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Lesson 4: Battling Hunger to Stay Alive
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Introduction: Battling Hunger to Stay Alive

Just like in real life, you have to eat in Minecraft to stay alive. You'll only be able to last a day or so without food when you play survival mode. There are various ways to get what you need; growing crops, raising animals, and fishing are great ways to always have something on hand to eat.

As mentioned in Minecraft Basics, your heads-up display shows health, hunger, experience, and your 9 hotbar slots. When it comes to staying alive, your health and hunger both play a part.

Health is made up of 10 hearts which are each made up of 2 halves giving you 20 health points (HPs) total. Falling, burning, starving, and being attacked my mobs will cause your hearts to go down in different amounts. If you run out of hearts, you will die and reappear at your spawn point (which is your bed if you have crafted one and slept in it).

The hunger bar is made up of 10 drumsticks (the OzoCraft resource pack changes the drumsticks to green apples as you will see in my images). Each drumstick, like the hearts, is made up of 2 halves making it so you have 20 hunger points. Your hunger bar will deplete as time passes and will go down faster if you sprint or do anything like chop down trees or mine ores.

Your hunger bar can actually help restore your health points, but there is a cost. Below is a breakdown of how they affect each other.

Hunger PointsAffect on Health Points (HP)
20 (10 drumsticks)Increase health by 1 HP every 1/2 second at a cost of 1 hunger point/1 HP gained
18 (9 drumsticks)Increase health by 1 HP every 4 seconds at a cost of 1 hunger point/1 HP gained
17 (8 drumsticks) and belowHealth will not automatically regenerate in Normal or Hard difficulties
6 (3 drumsticks) and belowCan no longer sprint
0Decrease health by 1 HP every 4 seconds; on easy, stops at 10 HP; on normal, stops at 1 HP; on hard, decreases until you die

Another thing that affects your health and hunger is Saturation. I'm only going to mention this briefly as it is hard to keep track of because your saturation level is invisible. The only ways to know what your level is is to try to keep track yourself or watch your hunger bar. When your saturation level is at 0, your hunger bar will shake periodically. If you see this happening, it means your hunger bar can and will start depleting. Eating food replenishes your hunger bar and your saturation, but not equally. I won't be covering this going forward, but wanted to bring it up because this little indication will let you know when your hunger will start depleting and your saturation is involved in some status effects I'll mention later.

When you first start playing the game, you'll be breaking down a lot of trees to build up your wood supply. If you destroy Oak and Dark Oak trees, don't forget to check as the leaves disappear as sometimes an Apple will drop. Eating it will refill 4 hunger points (you will never actually see apples in trees, they will just either drop from leaves or they won't).

How to Eat

When you eat, the food will appear in the center of the screen like you have brought it up to your mouth.

To eat food, you need to have the food you want to eat in your hotbar and select it. Click and hold the right mouse button to start eating. Once you click, your hand will bring the food in front of your face and sounds and actions will imitate eating until you have consumed the food. If you are holding a stack of bread and continue to hold down the right mouse button, you'll just keep eating pieces of bread until you are full.


Growing Crops and Other Plants

Farming is a great way to always have food on hand as it is really easy to do. To get started you are going to need a hoe, dirt, access to water, light, and what you want to plant.

Useful farming items (L to R): Iron Bucket, Hoe, and Bowl.

Creating Farmland

Use a hoe to turn dirt into farmland and then you'll be able to plant your seeds and other crops.

In Minecraft, you can grow wheat, carrots, potatoes, beetroot, pumpkins, and melons. They all require Farmland to grow which is created by using a Hoe (right click) on dirt or grass. If you don't have any water nearby, the farmland will dry out and you'll have to re-hoe it to make it so you can plant on it.

Keeping Crops Hydrated

Though plants need water to grow, you won't actually have to water them. Instead, the farmland needs to be within 4 blocks of water. The most space-saving method for farming is to plot out a 9 by 9 section of farmland with a single block in the middle removed and replaced with water. You can transport water to where you need it using an Iron Bucket. If you aren't far enough along in the game to have iron to spare, your other option is to actually farm right next to the water or dig trenches from water to get it to flow where you want it.

