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There are few experiences in life that are as rewarding as being able to provide your own sustenance. If you are a hunter, gardener, forager, etc. you know the unique thrill that comes with success, and the almost smug sense of self-satisfaction that follows. It is primal; it is base; it is elemental to being human. Long before there were grocery stores and convenience marts, there were forests. There were lakes and rivers, valleys and plains... These were our grocery stores at one time, and in those days it was not the size of your wallet that afforded you food, but rather the breadth of your outdoor knowledge that sustained you.
I've been thinking about this concept a lot over the past couple of months as I've watched global supply chains shuttered by the effects of the Coronavirus. These times have really given me cause to reconsider so much of what I had taken for granted in the good old days. Where once I would pop off to the store to replenish ALL my produce without a second thought, I now find myself asking, "Can I afford to buy groceries? Is it safe to touch previously handled produce? Are the products I'm seeking even available anymore?" What happened to the world I once knew!?
These concerns are unlike anything any of us have ever had to face. They leave us feeling powerless and ill-equipped. I now find myself wrestling with the very real possibility that convenient, bountiful supplies of food are not a given, and that at some point in the near future I might be responsible for catching/collecting/harvesting my own sustenance. Am I ready for this new reality? No, I am not. Like so many others alive today, I too have grown accustomed to instant gratification and complacent in my self-reliance. But no more!
As I delve deeper into the study of sustainable living, it has become woefully apparent to me just how far we have fallen in terms of our inherent survival knowledge. In our modern world, we are responsible for no part of our survival beyond the procurement of small, green pieces of paper (money) which we pay in exchange for our right to live. How does this make any sense? Why did we ever give up our power (knowledge of survival)? I do not know the answer to these questions and I doubt I ever will. However, I am fully committed to relearning these lost skills so that I will never feel powerless again.
This past week I found several pounds of wild Morel mushrooms. I spent 4 days crawling on my hands and knees through dense forest underbrush to collect them all. Splinters, dirt, and bugs were my constant companions. I cleaned my mushrooms of all of the dirt and debris, and with a cardboard box, electric fan, and a window screen, I made a dehydrator to dry them for long term storage. They are not enough to keep me and my family alive for long. However, I feel like I have taken a small step in reclaiming my power. And in doing so, I have also found a way to conquer the fear of the Corona. I dare say I am starting to feel hopeful again!