Friday, January 24, 2014

Foraging or Looting - Semantics or Intent?

I subscribe to a preparedness newsletter and one of the articles this past fall was about looting.  As I started reading the article I was prepared to be offended because looting is bad – right?  However, the article questioned the difference between looting, which I perceive to be bad, and foraging, which I perceive to be good and in fact a very desirable trait.  I asked some friends about the two words and their meanings and my friends all came up with the difference between them being the person’s intent.
Looting after an NHL playoff game to celebrate or in anger at the result of the game, in my opinion should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  It serves no purpose, only irresponsibility and willful destruction of property. 
                On the other hand an example of foraging can be found in the Hollywood blockbuster from 2004 “The Day After Tomorrow” where a young Jake Gyllenhall playing the character of Sam Hall sheltered with friends in the New York Public library after New York had both been flooded and then frozen solid by global storms that pulled cold air out of the higher levels of the atmosphere.  To stay warm they gathered books from the library and tore them apart and burned them or stuffed them into their shirts to keep warm.   Foraging or looting?  Later in the movie, in an attempt to obtain penicillin to fight the infection of his sweetheart cut her leg, Gyllenhall as Sam Hall and two friends left the warmth of the library to search the ship that had floated through the flooded streets of New York and came to a rest in front of the library.  They broke into the ship to search for the medicine they needed causing destruction to accomplish their task.  Foraging or looting?
                I liked the answer my friends gave – the difference between foraging and looting likely is intent and the result likely is quite different.  You loot with no or little intent to use items in a life sustaining manner whereas you forage for exactly that reason.  Some of the items on my foraging list may include (based on circumstances):
-          Food, or more food than I have stored
-          Wood or other flammable items for cooking and heat
-          Medicines
-          Shelter, tents or lean to or snow caves or such
What items are on your foraging list

This post by Deanna from Briden Solutions - Proudly helping Canadians obtain high quality Survival supplies. 


  1. I would argue that the difference between foraging and looting is ownership and permission. If there are berries in the middle of the woods that no one owns, that is foraging. If there are berries on a neighbour's property and you take them without permission, that is looting. If you first obtain permission from the neighbour to gather the berries, that is foraging.

    Lines get blurred when the forager/looter's need is great (medicine, wood, shelter) and the perceived ownership of the items in question (medicine on an empty ship could be considered owned by the company or military that purchased them, or they could be 'fair game' as they were abandoned by the crew). This is a difficult line to crystallize, especially when someone's life is on the line. If it's just a bout of social anarchy and someone decides they want the TV they see in a store, the line is pretty easy to see.

  2. Semantics, and subjective based on whether you're the looter or the lootee imo.

    I don't have a foraging list, if I couldn't provide my family the essentials of life then I'd loot/steal whatever we needed at the time. I'd expect the owner (or maybe other looters) to use deadly force to stop me, as I would them if the situation were reversed.

    Not to sound flippant, but do you also have a list of items you wouldn't care if people foraged from you?

  3. I'd say it's between want and need.
    You can come up with thousands of different situations.

    One, say there was a new pandemic and most the people in your area are dead, I'm fine with hitting the neighbors house for supplies if I'm in need and they are dead.
    Hell, I'm fine with my place being emptied
    if I'm dead because I can't take it with me.

    If the owners are dead for whatever reason it's fair game
    if the owners are gone, away or your know they are alive IMO that is looting.


  4. tootrack I believe has it correct depends on which side of the transaction you are on--further the distinction only exists where ther is rule of law--post apocalyptic--call it whatever you want, where the rule of law will be dictated by whoever has the most power