In villages, you'll always see rows of farmland right next to rows of water. This is more aesthetically pleasing and the crops actually grow better because the closer a crop is to water, the faster it grows. Also, if you plant rows of crops next to rows of empty farmland or rows of another type of crop, your crops will grow better. So, growing a 9 by 9 area of just wheat is not ideal.

Endless Water Supply

Once you have your infinite water source, you will be able to continuously take water from it and it will always refresh itself. Shown here is the 1 by 3 block method where you can always take from the center water spot.

To always have water on hand, you can create an Endless Water Supply. One thing to keep in mind about collecting water is you can only collect water using an iron bucket from water that is still. If it is flowing, you won't be able to fill your bucket.

All you need is to dig a row of three squares. Using two buckets of water, fill each end, not the middle. This should cause the water to flow into the middle spot and then stop flowing, and that's what you want. Now, you can always use a bucket to gather water from the center square (you have to take from the center square or it won't work). The water will always refill and stop flowing giving you an endless supply of water.

For a more aesthetically pleasing infinite water supply, dig out a 2 by 2 square. This setup is also nice because you can take water from any of the 4 spots and it will always refill. You'll actually find these set up as wells in villages and in deserts.

Light

The other thing you have to have to grow crops is light. This makes outdoors the ideal place to grow them, but it doesn't mean you can't grow them inside. Skylights and torches will enable you to grow plants anywhere you want.

You can also place torches (or other light sources) around plants outside so they will continue to grow even when the sun goes down.

Staple Crops

Staple crops shown fully grown and their drops when harvested (L to R): Wheat, Beetroot, Carrot, and Potato.

The staple crops of Minecraft are Wheat, Beetroot, Carrots and Potatoes. If you try to harvest them before they are fully grown, the crop will only drop whatever you used to plant it (seeds or the crop itself) and you won't have gained anything.

Unfortunately, you'll only be able to gather wheat seeds easily as they can be found just by breaking grass. The other three staple crops will be easiest to obtain from village gardens. Below you can find a breakdown of these plants and what you need to know about farming and using them.

FoodTo GrowDropsWhen EatenCrafting Foods
WheatPlant seeds.
Obtain by breaking grass.
0 - 3 Seeds and 1 Wheat-Bread - 5 points
Cake* - 1 slice = 2 points
BeetrootPlant beetroot seeds.
Harvest beetroot from village gardens.
1 Beetroot and possibly Beetroot Seeds1 pointBeetroot Soup - 6 points
CarrotPlant a carrot.
Harvest from village gardens or get from a rare drop from killing a Zombie.
1 - 4 Carrots3 pointsRabbit Stew - 10 points
Potato Plant a potato.
Harvest from village gardens or get from a rare drop from killing a Zombie.
1 - 4 PotatoesRaw: 1/2 point
Baked Potato: 5 points
Rabbit Stew - 10 points

*A cake is eaten differently than other foods in the game, as you don't use it to eat it. Instead, you have to set it down on another block first. To eat it, click on the cake to "use" it (do not hold the right mouse button, you just need to click once to eat 1 slice). It is made up of 7 slices and once you have eaten all of the pieces, the cake will disappear. Once you set the cake down, it cannot be picked back up. You just have to eat it all.

Jumping onto a crop will cause it to be broken/harvested whether it is fully grown or not. So, walk carefully around your plants. Also, adding fences can keep animals and other mobs out of your plants as well as make the area look nicer.

Pumpkin and Melon

Crafting (L to R): Pumpkin to Pumpkin Seeds, Watermelon Slice to Watermelon Seeds, and Watermelon Slices to full Watermelon.

