolutionsWatch.

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Food Forest Montana

Food Forest Abundance (use Michael's discount code if you order a service)

Michael Hoffman on Declare Your Independence

Creating Abundance In Your Backyard - Jim Gale On The Highwire

I Am A Sustainable Free Trade Globalist

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  1. Duck says:

    That was really nice to watch and I will def check this guy out.

    just to reiterate for anyone cutting pine bark NEVER GIRDLE ATREE which means do not cut all the way 360 degrees around the tree trunk because the tree needs at least some uninterrupted route to transport nutrients to the top…. take strips that do not girdle the tree.

    If you girdle a tree it will generally die and not be useful next time.

    • lekp says:

      I was going to write the same thing after seeing the video. 👍

    • Aodh says:

      Hi Duck, girdling is a different term for what I knew as “Ring- Barking” and one I learned from a former ( thence reformed, and since deceased) Aussie cattle man. They would ring bark the huge existing, shade casting trees to kill them off and make way for grazing. The dead trees would stand petrifying for decades and eventually come crashing down, inevitably as a result of, and during a bush fire, as happened to me…quite a bang! Thankfully not on my cabin in that instance.

      • Duck says:

        Thanks, that’s interesting to know. I had no idea they cleared land like that in Australia…. it sounds like a good way to turn land into a desert since I bet those lg big trees pumped water up from deep underground and respired it into the air

  2. Facundo Merciadri says:

    Pine cake?! I’ve been living in Sweden for almost 5 years and have never heard of it. I’ll investigate more.

    Here we eat the pine sprouts in spring and also make tea. The citrus flavor is strong and fresh.
    Another good tea can also be made with the leaves of bjork and I know some people make a soap out of the same leaves.

    Thanks for this Solutions Watch episode, James. It was a good reminder of the abundance of food in the forest.

    Hope you can do one episode about housing (i.e. Super-adobe)
    Here’s a documentary I like about it:

  3. Duck says:

    This is a good video, but anyone wanting to do something right now for cheap should buy some sprouting lids (perforated screw tops) and some jars. I use the wide mouth canning jar and lid off Amazon (yeah… I know) and then sprout seeds for healthy salad greens that take no storage space since they are in the seed… buy dedicated sprouting seed so you know it’s not treated with chemical
    I never had much luck with beans TBH alfalfa and other stuff works easier.

  4. Fact Checker says:

    This week on Solutions Watch: an easy Five-Step program to independence and abundance:

    1.) Have idea to go off grid
    2.) Look into sustainable models
    3.) Move to New Mexico
    4.) ???
    5.) Somehow wind up with 11 acres in Montana eating a pine tree!

    Start today!

    • Duck says:

      Yes… if you lack drive, insight and ability it is totally impossible to become independent.

      You can buy 11 acres of land with your paper round money if you will buy land that is uncomfortable to live on and hard to get to. What you can not do is easily get off grid and live as easy as you do now.

    • Zzzap says:




      Its the 21st century and I was sold ‘The Jetson’s’ cartoons growing up, instead, I’m waiting for an episode where I learn how to turn feces into steak.

      Maybe explore and find more land – explore flat earth?

      Please note: we have also trained our bodies to reject the food that earth provides us. Some poor souls who have a hard time digesting gluten will have a very difficult time eating what the earth provides.

      • Duck says:

        If you are gluten intolerant but have not been tested and are just going off the effects it has you may want to try some hipster super organic brand of flour since I know a couple of people who only get the bad effect when they eat regular flour so we suspect it’s pesticides.

        • s511 says:

          I buy 5 gallon buckets of Einkorn wheat at Azure Standard. Grind the wheat manually and bake.
          “Einkorn has a much higher protein content (30% more than modern wheat) and less starch (15% less than modern wheat), along with a higher concentration of minerals and flavor. … The difference is the gluten structure (in einkorn) is weak, making it remarkably different than our modern wheat.”

      • anniees says:

        I’m gluten intolerant and what the Earth provides is 95% of my food intake. I don’t understand why you would think that everything made by Mother Earth contains gluten….

  5. HomeRemedySupply says:

    Entrepreneurial Endeavors – Pine Pollen

    I was about 5 or 6 years old when my younger brother and I tried to sell a handful of pretty rocks (pebbles) and some crumpled bubblegum baseball trading cards from the front porch of our house to passersby. We kept our treasures in an old Velveeta Cheese Box.
    That 10 minute enterprise in the hot west Texas summer sun didn’t bring in any revenue. The car and the bicycle rider who passed by did not stop and walk up to the porch to ask what we were doing there. We had no signs. However, one time I did yell “Pretty rocks for sale!”

