Dear God, What Have We Done?

I venture into the forest near home in search of something that should be fairly common this time of year. Each time I return home empty handed. I’m so despondent with the situation, yet I continue to head out every few weeks. It’s mid April and I’m yet to find a mushroom for the pot (well thats not technically true, I did pick a basket of the little beauties whilst on Bruny Island). Locally speaking it’s still dry as a dead dingo’s donger. And thats a concern.



It’s been a dry summer, and one of the hottest on records. In fact I can’t remember a summer in recent years that hasn’t set some sort of heat record. The river is down lower than ever, many of the dams are dry, or close to it, and the forest’s gravel roads bellow with dust behind the truck. By now you’d expect a few good dumps of rain with the big storms at the end of summer, but we’ve had bugger all.


The climate is changing, that is a certainty. I know there are non-believers out there, but the science is hardly worth arguing against. Since the industrial revolution the spike has been warming, the oceans and rivers becoming more polluted and our forests dwindling. As a species we’re not slowing down in regards to our use of natural resources. Even as far back as the colonisation of the Americas, we’ve been in plunder mode. At that time Europe had been stripped of timber resources and the new world offered endless supplies of timber, but nothing natural is endless, but it can be managed. We don’t manage our timber resources as well as we could, but it’s one of the greatest renewable resources available. Stick to the simplest of rules. You chop one down you plant another. But we are consuming our resources faster than they can be produced, and in regards to the finite natural resources, we’re looking down the barrel of a loaded gun.


I know most people that read here already give a shit. And in many cases people care more than I do and thus live a life far more extremely sustainably than I do. The problem isn’t with you the reader, the problem is with the people who aren’t reading. The masses. And they make up the majority of the western world. The more I live the simple life where I have to work for my food, the more I become removed from the modern world. This has allowed me to view the modern world as an outsider. I see what people eat, what they put in their shopping carts and I scratch my head. In a very real way, the problems we are having with climate change are directly linked to what people are putting in their shopping carts and ultimately into their digestive system, and it’s killing them twice. Firstly, with health problems. Never before have humans had to deal with such a huge scale of health problems. The likes of morbid obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, all of them are caused by what we eat and our lives that now are far more sedimentary than ever before. The food is killing us off secondly because of the way it’s produced. It’s carbon emissions wrapped up and made palatable. Every bit of food that you buy thats packed in plastic, pre-cooked, snap frozen, has been treated with fungicide, herbicide, insecticide or has had synthetic additives added has a carbon footprint. Every single piece of food. Even the ‘fresh’ food, it’s often travelled thousands of miles.


The processed food is the worst. Lets take a look at a tin of pre-processed chunky soup.

The raw materials, the vegetables at some point have been treated or in contact with synthetic agricultural chemicals. Those chemicals require the use of finite resources to create them, not to mention how harmful they are the the human body and often leave residual in the soil and natural environment.

The raw materials are transported, this requires energy, resulting in carbon emissions.

The raw materials are then cooked and processed, this requires energy, resulting in carbon emissions.

Additives and preservatives are added to the soup. Synthetic chemicals that then enter your digestive system. But surely the person that consumed them has a background in Chemistry so has a full understanding of what they’re consuming.

The processed food is then packed in tin or plastic, either way it’s put into a vessel that will more often than not end up as land fill, not to mention the energy required to make the vessel resulting in yet more emissions.

Then the can is painted with some logo and information convincing you how good it is for you, reminding you of that fresh country soup your great aunty used to make.

The can is then transported to a storage facility (DC – Distribution Centre) where it is selected to go to the supermarket it’s needed.

Off into a truck, driven many miles. Carbon emissions blah blah. This is getting boring now.

The punter, buys the can of soup, it’s popped in a ‘green reusable bag’ even worse than plastic bags and driven to it’s new home.

When the moment is right, the can is opened, the contents tipped into a bowl and it’s popped into a microwave. Energy … yawn.

SO whats wrong with all this?

Well I want my fucking mushrooms! And the climate is all screwed up because of the can of soup and so it been a rainless summer and it’s autumn and still I have no AUTUMN mushrooms. It’s natures way of telling us things are seriously wrong! And it’s all because of that can of soup … well not just one can of soup, all the cans of soup, and the the microwave, the flash car, the big house with all the stuff in it … etc. I hope I’m making sense here. It’s not the literal can of soup, it’s a metaphor for all the things in our western culture that we can live without if we just simplified.