Pumpkins and Watermelons are other plants you can grow for food, but they are grown a bit differently than the staple crops above. They still require water, farmland to be planted on, and they are both grown using seeds, but unlike the other crops, they do not appear on the space they are planted. Their seeds must be placed on farmland, which is where a stem will grow. The melon/pumpkin will appear on an adjacent unoccupied dirt/farmland block when it is fully grown. When harvested, destroy the actual food to obtain it and leave the stem. The stem will stay and continue to grow over and over again without any need to replant it.

If there is no space around the spot you planted the seed, the pumpkin or melon will never grow.

FoodTo GrowDropsWhen EatenCrafting Foods
PumpkinPlant pumpkin seeds.
Gather pumpkins - found anywhere there is grass.
Craft pumpkin into 4 pumpkin seeds.
1 full Pumpkin-Pumpkin Pie - 8 hunger points
WatermelonPlant watermelon seeds.
Gather watermelons - found growing only in Jungle biomes.
Seeds sometimes found in chests in mines.
Craft melon pieces into melon seeds.
3-7 Melon Pieces2 hunger points-

Sugar Cane

Sugar cane must be grown on a block that is touching water.

A food that you might want to consider farming, but isn't as important as the foods listed above is Sugar Cane.

It can be found growing naturally near water sources. If you want to farm some yourself, you just place the plant itself right next to water. It is the only way you'll even be able to place it.

Once you have placed it, walk away and come back to check on it later. It will grow up to 3 blocks high. As soon as it gets above one block, you can harvest any of the pieces, just make sure you leave the base if you want it to keep regrowing. You cannot eat it, or even use it for food in its natural state, but you can craft it to make Sugar which is used to make pumpkin pie and cake.

Cocoa

Cocoa beans can only grow on jungle wood.

Another food that you might want to add to your farm is Cocoa Beans.

They are hard to obtain because Cocoa Pods only appear on jungle wood trees in jungle biomes. In order to grow them where you want them, you need to either grow a jungle wood tree near your shelter or simply place blocks of jungle wood.

Plant the cocoa beans on any exposed side of the wood and they will grow. It will appear green when planted on the tree, change to yellow as it grows, and will turn orange when it is fully grown. When harvested, you will get 3 cocoa beans. Unfortunately, it cannot be eaten as is and the only food it can be used to craft is Cookies. A single cookie will refill 2 hunger points.

Mushrooms

The last food to consider farming, or to at least collect while out exploring, is Mushrooms. There are two basic types: brown and red.

Unlike the other plants, they want darkness to grow and do not require farmland. You can usually find them naturally growing inside caves and in the shade of a tree. They can be found abundantly in swamp and mushroom island biomes. To grow them yourself, you will need to create a dark area (if torches are too close or they are exposed to direct sunlight, they will not grow) made up of dirt and plant a mushroom or two on dirt. They will only spread if there are less than 5 mushrooms in a 9 by 9 area.

They are also easy to obtain by shearing mooshrooms (you will learn more about these animals below). You can use one of each kind of mushroom plus a bowl to make Mushroom Soup.

Below you can see how to craft the various foods I've been talking about using the different plants you can grow.

Crafting. Row 1 (L to R): Bread, Cake, and Beetroot Soup.
Row 2: Rabbit Stew, Cooking Potato to a Baked Potato, and Pumpkin Pie.
Row 3 : Sugar Cane to Sugar, Cookie, and Mushroom Stew.


Farming Animals

Another great way to refill your hunger points is to eat meat. You can kill random animals as you see them, but collecting them together on a farm and breeding them can ensure you have a renewable source of food.

Killing a baby version of any of the animals listed won't get you anything, so it is best to just let them grow to adulthood.

How to craft items that are helpful when raising animals. Row 1 (L to R): Gate and Fence.
Row 2: Shears and Lead.

Leads

You can use leads on any of the animals mentioned in this lesson. It is easier to make animals go where you want them using leads rather than luring them with food, but it can be harder to craft leads because you need a slimeball and lots of string to make them. You can lead around multiple animals at once, but you need a lead for each animal you are taking with you.

You can also attach leads to some objects like fenceposts and the animals won't be able to get away. You can break the knot to set them free.

