The short answer is: It is complicated. The Icelandic constitution says that anyone can live off government land property but that only means berries, mushroom, Icelandic moss, seaweed and the like. It does not mean you can fish or hunt game since all animals in Iceland are protected unless otherwise stated or you got a hunting licence.
What can you eat in Icelandic nature?
Icelanders aren’t as lucky as their friends in many other places for we do not have any fruit trees. A few people have started growing apple and pear trees in their gardens, but you won’t find those out in the open.
We do, however, have many different kinds of berries such as blueberries, whortleberries, and strawberries. You will also find crowberries and rock brambles (which look a bit like a cross between red currant and raspberries). People also grow black currant, red currant and raspberries but you will not find them out in the wild.
Herbs and spices
Herbs and spices grow wild in Icelandic fields, and you can find creeping thyme (also called the ever so punny name wild thyme) and alpine lady’s mantle (which is good for a sore throat). Additionally, chervil, lupine and angelica grow wild around the country.
You will find many kinds of seaweeds at the beach. Of that, Dulse is very popular, and some people call vertebrata lanosa the truffles of the north because they have a similar taste.
If you know mushrooms, you can pick them at will, but if you’re not sure about them, it can be dangerous.
What is not allowed?
You cannot hunt animals. You can catch fish in the sea, but you can’t catch salmon, trout or any other fish in rivers and lakes unless you have a fishing permit (which is expensive). It’s the same with birds, and you definitely cannot hunt lambs, horses, cows or any other domestic animals. They are all privately owned. Reindeer are also off limit. You need to apply for a hunting licence, and it can take up to three years to get permission to use a gun in Iceland.
What does this mean?
It means you will need to buy most of your food. You will not be able to forage enough food for you to survive with Iceland. However, please do forage for spices, berries and other similar things. They are quite delicious.Back to blog