So are we stuffed? Most definitely. Is there something we can do? Most definitely. We can start by growing the veg for the soup in our backyard, and secondly cook the bloody soup from scratch, yourself. If you don’t know how to ask someone to show you. By growing your own vegetables for the soup you’re cutting out heaps of carbon emissions, those as a result of the ag chemical production, chemical transport and application, raw material transport, processing, packaging etc. The next thing to do is live with less, buy second hand, recycle, just be smart about what you consume. It’s not like we all should crawl into caves again, just find some sort of balance in life. Grow your own, buy local and live with less. All makes a difference.

But I fear that it’s more important to watch hours of television and simply zone out like a mindless zombie and not give a shit. That’s the option for most people in the western world. I know that will have people offended and complaining, but that’s the facts. Mark my words, this planet of ours is hurting, and will continue to hurt because we as humans are unstoppable in our hunger for resources. And there isn’t a government in the world, nor a single person that has the power to change the way people live their lives. And so the resource appetite will continue until the air is poisonous, the rivers are beyond repair, our climate is so far from where it should be that food production for the masses will be increasingly hard to keep up with and wars will be fought over clean water and food. The basics of human survival. So why instead don’t we just concern ourselves with those basics (where possible) in our very day life right now?

This is what goes through my mind looking for mushrooms in the forest. Dear God, what have we done to have ourselves in this state where we ‘need’ everything done for us. Why do we have to work for money and not for food for our families. Why? Sometimes I wonder if it would be a good idea to scrap everything and just start all over. Before that happens I’ll pick some veg and make a soup.

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  • James Fox

    needed that. little kick up the backside. or high -5. whichever way you want to think of it…

  • Sue Love

    I’m afraid you are sooo right, Rohan. I look at the supermarket trolleys with despair. As a nation we can’t even get the ‘buy Austalian’ message accepted enough.
    I am struggling to get enough veggies for my soup. The garden is very dry and the amount of watering I do isn’t the same as rain.

  • Robin

    I planted the first of the crops I’ll harvest in early summer into the high tunnel today. Growing more, hunting more, foraging more, it all seems more important, more urgent, this year. I’m hoping for a good mushroom year as I’m completely out after a poor year in 2012.

  • Larna

    I hear ya! And totally agree… it’s why we are making massive changes in our lifestyle atm…. enjoy your soup.

  • Kirsten

    Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. Also get in touch if you’d like some dried saffies, as we’re awash in them (sorry) up in central west NSW…

  • Marty Jones

    Don’t give up the good fight!

    There are more of us joining the cause for each day that there are less mushrooms in the forest. Let’s just hope that we reach a majority before the mushrooms run out!

  • Jane @ Shady Baker

    Inspiring words as always Rohan. It is so dry here in western NSW too, last week it was still 30 degrees and my winter vegetable seedlings are rather confused.

    I have just picked a pumpkin straight from the garden…I am off to make soup too.

  • Fraser from Old Mill Rd

    This is a good post. I am loving the tin soup analogy , it’s freaking genius and easy to spell out to the humans, mind if i use it sometime?

  • Sammi

    Aaah yes….. Vegetable soup for the soul!

  • Holly Findlay

    Wow. So well said thank you. Rohan I recently saw a film called I AM – I really encourage you to see it. It’s right up your alley and deals with human nature and what the hell we are all doing. It’s not mainstream but worth tracking down if you can.

  • cityhippyfarmgirl

    Bloody inspiring words Rohan.

  • Emily Nelson

    This whole topic really distresses me on a daily basis.
    But on a softer note – up in Queensland there has been a fair bit of rain lately and I’m not even caring for my garden and a random, massive tomato bush has sprung up and is bursting with tomatoes in my garden all on it’s own. Must be the compost. Loving the surprise tomatoes. I think my garden does better when I don’t try to care for it.
    Back to reality – I hope that there is a change in the air. I have noticed a definite movement in people towards an organic, non-processed change of life style. I feel that people are starting to realise this… ever so slowly. But it’s the market that needs to get on board!!

  • Kerry

    Thank you Rohan, once again.

    This time, your post was not full of descriptions that are so vivid I can taste and smell the scene you paint. This time, I could feel your frustration, hurt and anger.

    I understand that sense of urgency you feel.

    I have recognised it in myself this past year and can see it growing in my husband. His jokes about my tinfoil hat have all but ceased. He accepts my ‘crazy, tree hugging, permie hippie’ suggestions for what we can do to the house and garden without argument. He has began upskilling. He is looking at ways we can make our already well sited home even more energy efficient and at ways we can retrofit it for better solar passive design. He even asked to accompany me on a visit to David Holmgren’s property, which is something that I had thought would bore him silly. But no, he wants to see for himself what can be done and be able to discuss things directly with people who’ve been on this ‘bandwagon’ for decades.

