Can humans eat grass (6 Facts you didn’t know)

If you had no other options could you survive starvation by eating grass?

Grass is available everywhere. It is in front of every house, at every park, and covers the forest floor. Grass may be abundant, but it does not taste great and there are other options. The question is can humans eat grass to avoid starvation?

Grass may not be the best option even if you are starving. 

Let’s explore the possibilities

Green grass

Can eating grass kill you?

Eating grass from a lawn will not kill you. The grass is edible and non-toxic. 

Common lawn grasses will however cause you to get sick if eaten. The grass is made primarily of cellulose and the human body cannot digest it. Common issues include vomiting and diarrhea. 

Grazing animals like cows do not get sick or harmed from eating grass because of how their stomachs work. A cow chews its grass and moves it to the first section of its stomach. The cow has four sections in its stomach. Each section has a specific job that helps the animal further digest the grass. 

The cows four stomachs include:

  1. Rumen — microbes break down solid and liquid material then regurgitate it to be eaten again
  2. Reticulum — secondary section of the rumen that breaks down the regurgitated food
  3. Omasum — water and minerals are digested
  4. Abomasum — final step of digestion

Because of how their stomachs are made, cows can digest the cellulose in grass. If you were to eat grass the grass would likely come out looking the same as it did going in. 

Can people eat grass to avoid starvation?

You cannot eat grass to avoid starvation as there is no nutritional value in the grass. A cow has to eat an average of 30 pounds of grass to pull enough nutrition from grass. 

Cows grazing

If you were to eat the same amount as a cow you would need to eat 7 pounds of grass a day. 

You can eat the seeds at the root of some grass types to avoid starvation. If the seed is black or purple it is considered lethal and those seeds should be avoided due to mold. 

To ingest grass safely, dry the grass and grind it into a powder. It works as a bulking agent similar to grain. It has no nutritional value but will make you feel full.  

You cannot eat lawn grass to avoid starvation, but grains are considered grass, and some grasses are considered nutritious. Common types of edible grass include:

  • Wheat grass
  • Alfalfa grass
  • Barley grass
  • Oat grass

Eating grass may make your starvation worse because of how sick you can get from it. Vomiting and diarrhea cause dehydration and could put you in a worse position than you were in before. 

Sick girl after eating grass
Sick girl after eating grass

Will anything happen if you eat grass?

Eating grass will not only cause you to feel sick, but it will also affect your teeth. The grass is filled with Silica, a highly abrasive material. 

Silica will ruin your teeth by breaking down the enamel. The only reason the silica does not ruin the cow’s teeth is that they are made to grow back. 

What about eating tree leaves instead of grass?

Eating tree leaves instead of grass will not put you in a better position. Tree leaves are made with similar material to grass and have no nutritional value. Tree leaves also have a waxy protective coating making them less appealing to eat. 

There are many other options in nature to eat before grass or tree leaves are considered. 

Is cooked grass safe to eat?

Cooked grass is safe to eat but will not improve the grass in any way. Cooking grass will not break down the cellulose in the grass enough to make it digestible. It will also not soften the grass or make the grass taste any better.

Are there alternatives to eating grass that won’t harm you?

There are many alternatives to eating grass in the wild. You can forage for nuts, berries, and edible plants. 

Common edible plants include: 

  • Berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cherries are all common in North America. 
  • Nuts like pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, chestnuts, acorns, and pine nuts (pine nuts can be found in the center of pine cones but only the Ponderosa pine and pinon pine are edible). 
  • Weeds including dandelions, Nettles, bristle grass, and clovers are all common in North America.

Make sure you know what plant you are eating. Be careful to avoid plants you are unfamiliar with as they may be poisonous.

Green grass
green grass close up

Final Thoughts About Eating Grass

If there is no other option but to eat grass or starve it may be in your best interest to avoid eating the grass. There is no nutritional value, and it can make you sick. 

It is best to look for other edible options like berries, nuts, or weeds. The plants listed above are all common in North America and provide a much better nutritional source. 

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