I was fascinated by the cloud the farmer kept anchored to the door of his shack:
"It's very docile," he explained, "and we milk it three times a week. That's all the land needs."
- Rafael Perez Estrada
(all photo and video credits to Whole Larder Love and Rohan Anderson)
I entreat you to check out my most recent beloved, admired and firmly, deeply appreciated electronic mentor, Rohan Anderson. A wise friend recommended I check out his blog WholeLarderLove, and I have been happily devouring away ever since.
(Sadly with eyes alone, something my tongue and belly have yet to forgive me for.)
Rohan is not your typical preacher of the 'hunt, gather, grow' lifestyle. Let's explore his atypicality, list-style:
1.) He actually does hunt, gather and grow. All of the time. He hunts game, gathers wild herbs and fungi, grows heaps of vegetables and designs the means to jar/can/dry/smoke/cure them to feed himself and his family in a sustainable, seasonal manner. He meets his meat before it's meat to create self-accountability in his consumption practices.
2.) He is a gifted photographer. His images of his food and processes are a mixture of authenticity and ingenuity that make you yearn for a simpler, fresher, cleaner way of life and nostalgic for your grandparents' youth.
3.) There is nothing macho or chauvinist in his attitude toward his outdoor endeavours - his blog is perfectly readable and highly recommended for every gender/race/sexuality/nationality/religion/person. Basically, if you like earth, you'll like him.
4.) He is raising his children to be responsible consumers. They know that pork comes from pigs and carrots from the ground. They even fed that piggy themselves before he fed them, and they planted the seeds that grew their carrots. We're all old and stuck in our ways, but children? Children keep us accountable. They will right wrongs, fix mistakes and constantly improve, improve, improve our future. Kids are powerful. Powerful and awesome. That's why it's so refreshingly reassuring to hear of kids being taught how to feed themselves from the ground, not the grocery aisle.
5.) The man has a mission. Loud and proud, he affirms his need to reduce, simplify and save the earth from human destruction. He addresses climate change, rampant consumerism, convenience eating, carbon footprints, unsustainable food production, record-level waste, and disconnect with the seasons, nature and earth itself. He doesn't lean on witty anecdotes, although he's anecdotes aplenty. Nor does he overly romanticise former golden eras of simplicity - after all, the man preaches from the same electronic non-reality that you and I inhabit. Instead he embodies a beautiful blend, the best of both. A bit of technology, a touch of the hand-made. Reusing plus innovation. The past and the modern, coexisting.
Do you really need an electronic blender and a food processor (and a coffee grinder and a hand blender and a juicer and a George Forman Grill, plus your microwave, toaster and kettle)? Could you soak beans by hand instead of buying tins? Could you slow cook something simply by cooking it - slowly? How about bouquets of radishes, figs from your own tree, or non-proverbially 'going fishing'?.
His drastic lifestyle change to self-sufficiency serves as a loose guide, a constant process of trial and error that he uses to inform and entertain. But not to impress upon anyone. Not to admonish or prescribe universal tenets that must be adhered to. Its harshest consequence is its unwitting habit of acting like a mirror, reflecting our poor environmental practices in comparison to what we could do and inspiring us to better. No harm in a little self-reflection, right?
Basically, the man offers articulate, well-informed and rational arguments about making our planet better. Then he passionately exhorts you to do the same, whether he comes out and says so or not. I, for one, want to try. Especially if it means that I get to make my own chorizo or grow my own berries. It's not just food; it's food for thought.