Chickens

To lure any animal, all you have to do is hold the food that attracts them. Any animal that can see you will turn to look at you and will follow you when you walk away.

Chickens are a great animal to start with as they will provide eggs while they are alive and will drop 1 Raw Chicken (plus 0-2 feathers) when killed. The raw chicken can be eaten as it is to restore 2 hunger points, but it also has a 30% chance of giving you food poisoning.

When you have Food Poisoning (also referred to as Hunger status effect; you can also get this from eating rotten flesh), you will see little green circles float up in front of you and your hunger bar will change colors to look like rotten food. When it is over, everything goes back to normal. Cooked Chicken can be made using the furnace and eating that will restore 6 hunger points.

When you have Food Poisoning/Hnger, your hunger bar turns a sickly green color and little circles of green float up in your vision.

You can use seeds (wheat, beetroot, pumpkin, or melon will work) to lure chickens where you want them and fence them in. Once you have your chickens, you can feed seeds to two adult chickens right next to each other and they will enter "love mode" and breed with each other to produce 1 baby chicken. They will grow to be adults in 20 minutes, but this time can be sped up if you feed them more seeds. You can also try throwing an egg and breaking it to produce a baby chicken, but there is only a 1 in 8 chance that this will work.

To breed any animal, take the correct food (seeds for chickens) and feed each of the adult animals. You will need two pieces of food, one for each animal. Hearts will appear above their heads after you feed them and then a baby version of them will appear under them once they have bred.

Sheep

Sheep are another great animal to have on your farm because you can get 1 to 3 pieces of Wool when you use Shears on them. They will always regrow their wool.

If you kill a sheep, it will drop just 1 piece of wool and 1 or 2 pieces of Raw Mutton. It can be eaten for 2 hunger points or cooked to make Cooked Mutton which restores 6 hunger points.

You can dye a sheep directly by using any dyes on them; any wool sheared from them will be that color.

Use wheat to lure and breed sheep to make a lamb which cannot be sheared. When breeding sheep, the baby will either be the same color as the parents, or a different color if the parents have compatible wood colors: a red sheep and yellow sheep will produce an orange lamb.

Cow

Cows are another animal that will provide for you dead or alive.

You can get Milk from a cow by using an Iron Bucket on one. You can drink the milk to cancel any status effects on you (such as food poisoning) but it does not restore any hunger points. Instead, I suggest saving it to make a cake.

When killed, a cow will drop 0 to 3 pieces of Leather (used to make armor, covered in Combating Mobs) and 1 to 3 pieces of Raw Beef. Eat it to restore 3 hunger points or cook it to make Steak which restores 8 hunger points.

Lure and breed cows using wheat.

Pig

Pigs will provide you with 1 to 3 Raw Porkchops when killed. Eat it to restore 3 hunger points or cook it to restore 8 hunger points.

They can be lured and bred using carrots, potatoes, or beetroots.

Rabbit

A harder to find animal that might be more difficult to add to your farm is a Rabbit. While the other animals listed are found in most plains and forest areas, a rabbit is found in certain forests, the desert, and some mountain biomes.

Killing one will give you 0 or 1 Rabbit Hide (craft 4 together to make a piece of Leather), and 0 or 1 Raw Rabbit. Eat the raw rabbit to restore 3 hunger points or cook it for 5 hunger points. It can also be used to make rabbit stew.

Lure and breed them using carrots or dandelions.

Mooshroom

The last animal you could consider adding to your farm (if you can find them) is the Mooshroom.

They are only found in mushroom island biomes; because of the way the game randomly generates worlds, the mushroom "island" can actually be attached to other biomes or they could be actual islands in the middle of the sea.

While similar in shape to the cows, they are red and white, and have mushrooms growing out of their back. If you use your shears on one, it will drop 1 to 3 mushrooms, but then it will just be a normal cow. It cannot go back to being a mooshroom. Like a cow, you can use an iron bucket on one to get milk, but if you use a wooden bowl you get Mushroom Stew which will restore 6 hunger points when eaten. If you kill one, it will drop 0 to 2 pieces of leather and 1 to 3 pieces of raw beef. (If you are going to kill one, I suggest shearing it first to get the mushrooms, and then kill the cow that remains to get raw beef, and possibly leather.)

