For the final 12 months I grew and foraged 100% of my meals. No grocery shops, no eating places, not even a drink at a bar. Nature was my backyard, my pantry and my pharmacy.
Most individuals would think about I stay within the countryside on a farm, however really I stay in a metropolis; Orlando, Florida, a number of miles from the centre. After I arrived right here, I didn’t personal any land, so with a view to develop my meals I met folks within the neighbourhood and turned their lawns into gardens and shared the bounty of meals with them. I’m a giant believer within the philosophy “develop meals, not lawns”.
I additionally wanted a spot to stay for my two-year keep in Orlando and I additionally discovered this via the area people. I put the message out that I used to be searching for somebody with an unused yard who may benefit from my being on the property. After a brief search I discovered Lisa, a girl in her early 60’s with a lifelong dream of residing extra sustainably. I constructed a 100 sq ft tiny house in her yard and in trade I turned her total entrance yard right into a backyard, arrange rainwater harvesting, composting and grew her contemporary produce. Collectively, we helped meet one another’s primary wants via an trade, relatively than utilizing cash.
In addition to anticipating me to stay on a farm, most individuals would most likely presume that I had some severe gardening expertise to launch this type of challenge. Quite the opposite, beforehand I had tended just some small raised beds, rising greens, herbs and tomatoes.
For the previous six years I had spent a lot of my life on the highway and as a lot as I wanted to develop my very own meals, I had by no means made it occur.
I gave myself simply six months of preparation from the time I landed in Orlando to the beginning of the 12 months after I would purchase no meals. That was wishful pondering, however simply 4 months delayed I used to be able to dive into the deep finish and forgo all meals from the economic meals system for the complete 12 months.
My first breakfast of the 12 months turned out to be my first-ever 100% homegrown and foraged meal. From then I used to be totally immersed in my meals – each meal, each snack, each single chew and nibble.
Though this particular challenge was new, it was not the primary time that I had turn into completely immersed in my meals. In 2011 I used to be residing a fairly typical consumeristic life. I by no means considered the place my meals got here from till, via watching documentaries and studying, I woke as much as the truth that I used to be consuming the planet I beloved with each chew I took.
I vowed to vary my consuming habits and to encourage others to take action as properly. Over the subsequent 12 months I grew over 100 completely different meals in my gardens. This included dozens of various greens filled with vitamins, candy potatoes for my caloric wants, scrumptious fruits like papayas and bananas, veggies like pumpkins, carrots, beans and beets and herbs and peppers to flavour all of my meals. I raised bees so I may have my very own sweet store proper at residence.
Round half of my meals got here from my backyard and the opposite half was from foraging. I foraged greater than 200 meals from nature. I harvested my very own sea salt from the ocean, picked coconuts for an excellent supply of fats, foraged my fruit from lots of of timber, caught fish from lakes, rivers and the ocean, harvested mushrooms within the woods, and picked nutritious weeds from folks’s yards.
Fishing was not only a technique of meals for me, it was a option to really feel linked to the land round me. I used a forged internet, usually from the entrance of a canoe, to catch mullet, one of the ample and sustainable fish in Florida.
Protein was one in every of my most troublesome requirements to forage. I used to be having a tough time catching sufficient fish, and round month eight I began to turn into poor in fats and protein. I remedied this by discovering a number of deer that had been hit by vehicles. Some discover this to be controversial, however to me it’s simply widespread sense to make use of assets that will in any other case go to waste. I do know precisely the right way to determine how lengthy a deer has been useless and if it’s nonetheless good. It could be onerous to fathom for somebody residing within the metropolis, however the particulars are clear to those that perceive the essential indicators of nature.
I grew my very own medication and nutritional vitamins too, together with turmeric and ginger, elderberries to make elderberry syrup to forestall colds and flu and reishi mushrooms. Dried and powdered moringa, also called the vitamin tree, was my multivitamin after I travelled.
I cooked up dozens of various wholesome meals, fermented veggies to make sauerkraut and made scrumptious drinks like honey wine and ginger beer. I believe it’s secure to say that I ate the healthiest eating regimen of my life. I completed the 12 months weighing the identical as after I had began, and I didn’t get sick as soon as. I trusted nature and it paid off.
This challenge wasn’t nearly rising and foraging all my meals, although. It was about empowering others to develop their very own meals and reclaim their well being. Through the 12 months I constructed gardens for 15 different folks via my Gardens for the Individuals programme, planted greater than 200 group fruit timber, despatched out extra 5,000 seed packs to assist folks develop their very own natural, wholesome meals and taught free gardening courses to the folks in my group.
All year long I labored with 5 single-parent native households to assist them develop wholesome meals. The programme offered its personal challenges, however it was really lovely to see the kids and their moms join with the land below their ft and harvest the meals rising freely and abundantly in their very own yards.
I’ve been exploring meals for practically a decade and I imagine that the globalised, industrialised meals system is damaged. This was my private quest to see whether or not I may step away from large agriculture and develop and forage each chew of my very own meals. I noticed that it’s certainly attainable. I’m not saying it’s attainable for everybody. The truth is, I don’t suppose it’s attainable for many of us. Extra importantly I don’t suppose it’s even vital. The solutions lie in group.
I merely need others to query their meals: the place does it come from? How does it get to you? How did it influence the Earth, different species and the individuals who grew it? And in the event that they don’t just like the solutions they discover, I need to empower them to vary the solutions.
The excellent news is that you simply don’t have to go for 100% – you can begin the place you’re. You may develop a bit little bit of your personal meals. You may be taught and harvest the edible crops and weeds in your area. You may supply your meals regionally and buy from native farmers and gardeners. You should buy complete meals and prepare dinner extra, relatively than packaged processed meals.
This needn’t be a lonely journey. We are able to do that collectively in our communities. The options are right here and they’re scrumptious and nutritious and a part of a happier, more healthy and extra sustainable life.