Methods of Freedom: Sustenance

People have to eat. Indeed, in many ways food shapes the foundation of our culture. After all, humans first began to organize into bands to facilitate hunting. Specifically to weight the odds in our favor. Since then many of the developments we are most proud of stem from this one innovation: egalitarianism to increase the odds of individual survival. No other living primate lives in this way, with the exception of some enterprising orangutans.

As living humans we rely on a daily or near daily intake of food. As such, much of our activity is geared to assuring it's supply. In civilization this means either farming your own or working many hours every week in order to trade for it. (The specific medium of exchange is unimportant for the purposes of our current discussion.) The kind of methods used to obtain food also affect the way a person perceives the world. A farmer rules the land. A permaculturalist is a steward of the land. A forager lives with the land. These views are inherent consequences of the methodology. After all, a farmer must labor long hours to pull food from the ground. He must fight with other animals constantly in order to keep his crops. It is not surprising they think of that land as their possession, and of themselves as rulers of it. Permaculturalists must encourage certain plants to grow together to each other's benefit. They allow and even assist other animals in joining their gardens. A view of stewardship is only to be expected. A forager controls none of the land. It grows as the gods will, and they do their best to obtain what they want to eat. The ease with which this is done surprises many, but it is one of the main reasons that foragers are left with no choice but to see themselves and the land they live on as being intrinsically connected. So, with this in mind, it is easy to reach the conclusion that a person changing their way of obtaining food would, consequently, change their view of their place in the world.

Beyond this, is the concept of locking and unlocking the food. As long as we in civilization rely on the mechanisms of civilization to obtain food we contribute to, maintain, expand, and are slaves to those mechanisms. We are still farmers, rulers of the earth, and slaves. A very important step, although a dramatic one, to obtaining freedom from civilization is to free oneself from the products of farm labor. Considering the number of people likely to try, there is ample food growing randomly with no help from any human hand. The question is only if a person has the skill to know it. Dandelions grow everywhere in suburbia, and are tastier and more nutritious than spinach. Yet we go to the store to buy salad greens? Freeing yourself from farmed food needn't be an overnight affair. There is no rule that says it's an all or nothing game. Next time collect and rinse (several times, it is suburbia after all) your own salad greens. Collect your own fruit to supplement your purchases. Go get your own nuts. Collecting your own honey is considered advanced and not recommended for beginners.

Once an individual has progressed beyond the need of civilization in order to obtain the basic level of sustenance they are that much freer. After all, civilization no longer holds the threat of starvation over their head. And, without that threat, civilization's siren call is much less appealing.

– Benjamin Shender


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