    Regardless, I have always had a bailiwick towards trying entrepreneurial endeavors. I’ve tried well over a hundred business ideas with most of them flops. But some turned out well.

    In my area of Texas, there aren’t many pine trees because the climate doesn’t suit them. However, pine trees are prolific in east Texas, where I once lived.
    Anyone who lives near pine forests can tell you about the pine pollen season. Daily, the cars become coated with a dusty layer of pollen.
    There are ways to harvest that pollen.
    Personally, I like the taste.

    I’ve always thought that this might be a nice little money making gig on the side if I still lived in the Piney Woods of Texas.

    Pine Pollen Benefits

    Pine Pollen Marketing has a magic keyword: testosterone
    That magic keyword is certain to attract and interest a segment of the male population.

    EXCERPT from the website:
    According to laboratory studies, pine pollen contains:
    Amino Acids, DHEA, Brassinosteroids, Gibberellins, Phenylalanine, Polysaccharides, Testosterone, Tyrosin, Vitamins B & E

    [I am not promoting that particular website…I just grabbed that one. There are other websites and studies out there.]

    • lekp says:

      Of you don’t have pines, maple leaves are also edible.

    • artemis says:

      I was wondering myself, why he left off pine pollen….I am in Washington state…LOTS of pine. The pollen is SO medicinal, i have harvested it and used it myself to excellent effect… Got rid of my hot flashes…Pine pollen is a Golden treasure. Especially if you are older…shame not to mention it. It is even Good tastin.

    • klhop777 says:

      I also grew up in the Piney Woods of East Texas and moved South to Houston area and my property had 18 Pine trees that unfortunately I had removed. I really enjoyed this segment and had no idea of a Pine trees usefulness! When Hurricane Rita dropped a huge Pine tree on my house and destroyed it, which I barely escaped, my love of these majestic creatures waned. The Pine trees I know about have one long tap root that keeps them grounded. I would suggest not having them near your dwelling if you live in ‘hurricane land’. I had named this very large Pine tree ‘Big ‘un’ and while I loved the shade it provided, I was unaware I could have eaten it! Maybe I should have…haha. I now live in Central Texas surrounded by Cedar trees. Once again James is on his game with these Solutions and I am grateful for all of them! I think I will pass on the Pine tree solutions personally…just be aware they do not have the added stability of lots of roots to keep them grounded in high winds.

      • HomeRemedySupply says:

        The other week when in the grocery store I was chatting with a spry old petite lady of around age 80 or more. I helped her get a jug of distilled water from a top shelf. She uses it to rinse her nose from the Cedar pollen.
        With the recent winds and a dry spell, the Cedar Tree pollen is playing havock with many people in Texas.

        I’m old enough to remember the stories which I heard from my elders when I was younger. The Cedar Tree stories and the Texas language which came from it. Or, how as a kid, the guy hid in a Cedar bunch when the revenuers were breaking up the family’s hidden still.

        This is a good read…
        Texas Cedar Choppers
        “Meet the Unruly Clan That Once Ruled the Hill Country”
        Living hard and free, cedar choppers clashed with respectable townsfolk in the mid-20th century.

        An aside: The above article is in the iconic Texas Monthly magazine. To the publication’s credit, over a decade ago they were very cooperative and accommodating when I wanted to place a “9/11 Truth” ad. We were having a big 9/11 Truth event in North Texas, and at a token cost they gave us some great exposure.
        Circa 2009, shortly after the event is this descriptive: –On July 11th, from hundreds of miles away, six architects and engineers came to the Dallas area to help rally support for an all day 9/11 Truth Event.
        Entitled “WHAT YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW ABOUT 9/11: Building 7 – Gone in 7”, this Building 7 Symposium took place at a conference center in the Dallas suburb of Plano, Texas and was sponsored by members of “North Texans for 9/11 Truth”….

  6. Jed says:

    Great episode, very informative. I live in a wood house, keep it warm with wood, but didn’t know that wood is edible and nutritious as well. I’ve had pine needle tea brewed by a survivalist friend, it tasted like sour owl piss, but in all fairness maybe it was, I didn’t see him wash it. I didn’t know about the nutrition in that sub-bark layer. Michael Hoffman does a great job delivering this knowledge, he’s upbeat and to the point.
    It was nice to spend some time out in the Montana woods away from the usual dystopian Bill Gates of hell world. Speaking of survival food and Bill Gates, I wonder if he’d feed a family of five, and for how long? How would he best be prepared? Most likely ground up, put in a sauce. You’d eat him if you were starving, maybe could be delicious as taco meat, in the crunchy shells with three cheeses and hot sauce. Now Soros could be smoked, you could carve slices off that fat wrinkled bag for a whole winter — everything smoked tastes ok. Biden? I don’t know, maybe if prepared and cooked like chitlins, which are intestinal tracks filled with you-know-what. I think they’re breaded and deep fried. Bon appetitè