    Dear Rohan, I am not afraid. Though I can see people around me starting the descent into panic, and I know that that path becomes steeper, and the descent faster and faster.

    Like you I am working to encourage resilience in my local community. We’re trying to establish community gardens and groups that will educate and support families, to enable them to become better able to care for themselves and their community, buying, consuming and growing local. We are trying to give people these skills to deal with those growing feelings of frustration and hopelessness that so many have. To encourage them to act now, rather than react with anger and fear later.

    As humans we tend to ignore slow changes, but when large change come, fast, we very quickly react. The slow creep of climate change has in the past lulled us into a false sense that it would be possible for technology to save us. This year I think we learned in our millions that it is inexorable and that we can no longer fail to act, if only to prepare ourselves.

    Good luck dear Rohan. I hope you and your family are blessed with bountiful mushrooms soon.

  • Justin

    You’re spot on the mark with this post Ro. The climate is changing before our eyes, but so few people are clued into the world around them that they haven’t noticed. Up here in highland southern Queensland the weather has gone completely haywire – a very dry 2012 spring, record heat in early summer, record rain in late summer (these two record were literally a week apart), and record cool conditions since Australia Day. We haven’t cracked thirty degrees since mid January. We’re still getting crazy summer storms. And still, I talk to locals every week who think everything’s normal. It’s not normal. It’s changing, and as another commenter said, the need to get off our bums and grow stuff, forage, and learn to cook is becoming more and more urgent. I’m off to sow some mizuna…

    • rohan

      Always a trooper Justin.

  • Joe

    I’ve been out a couple of times myself this year with no success either. Spots that had big hauls last year are bare. Hopefully we get some rain soon!

  • Mike

    I live in a unit in the City. I have no Backyard. So do millions of others. What’s your solution for us?

    Man this is probably your worst article to date. It is so full of buzz-wordy green pop culture that I’m not sure how you wrote it with a straight face.
    I actually thought you were taking the piss for a while….

    I hate to have to point out the blindingly obvious reasons we have a large scale centralised mass production food systems – but I have to as the more blatant reasons are probably lost on you.

    The fact that you allude that we should shut the shops and everyone should grow their own really is beyond logical comprehension. It’s a great ideal, but that’s about as feasibly far as you can go

    As you say in your article, the weather is unpredictable, and ALWAYS has been.
    This is not a new thing. There have ALWAYS been droughts, floods storms and other weather anomalies. ALWAYS. It may be getting worse, but that just bolsters the reasons mass production further.

    All you need is no rain, or even a bad frost in one place, and everybody’s idealistic backyard food production system turns into a giant pile of shit. everything dies, or if it even just has a lower than planned yield – and all of a sudden – people are starving.

    What will those people do for food then? I guess it’s back to the cans huh? That is if they can actually buy them any more now right?

    Its impossible for people to live as islands and be completely self sustainable. That’s why we became a civilised race to start with. We need to help each other just to get by. What about the guy that supplies your water or electricity? should he only work two days a week so he can tend to his flock and veggie garden the other 4 days of the week? What about the doctor, the surgeon, the school teacher, the mechanic – what about all the people who provide emergency or vital services – just so we can live… how are they supposed to do what they do.. and grow all their own food?

    There simply isn’t enough time in peoples lives to sustain themselves in food AND work to keep a working civilisation going. It’s just not possible.

    We need large-scale mass production food system. I’m not saying it’s perfect, I’m not saying it doesn’t harm the environment… But it’s a necessity of modern life. The population of the Earth is simply to big to sustain without modern farming, and growing your own is not the solution to this. You are never going to be able to scrap the whole system. And while the population increases, the problem is just going to get worse, we will need more food from less area.

    I don’t mind you talking about how growing your own food helps out, and it’s better for you – and the most important thing – it simply tastes better – but preaching that the whole food production model is fucked and we should scrap it really is just idiotic.

    And seriously – talking about carbon emissions and big industry when you own a couple of cars, one of which is a 4wd?? And complaining about industrial estates in one post, and then showing off pictures of your new car top tent in another? where do you think the tent got made?? In the zero emission sky factory staffed by tree spirits?

    Man I really wish you would stop preaching about this all the time, and get back to cooking and hunting… seriously… there are ENOUGH hypocritical evangelists out there – we really don’t need another one. I understand that this is what sells at the moment… but the tipping point of the bullshit scale is well and truly in the rear vision mirror.

    You probably won’t publish this on the blog, I don’t care – I just hope you read it. Although I doubt you will take anything I have said on board.
    I am not a ‘hater’ – I really enjoy your posts about hunting and cooking, but please stop ‘weighing in’ on the environmental issues all the time. To be honest – you’re not good at it, and it makes you look like a douche – sorry – but it does.

