This blog is a continuation of the last two, so if you have not read them, go back and read parts one and two.
Create habits that make your life more local.
This step is going to take a while, because whether you are aware or not, you have set paths that you have created for yourself, and altering the rhythm takes a while. No need to fear however, because nobody does this step overnight. At one point in my past I was a regular pop drinker and I was not afraid to eat at McDonalds or Burger King. Taking the time to incrementally change my life has been and still is an ongoing process. I still eat ice cream and cookies from time to time, and I watch movies. The biggest key in defeating behavior that is not local or sustainable is to work on it slowly but surely. And make absolute sure that you do not beat yourself up for engaging in behaviors that have become habitual.
What kind of habits are we talking about here?
Walk places instead of driving
Instead of watching the TV, entertain yourself by other means. Make things, talk to your neighbors, get a sit spot.
Investigate the origin of all of the products you buy, and see if there is any way in which you can get those products from a more local source.
If you grow a garden, start saving seeds. This localizes your seed genetics to your particular climate and conditions.
Learn how to treat your ailments using the ingredients found in your region.
Abandon your cell phone at every opportunity you can. Not that they are not useful, but these devices take us out of the moment and we are often looking at the lives of others in faraway lands while ignoring our friends and family right in front of us. This habit is very important.
There are probably countless other little things that you could do on a daily basis to mitigate the fact that your life is so divorced from your land. The list above is a short list that I think has helped me tremendously in fighting back against my tendency toward being a Locally Grown Foreigner. I have friends that make bows and arrows from the trees and shrubs in the area. Others can make skis or snowshoes. These steps are very advanced, and impressive, but if we start out with that goal chances are we will fall short and possibly give up as a result. I hate to repeat myself, but it’s worth reading again. Start slow and work your way toward these crazy goals.
Learn natural navigation.
“Natural navigation is the rare art of finding your way using nature”-Tristan Gooley
This is yet another aspect of regaining your citizenship with your land that cannot be passed up. This was important 20 years ago. Now this is absolutely imperative. The area of the brain in control of navigation is the Hippocampus and thanks to Smartphones and GPS devices the modern Hippocampus is shrinking considerably. Source. Putting down your phone and moving through your region without GPS is the original Sudoku. For the vast majority of you, this step will probably be extremely hard. But this step is vital because this is how you will truly start to learn your land. You remember that game memory you played as a child? Well, your entire landbase will be like that game from now on. Trees are no longer just boring trees, they get personalities and they tell you things that you never paid attention to when you used a phone to get you from A to B. See how that particular tree is swollen in that particular spot? That means that in 5 more minutes of walking you will be to the river.
I have been a lifelong advocate of going out and finding my way on my own. I was fortunate enough to have a Father that urged me to “Go out and get lost and find yourself again”. Taking his advice was one of the best things I ever did. Last summer I drove out to New York to visit my Mother using only the signs on the road to navigate me and a general sense of direction. I routinely hike off trail, and as many of you are aware, I do not have an active smart phone to help me find my way if I get lost. All of this is to say that natural navigation is a passion of mine, and at one point I would love to start teaching people this skill. But for now, All I will do is recommend that you start to familiarize yourself with your surroundings without a Smartphone. And you should probably read the book in the link below!
Get a group of friends that share your same goals and desires!
Friendship is very, very important. We so desperately need friendship that one of the most cruel things to do to a person is to put them in isolation for long periods of time. Humans did not evolve being the lone wolf that popular American imagery would have you believe (In fact wolves are not lone either!). We are social animals and we need genuine time together socializing. More people are claiming loneliness than ever before, and wouldn’t you know it, social media and smart phones are behind this dilemma as well. Source. We are desperately craving the socialization that our ancestors had. So while this step is not like the others, it is another crucial step in your transformation.