  7. padraig says:

    ive tried cambium a couple times while camping with forager types and it is not great. sorry. I’ve heard frying it makes it slightly more edible though I’ve not tried it prepared that way. i suspect drinking the oil/butter straight might be better…..gag. not a terrible idea to learn how to find/harvest it…. but i’ll be pretty much toasted before i’ll be able to choke that stuff down. the pine and/or the spruce tea are great. i drink it every evening whilst canoeing. highly recommended.
    some great ideas tho. thx.


  8. HomeRemedySupply says:

    Michael Hoffman mentions terpenes (7:30 mark), tree bark, cuttings and other things about the Food and Health Forest.

    While probably a lot of readers already know this, I’ll toss out a few tidbits…

    Many plants contain terpenes and volatile aromatic chemicals.
    Forest bathing is a thing and the naturally occurring terpene chemicals play a role.
    We’ve all heard of turpentine. Pinene is a terpene. Pine oil is a natural deodorizing disinfectant and a chemist capitalized on it with the synthetic product Pine-Sol.

    Gin is made with Juniper berries.
    Personally, I very often use the terpene called limonene (d-limonene), or commonly known as orange oil. I use it to kill bugs, remove gummy substances or to clean with (not on acrylics which will melt), and to freshen the air. It smells like oranges. It is also sold as a supplement because of the health benefits.

    Underneath different types of trees, a person may notice that there is not much other plant growth.
    This is something to take note of if a person is planning long-term.
    For example, the pine needle drop beneath the canopy with their attendant chemicals can inhibit other plant growth.
    Oaks with their acorns can do the same thing. Acorns contain a lot of tannins which will wash out into the soil following rains and thus inhibit plant growth. I’ve wasted a fair amount of money and time putting down sod grass below Oak trees.

    The barks from different varieties of trees can have herbal health benefits. Most people have heard of Willow bark (an aspirin like quality), but other barks such as pine, oak, catuaba, cinnamon, magnolia and others have been used for health benefits.
    Steve Smith and I talked about Olive Tree leaves the other week.

    Michael Hoffman mentioned “cuttings”.
    I don’t like spending time on maintenance. Here is what I’ve done with success. I spotted a Mulberry tree in a vacant lot 2-3 years ago. I cut off a variety of thin twig like branches. I put the small branches in about 5 pots of soil, with perhaps 3 or 4 twigs to a pot. I watered the pots. I took a clear empty one gallon water jug and cut off one end. I used this to make a “greenhouse” and weighted the top. I now have two 4-5 foot trees which I need to transplant.

    • HomeRemedySupply says:

      TERPENES are a large and diverse class of organic compounds produced by a variety of plants. Terpenes are what give each flower, herb and fruit its own unique scent and flavor…
      …There are more than 20,000 terpenes in existence…

      …some natural sources of alpha-pinene include pine trees, other coniferous trees, eucalyptus, sage, rosemary, frankincense and ironwort…

      …Our terpenes are extracted via steam, expression, or vacuum distillation methods and fractionally purified…
      …Using Terpenes…A little at a time – Terpenes can be added to aromatherapy blends, diffusers, lotions, edibles, tinctures, cocktails, homemade cleaners, bug repellents, plant extracts, etc…

      …It might surprise you to know that terpenes are used in the development of food flavorings, incense, cosmetic products, organic gardening products, household cleaners, natural medicines, and perfumes….

      Shop by Prominent Terpene, 100% Natural Terpenes, Terpene Effect or Terpene Flavor
      True Terpenes

  9. mkey says:

    Here’s what Mrs. Doubpfizer twatted about vaccines.

  10. lekp says:

    Pine needles contain suramin that Dr. Judy Mikovitz said is good for helping with autism. Also saw a cute story recently of a Chinese lady that collects maple leaves every fall and sells them tempura at a little cook stand she has. Even gave the recipe.
    I began my food forest a few years ago. I was surprised at how many perennial vegetables actually exist. Then mentally go around your yard to check the plants you already have to see if they’re edible, such as roses, day lilies, hostas, maple trees, etc.

  11. lekp says:

    One more suggestion. If you want a fruit or nut tree that isn’t self-fertile, still the first year just buy one. You never know if someone else in the area has a pollinator for it. And most of the nut trees will produce a smaller amount with just one tree. I was also thrilled last year when I found a self-pollinating almond tree. I think it was called “All-in-One”.