    • rohan

      Thanks Mike, you are correct your model of needing for more food production for a growing population but unfortunate that model relies on utilizing natural resources many of which are finite.

      Secondly I don’t think it’s feasible for everyone to stop work and tend a veg plot. The point is more that we need to find balance in our lives with what we consume. I own many material items but I make the effort to reuse and buy items that serve me practically and long lasting.

      Thirdly the food production system is massively flawed but my suggestion would be for us to promote food production closer to where we live instead of transporting it all over the country. And if its organically grown the. It’s requires no chemicals a huge reduction in carbon emissions.

      I won’t stop writing about this topic because its something that needs to be written. It’s why I fish and I hunt. Because that’s how I want to live my life as in tune with nature as possible and collecting protein as close to my house as possible.

      It’s all about choice. I choose a small 4wd and I run it on natural gas. You choose to live in an apartment in the city with no garden and that’s ok. You could choose to buy food grown as close to your city as possible as you effort for reducing carbon emissions.

      It’s all about choice.

      And even if you think I’m a douche for writing this then that’s ok. The fact remains that their is science out there that clearly indicates that our climate is in trouble and its a problem that exists even if a douche bag like me decides to stop writing about it.

      • J

        Keep at it Rohan. No one has all the answers. The point is that you’re prompting people to make their own investigations and their own choices. That’s super important. Who the fuck else is going to do that?

      • Mike

        How many farms ‘close’ to say Sydney do you think we would need to support the 4.5 Million population that live there? and feed them EVERY day?
        and not just with a veg box, but three balanced meals that will supply a diet for proper health and nutrition?

        well – lets work it out…

        Given that modern thinking says that 1/8 of an acre can support 1 person in Veg only (Jeavons, John – 2006)…

        and given that you want to grow without chemicals, lets say that means you need the farms to be 40% over sized to allow for losses?

        So that’s just the growing area – NOT including the infrastructure, outbuildings, processing plants, machinery storage etc, so lets add another 10% of the area for this,

        This means the farms would need to cover roughly 809,000 acres.
        (based on 2011 population)
        so that equates to a single area that is roughly 57 KILOMETERS on each side.

        And remember this doesn’t include any animal products – just soil crops.

        Do you think there is 3,275 Square kilometers of arable growing land in the suburbs of Sydney?

        Keep writing about it, But please think a little harder about what you are saying….

        • rohan

          You’re not really picking up the balance thing mike.

      • Zelda

        Please do keep ranting, Rohan! These are complicated issues, and there are no definitive answers, but anything that raises our awareness and makes us question our choices is, IMHO, A GOOD THING.

    • Fraser from Old Mill Rd

      Sorry Mike I couldn’t disagree with you more. This centralised industrial food system you talk about wastes more food than would feed the current population of the entire planet. As the energy required to produce food in this manner becomes very expensive as it is about to do, the food you get from your supermarket supply chain is going to get very expensive, as water becomes scarcer and interests try to start to control it then the massive irrigation costs to water your industrial food system incurs is going to add further costs. Mate it doesn’t matter if you don’t give a stuff about the environment (although I would like to understand how you will hunt and fish) it will eventually come down to price. And this may mean bringing lots of small scale food production closer to the consumer, not further away. Diversity is what insulates your small farm businesses from bad frost or drought, not growing lots of the same in one place. Dealing direct with consumers makes farming viable not, as in your system, putting a lot of middle men in the way which are required by law to be paid award wages EXCEPT for the guy who produces it, he can wait til next year. There are a really a lot of solutions being worked on so you can maintain your city lifestyle and still eat, even in your flat. You can choose to live lighter or not that’s cool but people like myself who see some problems with the food system, choose to try and do something about it and I don’t think that’s “beyond logical comprehension” in fact I think it’s quite logical indeed given the information that is available to me. Dismissing it as buzz wordy green pop culture and hypocritical evangelism just demonstrates that you think it’s all too hard to deal with and you hope someone else will fix it.

      • rohan

        What he said

      • Mike

        You couldn’t be more wrong, I’m not saying it’s too hard – I’m saying it’s not so easy or a simple as you think to solve the problems we face.

        I’d also love to see some hard numbers about your claims about food wastage. We throw away a lot of food each day yes – but that’s from the entire system, including the consumers at the ends of the process.

        We need to be smarter about the way we deal with the problems, pulling statistics out of your arse, and labeling someone who lives in the city as not caring about the environment, just because he takes issue with someone expressing views that are obviously not well thought through, considered or based upon logical thinking, is not helping your cause.

