I’m not a farmer nor a nutritionalist, but I know how to grow food and I know what’s good for me.
I wasn’t always this way. Like many adults of developed western countries, I was unhealthy. A direct result of my diet and lifestyle choices.
There is no denying that my past of relying on convenient processed food, avoiding physical exercise and using vices as a supporting emotional crutch formed me into the worst version of myself. I was riddled with medical aliments, all directly influenced by my actions. Thankfully, at some point in my life journey the door bell of common sense rang loud enough for me to take notice. Like a 12 step program I started to introduce changes into my life. Initially I looked to alternatives to the processed foods that I had been relying on for so many years. Apparently we’re supposed to be eating loads of vegetables and fruit to be healthy and this was a revelation to me, a lesson I had to learn the hard way. I taught myself to cook, I found value in a skill that everyone one of us should have. And we don’t need to be chef quality, but we will benefit from knowing the basics and being willing to experiment in the kitchen, to explore new food makes life more interesting and worth celebrating.
I eventually took more steps in my unwritten, ad-hoc lifestyle change program. I started to grow food in my urban backyard. I became a farmer for the food that my family ate. I began to hunt for my meat, to cure, preserve and celebrate the coming and goings of the seasonally determined food that I grew, hunted and gathered.
In the beginning I didn’t realise where I would end up, I didn’t realise how much it would improve many elements of my life. Not only has my physical state repaired, but my mental health and my spirit has been lifted, recharged and reprogrammed.
Ok, so in many respects I’ve moved away from modern living, I’ve embraced the old ways of living like a peasant. I’m a tree that escaped the city. And whilst that’s an interesting story in itself, it won’t necessarily fix the wide spread health and environment problems of the western world. Our cities are full of sick people. We can’t all move to the country but we can become better consumers by engaging more with what we’re doing to our bodies and the ecological balance that is so critically important to all of us.
The experience of this transformation has been one great life lesson. I don't consider myself to be an expert in any one field, but a generalist with skills that get me through each day. Over the years, my journey in food has allowed me to develop a range of practical skills from how to plant vegetables, to preserving summer's bounty, curing meats and cooking real food.
I could go through each day, happily living with my lovely family, growing vegetables, cooking tasty food and living well, happy in my blissful bubble world. But there is a world out there, that desperately needs change. I know my reach is not yet equal to the likes of Jamie Oliver or Heston, but I’ll be damned if I sit idle when I could be influencing change. It doesn’t matter how small that change is, any change is better than the status quo.
The future health of the western world, will be determined by our actions today.
Written by Rohan Anderson
Read his new book: A Year of practiculture: Recipes for Living, Growing, Hunting & Cooking
Watch his talk: Shit food equals shit health. And how I used food to improve my life.
Attend his workshop: Learn How To Eat Well, Live Well And Why It Matters.