  12. alexb says:

    I’ve never thought about foraging pine but will certainly give this a go. There are many edible plants that occur naturally and I’m looking forward to late March / April, when the wild garlic comes out.

    You have to be careful when foraging and if you’re not 100% certain of whether a plant / fungus is edible, it’s better to leave them alone. Having said that, if you take the time to research edible plants / fungus you can mitigate a lot of risk by targeting easily identifiable varities, for example boletes. Fungus and plants do vary from location to location, rules that keep you safe in the UK and Europe might not apply in the US or Asia.

    Two sites I have found really useful for foraging: (UK) (Although Adam is based in US, watching some of his videos helped me safely identify common fungus here in the UK. For example the honey fungus, turkey tails and grey oyster mushrroms)

    • cu.h.j says:

      Good advice. If you’re not 100% sure, don’t eat it. People have destroyed their livers eating poisonous mushrooms.

      I took care of a patient who took some herbs she got from a Chinese medicine practitioner (this is what she told us anyway) and ended up needing a liver transplant. She got one because she would have died without it. But any herb or plant that a person does not trust, should not consume.

      Thanks for the link. I would like to be able to able to identify mushrooms in particular.

      • alexb says:

        You’re welcome, happy to be able to share them and my limited knowledge of foraging. I find foraging certainly adds to enjoying nature – it makes walking more fun.

        There are fungus here in the UK, like the destroying angel, that if you ate there is nothing anyone could do for you which is why you need to be very careful. Having said that, as long as you do your research for your location, you can target fungus which can be nothing else.

        For example the bolete family of fungus is a safe bet in the UK as there are no deadly boletes – some horribe stomach upsetting ones though but also many gourmet mushrooms like the porcini mushroom, in this family. The boletes have sponge like pores under the cap – nothing else does. The hedgehog fungus has firm flesh and tooth like spikes under the cap – nothing else does. If you do the research for your location bearing in mind the above is only applicable for the UK, you can safely enjoy free fungus.

        Some areas are lucky enough to have foraging clubs which have experienced foragers that can help impart their knowledge and keep you safe.

        Happy foraging

  13. yanm says:

    Hi folks !
    Being a professional arborist and permaculture fan, I would like to add this. 1st, cambium seems to gain in popularity. People shall know that when bark is removed on a tree, it becomes an opening for pathogens, especially on leaves trees (angiosperms). This will produce on mid to long term the tree to decay and perish if it can’t close the wound. Removing / harvesting cambium without having this in mind can be very harmful to a tree or forest. Also like Duck mentioned in previous comments, girdle (removal of bark on a 360 degree periphery will kill the tree. It’s like cutting the main artery of your heart.

    One should be able to clearly identify the tree he’s harvesting from. For example Yew (Taxus in latin which is the proper identification in botanic) which as been mentioned is highly toxic on some parts like needles, even though it’s fruits and other parts contain the most anti-cancer molecule called taxol. I would not eat those. Bottom line is: Know what you’re doing.

    As for nitrogen fixers mentioned, all the Locust family is. (Gleditsia, Gymnocladus, Robinia pseudoacacia)
    Remember that trees are living things and are precious.
    Cheers !

    • alexb says:

      Totally agree, you have to respect trees and other plants and try not to negatively impact upon them by causing tree death or over picking plants / fungus so that they do not return.

      Another thing worth mentioning about yew trees – you shouldn’t eat any fungus growing near their roots or on them (chicken of the woods) because they can take up the yew’s toxins. The flesh of the yew berry is said to be edible and delicious but the pips are poisonous.


  14. Steve Smith says:

    What a pleasant fellow and interview. And a subject very much a part of my daily life.
    I was taken aback at the cost of converting a suburban plot into a food forest but I am constantly underestimating how much money most people have these days.
    Fortunately, you can avoid much of that cost by doing a lot of work and having lots of patience. You just don’t get instant results and things might be a little rougher around the edges.
    But I like it that way.

    One thing that I have come to believe is that there is never a need to buy fertilizer or mulch if you treat your land the same way that nature treats the land.
    There isn’t anything that the land produces that I consider waste. Therefore everything that grows here stays here. One way or the other. Compost, worms, bio-char or simply chop and drop. When I have to deal with big limbs then I make Hugelmounds.
    Supplemented by animal byproducts like chicken manure and worm castings and the energy from the sun. I figure that the soil can only get better. As long as its not poisoned by chemicals.