        There are loads of people these days who believe everything they read or hear without making a proper judgement for themselves. These are the kind of people who get sucked into giving money to Nigerian Princes on one end of the scale…and into buying ground source heat pumps, or going to church on the other….

        There are a lot of people out there trying to sell you all kinds of shit based on lies. Some people choose to think for themselves and look at things logically… others bury their heads in the sand and go along with whatever they are told.

        Surely I don’t need to explain to you who are the real problem solvers?
        “Green washing” is a real thing.

  • Steve Burns

    Great post Rohan – and the real challenge is in the fact that (as you say) the people who read it here aren’t the ones who need to. It’s the people throwing all those cans of soup into the cart who we need to reach and that can sure seem like a challenge… still, if more of us do what we can in the back and front yard and start to be examples to our friends, that’s got to help. On a bright note, last Saturday 30 adults and about 8 kids descended on a property in Sebastopol (Ballarat, Victoria) for a permablitz and cranked out a couple of wicking beds, some compost bays, dug & laid drainage, rearranged lots of soil and rock, planted fruit trees, veggies and herbs and left the householder wildly excited with her new productive home food garden. (So excited she worked in it all day Sunday!) As I walked away at the end of the afternoon, I reflected that days like that are why I’m involved with community groups. We had new people there we’d only met a week before and they worked all day for a stranger who became a new friend. The world is going to hell in a hand basket, but you’ve got to take pleasure in the good stuff, too!

    p.s. I know there’s been a bit of rain around Ballarat the last few days so maybe a few saffies are kicking off under the pines as we write

    • rohan

      People like you are what the community needs. Well done Steve. I value your work.

  • Brendan

    I believe that there was 132 temperature records broken across Australia this past Summer, for heat! This is ridiculous. Can ‘t people see whats going on?

    The soup analogy is great Rohan. Don’t people get it, processed food is chemically laced shit. Our nation, and all nations that eat this crap have been gettting unhealthier, fatter and crankier ever since the post WW2 industrial food revolution. We gotta wake the f**k up.

  • paula

    you forgot to mention that the soup in the tin also tastes like crap … i love hearing your thoughts. fingers crossed you’ll find some mushrooms soon, its raining in the city today, got drenched walking to school and loved it.

  • Sarah

    I already make our own bread, biscuits, cakes, crackers and cook nearly all our meals from scratch and often with our own vegetables and fruit, either fresh or preserved. We go apple picking in autumn and have solar power and a rainwater tank. I find it hard work but rewarding, especially when my children are so healthy and happy. Thanks for reminding me why I do all this!

  • Clare

    I totall agree and good on you for saying it how it is!
    I live in a beautiful country town in Victoria, where we have an awesome green grocer who stocks his own veg from his own patch, a farmers market and a guy who grows organic veg which you can have a bag full of once a week (like your boxes). It is mind boggling for me the number of people, intelligent people, environmentally minded people who drive to Aldi which is 30 minutes away and buy their food because its cheap. I really don’t understand this and the logic behind it. There seem to be a lot of poeple who seek out the cheapest food possible, even if it means travelling (time + carbon emisions) or a product which is from overseas. I won’t go on, I might do as you have done and go and cook some thing. Thanks for your posts Rohan, they are refreshingly honest!

  • Carleene

    Thanks Rohan:) really well said!

  • lemmiwiks

    The elephant in the room is population. It’s a taboo subject, but there’s just too many people on the planet. The link between the industrial revolution/oil age and population is no coincidence.

    • rohan


      • Kristy@SeeMyFootprints

        Paul Gilding, ‘The Great Disruption’ – it’s not ~just~ population. Even if the population STOPPED completely tomorrow, that wouldn’t be enough. It’s people x consumption x ernegy used/pollution output or something along those lines (don’t have the book handy and have forgotten the acronym).

        Bottom line, what’s happening now, this ‘grow grow growth based economy model’ is not sustainable. Alternatives WILL be found but maybe just not in the way some think.

        It IS about balance and it’s also about not trying to substitute necessarily one thing for another, but taking a fresh look at the picture in the first place… ie it’s not ‘what can I use instead of a fridge’ but rather, what can I do that means I won’t need a fridge’ (ok ok don’t quote that example but it illustrates the concept).

        • Kristy@SeeMyFootprints

          and, I should add, I am far from achieving ‘the balance’ but I work on it every day, one way or the other. I have my goal and I fully intend to get there and while I can’t do everything now, I can research, practice, learn and plan.

