We are what we eat.
That is my experience.
I don’t get my food from a store, I find it in the bush, in wild open areas and in the sea. Every day. My food is gathered, hunted and fished.
In this 1 day workshop, we will encounter various wild edibles: plants, berries and fungi (seasonally dependent). We will learn to recognise these, taste the edible parts, and discover their uses including medicinal ones. You will come to know the basic principles of a biologically appropriate diet. The backbone of this workshop is an exploration into our past as hunter-gatherers and information on the impressive, and often surprising health benefits of eating wild (more of that below). By eating wild plants, fungi and animals we can help to prevent the use of fertilisers, chemicals and any sort of packaging too!
Workshop attendees will receive a free e-book containing the most important wild edibles growing in New Zealand, Europe and America.
I had definitely been on a healthy diet before I started eating wild food, but I just couldn’t get rid of my chronic stomach pain and other minor symptoms that I had for about 20 years, no matter what I tried. Chronic health problems are widespread and on the rise. Prevalence in diabetes, for example, has doubled in New Zealand in the last ten years, we also have one of the highest obesity rates in the world, which has more than doubled in the last 30 years.
When I stopped eating refined food and started eating wild plants, animals and fungi instead, my health increased rapidly. After only a few days I was rid of my stomach ache, 2 weeks later most of the other symptoms were gone, and my joint pain is reduced to only an echo of what it has been. But these advantages and more are not only my experience.
Our biology was formed while being hunter-gatherers over hundreds of thousands of years. Only 10.000 years ago we started changing our diet and relying mostly on grain, cultured vegetables and fruits, and domesticated animals. The comparatively brief period of agriculture has been too short to substantially change what our bodies need and rely on every day. There are scientific studies and real-world observations proving this. One of the best examples is Weston Price, an Ohio dentist who traveled the world to study people who did not suffer from dental illnesses. He found people on each continent (also here in NZ) with extremely low rates of dental cavities and palates that were wide enough to fit all their teeth, i.e. also their wisdom teeth. These people all had one thing in common, they were living isolated from modern foods, still relying on their traditional diets. His findings were that the causes of cavities, smaller jaws, even smaller skulls and hips was malnutrition caused by non-traditional diets.
Another health professional, Dr. Eugene Payne spent 25 years in Brazil and Ecuador examining approximately 60.000 people native to that region and reported finding no (!) evidence of cancer among the natives isolated from western lifestyle. Modern research backs these observations, that hunter-gatherers have been extremely healthy compared to modern humans.
Why then was their life expectancy so low? This is easily explained. Not enjoying the blessings of modern trauma medicine and by living a life exposed to environmental risks one out of three children died before the age of fifteen, dropping the average life expectancy substantially. Once beyond the age of fifteen people regularly lived into their sixties and seventies, some even into their nineties without the help of modern life-prolonging measures.
So what does this mean for us as modern humans? If we mimic the traditional diet of hunter-gatherers, suitable to our climate and individual genetic setup, we too can live healthily and feel energised in a way unknown to people consuming refined food.
Wild edibles can make up an important and diverse part of a healthy, and even healing diet. They are nutritional powerhouses. Wild-growing purslane, for example, contains more of the important omega-3 fatty acids (underrepresented in our modern diets) than any other leafy vegetable plant. Wild edibles contain phytonutrients that have medicinal properties, so your daily food can be your medicine.
In the end, it is quite simple: wild food is generally more nutrient-dense and trustworthy than store-bought food, and it can be your daily medicine. Foraging, hunting, and fishing provide for more food sovereignty and are rewarding for us humans in a deep-seated way too! If done in sustainably, it can help to actively regenerate landscapes. This is what we have been doing for hundreds of thousands of years, and if we start reconnecting with these roots, we can feel it in every fibre of our bodies. To me, it feels like coming home.