Why I’m growing and foraging 100% of my food for a year
As I write these words, I am thirty-four days into my yearlong project of growing and foraging 100% of my food. That is thirty-four days of knowing the source of every food that I consume. Thirty-four days of connecting with every morsel that nourishes my body. Thirty-four days of using my hands to harvest every single bite I will take. It is no doubt an immersive experience, and one that I think most of us can’t fully fathom because of the intricate web of the globalized, industrialized food system that we have found ourselves weaved so deeply into.
Food has been made so convenient for most of us today that we need not question where it comes from, the resources it took to produce it, how it got to us, who was involved in the entire process, and so on. Thus, we eat hundreds, or even thousands, of different foods from all over the world typically without ever really understanding the food itself or the system that brought it to us.
I’d like to share with you why I am doing this. Why would I step so far away from the convenience and comfort of the twenty-first century food system? Why would I put myself into a situation where I have to resist so much temptation? Food is the center of most of our lives, so why would I do something so extreme that sets my daily life far apart from most of those around me?
This is a project I have been planning for just a couple of years, but really I’ve been setting myself up for this since 2011 when I started to wake up to the realities of the world that I live in. I learned that the food I was eating and the system that brought it to me was causing vast destruction to the world that I love. I learned that corporations were manipulating me into purchasing food that they knew was detrimental to my health and to my fellow citizens. I learned that my daily actions, through the food I was eating, were not in alignment with my beliefs. And I learned that there are alternatives. I learned that I could start changing myself to live in a manner that was better for humanity and other species. I learned that I could attain levels of happiness, health, and freedom that I had not known. I decided I was going to live a life of truth and that I would seek to dismantle the delusions that I was under.
Personally, I’ve found no better way to understand an issue than to fully and deeply immerse in it. I want to deeply understand my food. I want to connect with my food. The globalized, industrialized food system, where most of my food in the past came from, was extremely difficult to fully understand. And it was nearly impossible to really connect with the source of my food. It’s such a complicated and intricate system that it is nearly impossible, not to mention that many mega-corporations design it that way to keep us unconsciously consuming their products.
What better way to accomplish a deep understanding and connection with my food than to force myself to grow and forage every morsel for over one thousand meals in a row- an entire year of breakfast, lunch, and dinner? In my life, I’ve found the saying “Necessity is the mother of invention” to be incredibly true. In our convenient lifestyles it’s very easy to want something, but much harder to act on it, with all the distractions and choices in a given day. By embarking on this adventure 100% for an entire year, I am forcing myself to accomplish what I so deeply desire to. It is this need that will force me to learn, to understand, and to dive into all the nooks and crannies of food that I could easily be distracted from otherwise.
I consider food to be one of the most important aspects of life. Food is truly a life-giving substance. Without it we die. It really is that simple. I think it only makes sense to invest in what gives us life. On the contrary, I think it is deeply flawed to build a system and fully depend on that system that can come crashing down on humanity, and in the wake of that crash leave us unable to eat, and thus perish. After this year, I will know how to survive and thrive on this Earth independent of a system that is cracking each moment. This journey will force me to know how to make everything that I need and to see how the Earth produces it. The vegetables, the fruit, the animals, the salt, the oil, the herbs, and so on…. I will be a semi-expert food grower and forager. I say “semi” because I know that I’ll have only skimmed the surface still, but from a perspective of modern humanity I think it’s safe to say I’ll be comparatively extremely skilled and knowledgeable. Through this project, I am building my skills and talents to simply exist in a quality manner on Earth. Even for those of us that get most of our food from Big Ag, I still think it only makes sense to know our food. Again, it gives us life, it is our life.
Equally as important as my own education and development, I am doing this to educate and inspire others. I want to wake people up to the hidden realities of our current food systems and inspire change. I am a teacher. First and foremost, I teach by example and focus on teachings about things that I actually know well. Immersing in projects like this give me the knowledge and the skills to be a quality teacher.
This project is undoubtedly extreme, and that is very intentional. I embark on extreme adventures and activism campaigns that are designed to catch people’s and the media’s attention. There are millions of messages being pumped out each day, and this is my way of getting what I deem as a worthwhile message out to the masses. I have to compete with, let’s be honest, a whole lot of crap messages and advertising out there. So, this is my way of getting a positive and worthwhile message out in front.
The adventure I’m embarking on is also extreme because I find that it’s this sort of extreme contrast that gets people to self-reflect on their own lives. By analyzing every single food that I eat, it results in those who follow me doing the same with their food. Telling the story of making my own oil, for example, results in people sitting down at the dinner table and wondering where their oil came from and then doing the research. Quite possibly they don’t like what they learn and then make a positive change. By showing my garden full of vibrant vegetables, it may inspire others to want to grow some of their own veggies, rather than eating the bland veggies they are buying from the grocery store that were shipped from a thousand miles away and picked too early to taste nearly as good as a backyard veggie. I want people to question their lives and their actions, and by questioning my own, I can lead by example and nudge people to do so as well.
My goal isn’t to get anyone to do exactly as I am doing. Instead it’s about getting in touch with our actions and then making positive changes to do what we all can do in our own situations. My goal is to inspire more people to shop local and support local farmers and growers, to eat whole foods and reduce packaged, processed foods, to grow some of their own food even if it’s just one tomato plant on a balcony, and to buy from businesses and people who have more ethical practices such as regenerative and organic farmers. I hope to light little fires of curiosity and interest in people that results in some positive change and that slowly leads them into a new life of eating and living in a manner that is better for our world as a whole.
I am no doubt doing this to remove myself from the globalized industrialized food system and all of the destruction that goes along with it. For the next year, none of my food will be shipped long distances using fossil fuels. None of my food will travel down conveyer belts and through factories. None of my food will be wrapped in plastic or sprayed with pesticides. I will not be supporting mass extinction, habitat loss, animal cruelty, unfair labor, or dozens of other forms of environmental and human destruction. And I am working to help others step away from these systems as well, one step at a time, and at the same time stepping into something better. Truly healthy food is better for us, for the animals we share our home with, and for the Earth as a whole.
Health and happiness are two central tenets to my life. This project will result in me eating the healthiest that I ever have in my entire life for an extended period of time. I will be forced to overcome all of my bad eating habits for the year and will only put pure food into my body. No more chemical and processed foods that can be so hard to resist! I expect that I will experience a very deep level of health from dedicating myself to this year. Even for me it’s hard to resist unhealthy food when it’s sitting right in front of me.
They say it takes twenty-one days to form a habit. Well, I hope that these 365 days will really set me down a life path of eating what I know I should be eating and resisting what I don’t want to put in my body.
Living purposefully and with passion are two other central tenets to my life. By doing this project I will be living out my beliefs and instilling them more deeply into me. There are few things I am more passionate about than food. I live to eat almost as much as I eat to live. Growing my own food gives me a very deep sense of purpose, and I’m extremely passionate about it.
Lastly, I have embarked on this project because it is a great challenge. I am a proponent of testing my limits and challenging myself. This is one of the simplest means to grow as a human being. This will be an extreme challenge. I have yet to meet anyone who is growing and foraging 100% of their food. I am out to see if it can be done in the modern world.
Photo by Sierra Ford Photography