  • Amy Deering

    I live in limbo-land, that place where you have every intention of making the right choices but where the closet farmers market is 40mins drive away and Woolies has made sure no other competition can get a foot in, and I live in a low economic area which makes what there doing even worse. I bought a packet of frozen shortcrust pastry the other day and when I went to use it was mouldy, to my despair I had to bin it, and for the first time I made my own… flour, butter, salt, eggs and water… it was already in my pantry and took all of 10 minutes to make… what insanity led me to believe I needed to purchase pre-made in the first place? To cut my ramblings off; It’s easy to disconnect and put on your rose coloured sunnies but your blog posts help me keep a reality check and to keep doing every little thing I can so thank you!

    • rohan

      That’s a beautiful example of how one can use the raw products and make it yourselves. Sure you used flour and sugar and maybe some salt but those basics have kept society fed for years. It makes sense to me that if we where to use what we grow or is bought from local growers and then cook using basic as you have in this case, that we would be bypassing a good deal of food transport and energy used in packaging.

      My idea is not to live a life being completely self sufficient but to make positive changes in reducing what we consume.

      A lot of people making little change equates to a large reduction in carbon emissions.

  • Sarah

    Rohan, I justed wanted to say I feel your pain! I think the can of soup really sums it all up.
    But as pissed as I am about the lack of mushrooms and all the can soup in production, I was sooooooooo EXCITED to see your wonderful book for sale in a local Geelong newsagents a few weeks ago!!
    I know how hard it can be sometimes when it feels as though the only ones listening are the already converted, but you just need to ignite the spark of one to influence a community.
    I am sure the lucky person to buy that book will feel inspired by your actions and feel compelled to spread your word. I know I did!

    Keep up the good fight!!!

  • S

    I have nothing but respect for what you are advocating. I wish I could gather all the like-minded people and give everyone a big hug. People just don’t think about where the tins of ‘food’ come from. It’s all about instant gratification. Who cares about the process? We’ll just exploit the earth we live in and find another planet to move too. Sigh.
    There is so much joy and sense of accomplishment when you make your own meal from scratch. And you know EXACTLY what goes into your body. Sure, not everyone can afford to do that every day but like you said, it’s all about balance. Limit your reliance on processed food. See the difference it makes. Eventually, you’ll realise you don’t even want any of that rubbish in you any more.

    • rohan

      Thanks for your kind words. I’ll take a hug any day.

  • Robyn

    Take heart on a number of fronts…
    live in Coburg and come from a farm background, so am constantly foraging (urban and rural) growing what I can, sourcing local, being mindful…blah blah blah. I wanted to let you know there are massive movements happening in communities–transition town groups popping up all over Melbourne (cant say for other major cities), community gardens, farmer markets at more and more locations and many other initiatives….the ground swell will become the new normal over time, especially with these principles becoming basic curriculums in primary schools – I have hope for the next generations (in Australia-I cant comment on the rest of the planet).
    On another note–our family went pine mushrooming last weekend up your way, and was rewarded with a great bounty in only about an hour or so. After another week or so of wet weather, I think there will be many more of those golden gems in the coming weeks.
    All the best–I may strike you in the pine forest in the coming weeks ;)

    • rohan

      Positive news. I’m heading out for another look this arvo. Fingers crossed.

  • Emmy

    I want my fucking mushrooms too, Rohan!

    And can I admit something…
    When it got announced that North Korea was threatening to nuc us all, a strange thought went through my head…
    As devastatingly sad and violent as that would be, I kind of shrugged and thought, “well, at the rate we’re going, we probably deserve it and maybe it’s best if the human race start all over again from scratch.”

    Though if we’re all blown up then there’d be nobody around to warn us of the mistakes we’ve currently already made so as to stop us from making them all over again…!

  • Alex

    face it, the simple truth is we are surrounded by 80% of idiots who give a shit about mostly everything. The will never get it. 10% of the remaining 20% could get it but they are ignorant and the remaining 10% are the ones who care and understand. we can try to influence the other 10% and try hard and probably waste our time to get a small percentage of the 80%. Rather spend the time to intensify the bonds between the loved ones, family and friends.

  • paul viner

    Somebody has to draw the line in the sand and say “enough is enough” but i find it hard to fathom why we do what we do. I sit her and think about what is the pursuit of happiness,have we been conditioned to think that what we have and not who we are is the key to our survival. When things like superannuation are the basis of our retirement future we should be worried. Remember these funds are investing in mining, timber industries, property, transport etc and they all have a part to play in the degredation of our lives. I would love to write more but i am afraid i will piss off certain groups of people and i don’t think thats right.

