The disconnect is real.
The number one thing missing in our food system, the very thing that can help heal our species and save the planet if we can reclaim it . . . is connection.
The Last Hunter-Gatherers
There are a small handful of humans left on the planet that obtain the majority of their nutrition through hunting and gathering. Those lucky few are directly connected to their food and have a front row seat from which to witness the consequences their actions have on both their health and the world around them.
As a part of this system, they never have to ask anyone what to eat, when to eat, or how much to eat. Being in sync with their bodies and their environment means that they are in a naturally occurring feedback loop that provides them with all the information they need to live healthy lives. But, our food chain has never been as long as it is right now for the vast majority of us humans.
The Next Step Up
There are some of us that take care of the animals, and some that tend to crops in the field. There are some that butcher and others that process vegetables. Others pack trucks and planes and ships and even more that pilot those vehicles and transport food to distant places on earth.
On the opposite end of this incredibly long food chain are those who stock shelves, interact with customers and bring to life the objectives of a 1.5 trillion dollar food industry that manipulates consumers through messaging, advertising and shelf placement. Sure, all of these players are a “part” of this food system and the argument can be made that they are more closely connected to their food than most consumers.
However, the dark magic of the modern food system, the very thing that makes it work so well, is that it is so incredibly compartmentalized.
This compartmentalization makes all of us dependent upon it – in every way. Under this system even farmers and ranchers and food producers still need to go to the supermarket to purchase the majority of the food their families eat.
So, where do we start?
If, after reading this far you are as fired up and ready for change as I am, you probably have the desire to overhaul the entire system overnight. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
Important, lasting, meaningful change is not made by large, sweeping revision. Rather, small, incremental steps made day after day, week after week, month after month builds and becomes powerful over time.
Removing even one link from our food chain is an important step towards helping reestablish our lost connection.
Simplest thing to do
There are many ways to do this, but none as powerful as simply getting back into your kitchen and learning how the food you and your family eat every day is made. I am convinced learning to cook from scratch is the single most important thing you can do to connect with your food and educate yourself to the point you become immune to the modern food system’s marketing and advertising.
Putting it into Practice at the ESFL
Co-teaching the Making the Most of Your Hunt class with Billy in the Eastern Shore Food Lab Kitchen this past weekend and witnessing the sheer power connecting people with their food can make was the impetus for this blog post. All of the things missing from our typical home kitchens were literally staring us in the face throughout the class – feathers, skin, bones and, yes, even eyes. There was no escaping the stark reality that the ingredients we were working with were once living. And, with that reality comes intense feelings of gratitude and responsibility.
By giving people the opportunity to connect at this level and teaching the skills necessary to embrace that responsibility they learned to transform the entire animal into incredibly delicious and nourishing meals in the most ethical and sustainable ways possible.
Teaching this class was incredibly rewarding for both Billy and me. We are already looking for dates to offer more classes on butchering and nose-to-tail approaches to animals. Stay tuned or message us if you’d like to schedule a private class!