Use wheat to lure and breed mooshrooms. The babies will be the same red and white of the parents, but won't grow mushrooms on its back until it becomes an adult.

Cooking Meat in the Furnace

When cooking any meats with the furnace, if you stack up to 64 of the same raw meats to cook at once. It will continue to cook them until it runs out of meat to cook, the fire goes out, or the stack on the right reaches 64.

You can also only cook one type of meat at a time because unlike meats won't stack. For example, you could cook a bunch of chicken, and if you decide you want to cook some rabbit, you can put it above the flame image, but it won't start cooking until you remove the cooked chicken on the right.

Using the furnace to cook meat. Row 1 (L to R): Chicken, Mutton, and Beef.
Row 2: Porkchop and Rabbit.


Fishing for Food

If you are setting up your shelter near a body of water, fishing is a great source of food. In order to fish you will need a Fishing Rod.

It can also be helpful to have a Boat. Though, where you fish, the size of the body of water, and how deep the water is doesn't change what you will catch. To the game, it's all the same. Once you create a boat, place it like you would use an item, then "use" the boat to get into it. Clicking shift will get you back out of the boat. Going straight you will generate more momentum, so if you are trying to actually get somewhere in a boat, try to point the direction you need and just go. Unfortunately, boats can bit a bit fragile, so make sure you don't ram into land or squids.

Once you have your supplies, fishing is pretty simple. Get near the body of water you want to fish in and "use" the rod to cast the line out. You will see a line going out from your rod into the water with a bobber appearing where you are fishing. Now, you have to pay attention if you want to catch anything.

You can move after you have cast the line out, but if you move too far away from the bobber it will automatically reel in. Also, the fishing rod, like any other tool, takes damage when it's used. Eventually, the rod will break, or you can combine 2 damaged fishing rods to get a single improved rod.

When a fish is ready to bite, you'll see a trail of bubbles head towards the bobber. As soon as you see the bobber dip, you need to right click to reel it back in. If you are successful, the line will come back in and whatever you caught will fly right at you and it should show right up in your inventory. If you are not successful, the rod will still reel back in, but you won't get anything. Cast to try again.

There are four types of fish you have a chance of catching: fish, salmon, pufferfish, and clownfish.

Row 1 (L to R): Crafting Fishing Rod and Cooking Fish.
Row 2 (L to R): Crafting Boat and Cooking Salmon.

You are most likely to catch a basic Fish. It can be eaten to refill 2 hunger points or cooked in the furnace first and it will then refill 5 hunger points. Next in probability of catching is the Salmon. Eating this fish also refills 2 hunger points while a cooked one refills 6 hunger points.

The following two fish are the only others you can catch, but I do not advise eating them. The Pufferfish is a rare catch. It is good as a brewing ingredient but pretty worthless as food as it only refills 1 hunger point when eaten and inflicts you with Hunger III, Nausea II, and Poison IV. Since these effects will almost kill you, even when desperate you should not eat a Pufferfish. It also cannot be cooked.

Lastly, there is the Clownfish. Like the pufferfish, it cannot be cooked and only refills 1 hunger when eaten, but at least it won't kill you.

Status EffectDescriptionTime
Nausea IITwists and warps your vision15 seconds
Hunger IIIDecrease hunger by 1 HP about every 14 seconds once saturation is down to 015 seconds
Poison IVReduces health by 1 HP about every 15 seconds; effect stops hurting you at 1 HP1 minute

Get Ready to Fight!

Now that you know how to keep yourself alive by eating and how protect yourself at night to avoid mobs, it is time to learn how to face them! You can try to stay away from them as much as you want, but eventually you will run into one when you venture underground to gather your ores if not before.

It can seem intimidating, but if you are prepared and know what you are going to be facing and how to defeat them, the situation will seem much more manageable.

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