  • Ash Hall


    I was a little luckier- friends farm that I shoot on, they irrigate so was spoilt really- 4 buckets and we cherry picked- re my blog- love mushy’s – great blog as always

    • rohan

      Nice work Ash!

  • Catherine Harris

    Mike- there are so many options for city folk without backyards! Use your imagination! I lived in a flat in Melbourne for several years. I had a balcony and managed to create a productive herb garden, grew tomatoes, strawberries, chillies, and other fruit/veg that work in small spaces. If people don’t have balconies, there are always community gardens, farmer’s markets, food co-ops, not to mention countless organic veg box schemes (of course). We don’t all have to grow our own food, but we can (if we choose to) do what we can according to our circumstances. We are all part of a community- I don’t believe that the goal is for each of us to cut ourselves off from society and become self-sustainable islands. I don’t grow enough food to sustain myself and that is why I order veggie boxes from Rohan.

    Small-scale organic farming and other sustainable farming practices internalise environmental externalities. That is why these methods are sustainable. On the other hand industrial agricultural systems use the Earth like a credit card. For decades the industrial agricultural model has eroded environmental, socio-economic and cultural values under the guise of increased productivity. This model has not solved the issue of hunger, as close to one million people continue to go hungry every day. Population growth, climate change and peak oil will only exacerbate the problem of food insecurity. Food production cannot remain in status quo.

    We need to talk about and act on these things, Mike, otherwise we would fall into a state of apathy and depression about all the shit things in the world and feel powerless.

    I wish you the all the best.

    • rohan

      Catherine Harris you dynamite of good word writing person you! I couldn’t have said it better.

    • Mike

      Yeah – it all sounds great on paper – but like I said – It’s just not enough

      Organic farming is actually worse for the environment (in terms of carbon) than non-organic farming.

      Seriously you people should read more…

  • Kristy@SeeMyFootprints

    I read somewhere that it’s in fact not a battle to save the Earth, because the Earth in the end will save itself, rid itself of it’s ‘pests’ (humans) and recover, eventually. Truthfully, it’s about saving ‘mankind’ (which means we have to save the Earth as we know it).
    I mean, it’s both, but in the end the Earth will win if humankind doesn’t sort itself out.

  • Eugene

    If everybody goes hunting and gathering, there wont be any nature left pretty soon. Here in Germany there’s hardly any wild nature to begin with. Some people do grow some vegs on their own but if everyone HAD to do that, it would be a disaster.

    Another thing about organic food, for example meat – it actually causes more pollution to grow one “organic” cow in better conditions. That’s why organic food is so expensive, you litetally get less output with more effort. More quality means more work means often therefore more pollution.

    • Mike

      Great post Eugene – although the truth isn’t real popular round here.. :)

      It’s all about glass houses and hot air…

  • Peter from Germany

    Hi Rohan,
    first of all, i love reading your posts and getting an insight what’s going on on the other side of the globe. I also enjoy trying your recipes from your book. Just surprised my family with “Aunty’s zucchini soup” … we will definitely have that dish again soon.
    Concerning mushrooms: my wife an i are mushroom-crazy too, but have also encountered years where there almost no mushrooms growing though our modest german weather conditions should be perfect for them. then the next year they come back and there are heaps and heaps of ‘em. or years where there lots of one mushroom species, and the next year almost none… since mushrooms are no plants they seem to follow their own rules. so if next year you have more rain and lower temperatures you may go foraging again like you used to. by the way: we clean them dry, cut them into pieces and put them in the deepfreezer. you can keep up to 6 months and they still taste well when you fry them.
    Keep up your good work, greetings from down under (from your perspective),

  • narf7

    Right there with you Sir. Even black thumbs can grow a pot of parsley. Television is killing us. Steve said that he was going to sit in front of it tonight with a pen and paper and write down everything that he “needed”. I didn’t know what he was talking about until he said “listen to this next commercial…” we both listened and it suddenly became apparent that we NEED a specific kind of dishwasher detergent because unless we use it, our home was about to be taken over by bacteria! Our home is definately full of bacteria. We use it every day to bake bread, to facilitate the quaffing of beer, to culture our milk and to give us that bit of chocolate that we try to resist. I ate from my garden this year. The very first garden on Serendipity Farm and it won’t be the last. I was so happy with my venture that it is going to only get bigger and better from here. Living simply isn’t an option any more, it’s a necessity. I live in Tassie (thought that last post looked like Tassie ;) ) and although we own our own little bit of riverside heaven its dry…its rocky and the mushrooms that I hunted out and photographed with great delight last year are just not there. We can’t keep sticking our collective heads in the sand and mindlessly droning “not in our lifetime” because it bloody well IS in our lifetime folks and even if we don’t give a shit about our children and our childrens childrens futures we are all selfish enough to want to ensure our own ongoing existence! To the person that throws their Hungry Jacks wrappers and Banjo’s coffee cups out on the bend around the corner, your kids won’t have that luxury. To the person that tossed a whole carton of empty water bottles out at the road sign just up the road WTF?! You care enough about yourself to drink bottle water but not about the environment?! We live in little protected bubbles of denial and anyone trying to implore us to simplify our lives is seen as a crackpot survivalist that should be locked up…protesters in the trees in the Tarkine “bloody hippies, should be locked up!”, People protesting the use of G.M. in crops “bloody crazy hippies, should be locked up”…the list goes on…so easy to negate the effects till they hit home and turn up in your own back yards and I am here to tell you folks…they are, right now…extended winters in the North…long dry exhaustive summers full of bushfires in the South, crazy weather, overfished seas and all for a bloody can of soup? Cook your own you lazy bastards and give the rest of us a chance to simply “live”!