    I have been in this house for almost seven years and when we moved in, we had almost all of the trees removed. Mostly because they were non fruit bearing and many were planted too close to the foundation or were weak and dangerous. We did keep the big live oak in the front though. It gives me free bee colonies every spring.
    So I almost had a blank slate to begin with.

    Today I have two mangoes that produce more than I can consume. An avocado that started producing last year. A star fruit that produces almost year round. That one is located above the chicken run. They eat everything that I don’t. There’s lemons, tangerine, figs, coconut, olive, lychee. loquat, macadamia, kratom, moringa, date, Concord grape and bananas. There’s dragon fruit, pineapples, papayas, perennial spinach, sweet potatoes, oregano, peppermint, chives and turmeric. Plus all the annual stuff.
    My wife keeps telling me that I don’t have any room for more trees. I keep surprising her.

    I agree with Duck about the sprouts too. Good advice.
    I was growing sprouts and making my own yogurt thirty years ago when I was sailing. I still keep jars and seeds on hand.

  15. nc says:

    Producing your own food, that’s mighty. A good solution. This permaculture method is one way, but not the only way; €20k, no, no, no, no, no. Go and start growing anthing, in any manner that grows food. Put foot to sod.

    Check out David the Good fir example; hes not a radical fanatic for any one method and just grows food for him and his 10 kids the cheapest way possible;

    Grocery row gardens, permy style, to single row old school farming crops.

    Want fruit trees, pluck the seeds from bought fruits and grow them. I have over 100, 1 year old seedlings like this growing around the place, apple, cherry, pear. Simple stuff on mass. It’s €25 to buy a potted fruit tree, €15 bare root if you can get it. Hazelnuts can’t be got here this year; but I have seedlings.

    Keep your conkers, and grow chestnut trees. Learn to prune and root. €10 per potted black current seedling in shops this year, I got 30 seedlings rooted and growing last year from trimmings, and they are easy.

    Grow spuds, and high calorie crops and roots. Get your beds started, a bit of every method gives you anti fragility.

    It’s very satisfying and enjoyable when you get into it, and cook meals from your garden to feed your family. Your becoming more independent and you learn new skills. Keep learning!


  16. Aodh says:

    This is the sort of thing that really enthuses me…foraging, self sufficiency, natural abundance. What a welcome blast of positivity.
    Much appreciated James and Michael.

  17. kimjam says:

    Foraging is great! Thanks for the pine tree talk. I make pine needle tea regularly and eat the needles as well as use them for mulch in the landscaping. Please look up how to make tea before you try. Michael also referenced rose hips. If you’re not careful, you end up racing to the bathroom. Don’t ask me how I know. Keep on learning.

  18. Octium says:

    I prefer the term self-sufficient over sustainability. Because self-sufficiency is selfish – IE it’s all for your own benefit so there is a strong motivation to succeed. You’re not trying to save a “planet” that doesn’t give a damn about you anyway (just ask anyone who has been buried under a volcanic eruption)

    Self sufficiency is about sourcing resources locally as much as possible, from an environmental point of view if you pollute or deplete your local resources you will have to resort to importing your needs ( so you will have failed at self-sufficiency)

    Any successful self-sufficiently plan will look after the environment anyway so we don’t need “sustainability”

  19. beaudarc says:

    off topic , but still.
    Some time ago James noted that what really changes things in the world is the right story. Get a particular idea infested in enough brains, and the world changes. That, I submit, is precisely what is occurring, real time, now, with of all things, the Canadian Trucker Convoy. Of course the way to infest brains is not generally through presentation of facts and information. That only works on a minority of people with brains so disposed.
    This is actually from 2020, so the ideas have been fermenting awhile.

  20. Steve Smith says:


    I’d not heard of David the Good before. But he seems to be a very practical gardener with good advice.
    And ten kids! Wow.
    Pretty funny too.

  21. beaudarc says:

    Times like this I am so glad that I was a kid raised in the countryside by an old man that had this all sussed out 50 years ago. Independence he called it. I honestly didn’t eat a vegetable bought from a store until I was 20 and moved from home. Old man did his forty hours at factory, then at least another forty, growing garden, raising pigs and cows and feeding 7 kids with food grown, not bought. You don’t know what you had till it aint.

  22. rob.h says:

    Internet gold as usual. Keep the solutions coming!! Thanks for all your hard work!!

  23. DR says:

    Thank you James!!!
    This is what we all need to keep us inspired!

  24. anniees says:

    French-Canadian brewers still make pine and spruce beer here. Yummy and nutritious beer – gotta love it! Some with and some without alcohol. My dad hates it. My mother, who despises the idea of living on a farm or living of the land somehow, is the one who introduced me to this delightful beverage. I sometimes wonder about her.

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