Edward Michael “Bear” Grylls is likely the world’s most famous survivalist and adventurer. Born in London, England in 1974, he developed an interest in sailing and climbing at a young age, and upon entering his teenage years learned how to skydive.
Following school, Grylls hiked the Himalayan mountains, before enlisting in the Territorial Army with the 21 Special Air Service Regiment (Artists) (Reserve) – better known as The Artists Rifles. It was during this time that he learned many of his survival skills and received training in desert and winter warfare, unarmed combat and parachuting.
When he was just 23 years old, Grylls achieved his life-long dream of climbing Mount Everest. Following this, he circumnavigated the British Isles on jet skis, crossed the north Atlantic Ocean in an open rigid inflatable boat (RIB), paramotored over the Himalayas and climbed mountain peaks in the Antarctic.
Grylls became a popular public figure in 2006 with the release of the Discovery Channel reality series, Man vs. Wild (2006-11). Running for seven seasons, the show featured Grylls and his camera crew being thrown into a number of different circumstances, with little to no supplies.
The idea was for him to fend for himself and figure out how to find his way back to civilization. A number of special guests also appeared on the show with Grylls, including actors Will Ferrell and Jake Gyllenhaal.
When asked by Entertainment Weekly about what he’d like people to know about the show, he said:
“I suppose to bear in mind that this is a worst-case scenario show, and therefore, of course things have to be planned. Otherwise, it would just be me in the wild and nothing happening, you know, ’cause textbook survival says you land, you get yourself comfortable, you wait for rescue, you don’t do anything. It would be a very boring show.
“The show is how to deal if you fall into quick sand, if you get attacked by an alligator, if you have to make a raft. I get a really good briefing before we go. I know there’s a big river there, there’s gonna be a great cliff climb there, there’s loads of snakes in those rocks, watch out for an alligator. So I do have a good idea of 80 percent of what’s gonna happen.”
One of the most popular aspects of Grylls’ show and his subsequent endeavors was him having to eat strange and unusual foods in order to survive. Over the course of his career, he’s eaten a moose heart, a yak’s eyeballs, a poisonous spider, a snake and a larva beetle. He’s also drank his own urine, yak and reindeer blood, and elephant poop.
According to Grylls, none of what he’s eaten has been particularly tasty. When asked which meal was the grossest, he responded:
“There’s been a long list of pretty disgusting foods over the years and if I’ve learned anything, it’s survival food is never pretty and is rarely gonna taste good. Some of the worst? There’s been a long list from raw goat’s testicles to camel intestinal fluids to rat brain to yak eyeballs to snakes, scorpions, tarantulas, maggots, grubs and worms — you name it.”
This led to a pretty interesting follow-up question: has he ever eaten something in the wild that’s tasted good? The answer appears to be no. “Rarely,” he said. “I mean, anus isn’t going to sneak up and surprise you and be a pleasant experience, but sometimes you’ve gotta do the unimaginable.”
If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that we’re in no rush to taste test anything Grylls has tried on his adventures…