We all dream of living a more sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle–a little farm where we can get away from the environmental madness of modern day food supply– but how many of us really have the guts to pursue it? Well, there lives at least one. Rohan Anderson, an Australian native, has done what most deem crazy or impossible. He grows, gathers, hunts, and cooks ALL of the food required to feed himself and his family.
Rohan’s lifestyle is similar to that which was common over 200 years ago. He hunts and trades for meats–like deer, pork, chicken, and rabbits. He fly fishes for trout and digs around the muck for crayfish. He has a diverse-but-condensed garden that provides veggies, fruits, nuts, and herbs not only for his family, but other locals as well. And for the winter, when food is less abundant, he smokes, pickles, dries, cures, and freezes his bounty. Relishes, dips, pastas, sauces, you name it! His food is almost entirely self-produced, with the exception of flours, sugars, coffees, and other household staples. Rohan works hard to provide everything needed to nourish his family.
Let’s be clear: Rohan Anderson is not some backwoods schmuck that lives 10 miles from the nearest road. He lives in an urban environment, with a contained gardening space and enough land to build a smokehouse. (Sure, he could have put in a small pool like many urbanites do, but a hand-hewn smokehouse is way tastier AND more useful.) The difference between him and the majority of urbanites is that he made one simple, yet immense decision– to never step into a supermarket again.
As we all know, the business of big agriculture is horribly unsustainable and is directly responsible for a myriad of foul environmental byproducts. Having studied natural resource management, Rohan “learned a great deal about the management, or more accurately the mismanagement, of our precious resources and consequently the current unhealthy state of the natural world.” He believes that if you are against hunting and would be unable to kill an animal for food, then, to put it bluntly, you shouldn’t be eating meat.
“Someone once thoughtfully informed me that in this modern world we have supermarkets, where meat can be purchased with ease. I replied back, ‘Donít you think thatís part of the problem?’ Meat is a privilege, not a right. We should work hard for it, and we should be intimate with the process of taking a life to sustain our own.” (Anderson, Whole Larder Love)
He points out some mind-blowing flaws in mass food transportation as well. Because we live in a civilization where we are accustomed to having access to an excess of everything all the time, we waste tons of resources transporting out of season, non-local produce–such as fruits from Peru or Argentina in the middle of winter. Rather than preserving local fruits from the summer, we use gallons upon gallons upon gallons of fuel to have apples and the like at our slightest whim.
“What a system! For example, I discovered that our local potato growers mostly supply a national chip manufacturer or send their potatoes to the city markets, but for some odd reason they donít supply our local restaurants. Even more confounding, they donít supply our local green grocery stores, which end up purchasing their produce from the city wholesale market! I wore out a patch on my noggin from constantly scratching my head, desperately trying to figure out the logic of this predicament.” (Anderson, Whole Larder Love)
Looking at the illogical distances and routes of mass food transit, Rohan decided he would not be a part of the problem. So his journey ensued. He gardened, hunted, foraged, and cooked (with heaping amounts of love and respect) real foods.†Eager to share his edible successes with family and friends, Rohan started a blog called Whole Larder Love. After much unexpected success,†Rohan’s popular blog has culminated into a beautifully crafted book by the same name. Half cookbook, half guide to sustainable living–wholly inspiring.
The book itself is divvied up into 6 basic chapters: From the Garden, From the Wild: Hunted, From the Wild: Foraged, From the Wild: Fished, From the Paddock & Pen, and To the Larder. Each chapter provides insight into Rohan’s process, how it lessens his environmental impact, and a couple of divinely hearty recipes that surely won’t disappoint. Some may be confused with his ingredient lists, as they are written in the same homestyle manner as the cherished recipes passed down from your great-grandmother. But, let’s be honest, aren’t all the best recipes written that way? Use common sense and your tastebuds for unspecified amounts (like a “knob of butter”) and unusual terms (“capsicums” are peppers). Want to check out a recipe? Click on the image below–a page from his “Fished” chapter– for a deliciously unique Trout Pizza and his Summer’s Catch Pappardelle.
For those who would like to live more sustainably, but think it is too time/space consuming or costly in today’s world of instant rice and drive-thru kingdoms, Rohan’s journey can open your eyes to how simple and fulfilling self-sustainment can be. He also provides some excellent advice on the basics; for those with no background in hunting, foraging, cooking, or processing your own food. Even for the more knowledgeable omnivore, Whole Larder Love is incredibly inspiring, beautifully designed, and †gorgeously photographed. Certainly worth a†read. (Whole Larder Love is available for purchase here.)
In the meantime, keep Rohan’s lifestyle choices in mind. Eat wild, raise your own foods, make use of everything and store some for later, share with your neighbors and friends, and support local businesses. Here’s to hoping we can all become a bit closer to the earth and its foods that sustain us.
*Special thanks to powerHouse Books for their help and images!