|Learn from Native people: "Turn in your arms: The government will take care of you."|
|Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants|
I turned on faucets for water, plugged in cords for electricity, and went to stores for food. My city had been engineered for me. And I was mindlessly playing my role.
At a young age I felt that there was something wrong about my ignorance. But no one else seemed to be aware of our collective lack of awareness.
|How will we survive this?|
Her family was poor, by the standards of her time, but they had 51 acres in rural Ohio. They fed themselves and many others. My mother’s stories inspired me to become an ethnobotanist to learn about how plants were used in the past.
I did not pursue the path of “urban planning.” I realized I had many choices within the framework of a suburban existence to ecologically engineer my life.
- VIDEO: California's Secret History of Slavery (Kizh)
- Wild Foods and Self-Reliance with Christopher (Meetup)
|Teaching food workshop, Hahamongna Park|
I learned age old methods of agriculture, methods people today have taken to calling “organic” or “permaculture.”
I learned that, indeed, anyone can produce at least some of his/her food in a small city space.
By my late teens I had critics who told me it was impractical to grow food without artificial fertilizers and pesticides. "Really?" I dared to ask. I followed the ancient path of Masanobu Fukuoka* and his Japanese “One Straw Revolution.” I followed the Rodale Family, who insisted on growing everything with nothing artificial.
- *Fuk Uoka: farmer-philosopher celebrated for natural farming and re-vegetation of desertified lands; proponent of traditional no-till, no-herbicide grain cultivation farming methods from many indigenous cultures; created a particular method of farming commonly referred to as "natural farming" or "do-nothing farming"...More
|What about nuclear farming? Scorched earth|
I knew that any so-called "Green Revolution" based on petroleum-based fertilizers and chemical pesticides was partly a fraud and completely unsustainable.
Learning the hard way
|Learn the hard way: Treatment of Native people proves government must be distrusted.|
But to find it it is now necessary to search a bit more because of all the houses, roads, and impractical landscaping that have taken over the land. The engineering of the concrete city destroyed much of the terrain where these native foods once grew in abundance. But they were not entirely gone.
I began to eat wild plants, which have sustained people for more than ten thousand years. I incorporated them into my regular diet. I began to share my excitement of these treasures with others. But I faced apathy in response, sometimes scorn, sometimes pity. I was amazed.
Re-engineering my own mind
In the mid-1970s in Los Angeles County, I began publicly teaching and writing about the practical skills of self-reliance and urban survival. I was not engineering the city; I was working to engineer a new mindset: We can live ecologically (and economically) in the city. More
|Angel fish, devil fish, invasive species (Illustration by Kelsey Dake)|
On a rocky strip of Lake Superior beachfront, the rites of spring begin at dusk and involve fish. Lots and lots of fish.
They stand around, bundled in hooded sweatshirts layered under thick rubber overalls that cover their bodies from toe to nipple. The smelt have not yet arrived and the beach is quiet. Waves lap the shore. Someone kicks a rock.