Most people in our world have absolutely no face to face communication with their neighbors! As unbelievable as that may be, it is true. Our lives have become increasingly tangled in the knot of television, social media, and all things computer related. We must rebel against these tendencies if we are to no longer be Locally Grown Foreigners. Friendships online are fine and dandy, I have many friends that live in other places, but these people are not my truly good friends that know me as well as I know myself. When push comes to shove my core group of friends is there for me. When I am having a difficult time in life, I turn to my friends for advice and counsel, not Google.
Above and beyond just having friends, you need to surround yourself with friends that share the same passions as you. If you want to forage, you gotta find friends that don’t think it’s weird to eat food from the woods. Having friends from all walks of life supplies us with diversity, but diversity in friendships is not good enough. We need friends that push us to do the things that we want to do. Your friend that plays video games every night will not encourage you to go for hikes tracking bobcats. In the same way if you are trying to get in shape you do not surround yourself with people that never work out, here too it is vital to surround yourself with people that want to belong to their land.
Of course, this is a step that takes a good amount of time, especially if your friends are not into these things already. None of us can magically make new friends over night. Like everything else that I have written about on this topic, it will come incrementally. Making friends nowadays is more difficult than it once was, especially with the increased awkwardness that texting and social media creates. This is why movies like “I Love You Man” exist. Because making friends as an adult is awkward.
but completely true these days.
Eat the things now that you plan on eating in the future.
I know so many people that plant things around their house, and never get around to eating them. I call this “The Rhubarb Effect”. Having tended gardens and owned a gardening business for over a decade I can guarantee you that if you don’t already eat something, you should not plant it on your land. I named this after Rhubarb because so many people that have Rhubarb never actually touch their Rhubarb. And some people have a ton of the stuff. They don’t use it because they never created the habit that made them desire the food in the first place. Likewise there are many foragers I know that talk about the edibility of different species of plants that they have no experience with. We must set the habits now that we desire to have as habits in the future. It’s exactly like that old saying, “If you do not change directions you will end up going where you are headed”.
You must start eating things and including these ingredients into your meals before you turn your land into a paradise of food that you never use. If you eat out for every single meal, start by cooking some of your meals at home. Then cook some of your meals from local ingredients. Then, and only then should you begin to plant these things on your land. Otherwise you will be one more person that allows me access to your unused fruit and/or nut trees. I do realize that some of you that read this will disagree, and perhaps having more untouched apple trees is a good thing, but to me it just seems like a waste of time in the grand scheme of things, especially if one is trying to become more naturalized to his/her landscape.
Shedding the skin of being a foreigner on ones land is a highly involved process. For many of us even a lifetime of trying will not put us into the mindset of what it must feel like to be truly indigenous to land. I’m not certain that with the technology and agriculture of today that truly being indigenous is even possible. But it is a worthy thing to attempt. Especially with the next generation in mind. In fact it is my two children that are my biggest inspirations to be a better steward of my land. It is them, and any children that they have. The future generations are on a path toward 100% divorcement from their land, and it is our duty to keep certain aspects of being human alive. If learning how to make a basket from the materials found outside your door goes away, or how to bake bread, or how to carve utensils then most certainly the world will go on. But will that world be a place worth inhabiting? If a Red Winged Blackbird calls and nobody enjoys it, did the bird even make a call?
I think devotion to ones land, and a devotion to belonging is paramount to every other cause out there. Many of the ills of the world could be cured if even 20% of the civilized world implemented the changes outlined in this blog. industrial Agriculture could be stopped from tilling the soil to dust if the vast majority of us foraged even a tiny percentage of our diet. decreasing our reliance on faraway lands can only mean good for the majority of us. I hope that even if you only got one thing out of this blog series, that the one thing is incrementally making changes to better the world for the future generations.
Thank you all for checking out my latest blog. I have been really working hard on studying to bring you all of this content, and new content to come. That being said I have a Patreon account and I am happy to have any and all of the support that can be offered up my way so that I can continue to spread the good news about foraging and sustainable living. Support me here. If donation is not your thing, and I understand completely, then think about clicking through any of my Amazon Portals on this website. Every time you click through one of these links and continue on to do your normal purchasing on Amazon, I get a percent of what you bought and the best part is that it costs you nothing! Merci!