  • http://facebook Gail

    As a child we mushroomed every Autaum- always after the rain and followed by a few sunny /warm days. We didnt get that this year- we got mega heat & only a sprinkling of rain follwed by cold – not what mushies need. The other thing mushies do not need is forign fertalizers! Once the superphosphate hit that padock the mushies where gone for ever. There where 2 patched on the the farm that where inaccesable for the machine due to rocks and the land being wet from the spring ( water emerging from the ground type spring) and so the mushies thrived. Would love to go back & roam those spots.

  • Ash Hall

    Great response people- it is true we can only make the earth inhabitable for humans, we will not destroy the actual planet- she has seen much worse than us.

    We all have something on our side and that’s how we choose to live- I have been to many conferences and been involved in adaptation research and it all points to us becoming more resisliant that will determine whether we prosper or not- yes its going to be different, hot an drier for some and wet windier for others. We will loose species, but earth has always done this. We need to know our neighbors, get involved in the communities we reside, get to know and love our food, share it and create interconnected networks of people that care. Dont waste any more time on those that choose to stay locked in their own homes, they will not make it.

    I cant save any species or stop the climate from warming, but I can live a better life, one connected with my friends, family and my food. take ownership over what you eat. Care for then kill your own meat and don’t waste a skerrick. People will copy what we do, because there is lots of benefits to living cleaner and greener- our lives are much more richer- ultimatly we are more happier- so well done to all Rohan listeners stay connected and keep on doing the do

  • http://facebook Gail

    Amy- you go girl- my moto if I can not identify the ingredents in a product by eye I do not bye it. I like to know what I am eating, – even make my own bread & you would be suprised how little wholemeal is in the commercial variety.

  • Darrun

    wEhAve lOts of vegTables where i lIve.

  • Jessie – Rabid Little Hippy

    I echo everything said here. Except for your comments Mike. I am sorry but you are wrong! With thought, consideration and dietary changes we could all grow our own food. I am sure in your area there is some vacant land. Nature strip? Median strip? Empty block down the street? IF we banded together as a community and raised animals to share (think back to WWII and how communities raised a pig on the allotment feeding it scraps) then we could all have our cake and eat it too. And yes, if we switched off our TV and got a little dirt on the fingers we WOULD have time. AND more money as we would be spending less on food which may allow us to work less which would in turn allow us to spend more time getting dirt on our hands which would in turn… You can see how it cycles up in a positive way. However, you can choose to sit on your hands, bemoan about your lack of space (surely you have a windowsill where you could grow some chives and parsley as a start), watch tv to allow you to stick your head in the sand and continue to live a life that is soon going to come to a grinding halt (unless you’re very wealthy in which case, be prepared to spend that wealth to continue to have your blinkers on) and watch the world continue on its downward spiral. Like a whirlpool it will get faster and faster the closer to the end we get.
    Rohan, you’re spot on the money and I’d trade some wild mushies for a can of condensed crap any day. May the autumnal rains fall where needed and the forest fungi come.

    • Mike

      wow – You have mad a lot of assumptions about me there Jessie.

      I’m not moaning about a lack of space – Just pointing out that 80% of the population live in cities with no (or not enough) space to support themselves with their own food like Rohan advocated.

  • Dayla

    great post, I’m with you all the way!

  • Jen

    Well spoken. Remember though that the average autumn break in western Victoria is actually Anzac Day, and last year we didn’t get a decent break until late May. The difference this year is that we have had no spring rains or summer storms to keep us going. We are desperate for a rain, so many of us have failed summer crops and have run out of rainwater. I have bore water for the garden: it is a bit salty but OK for veg. Not one mushroom to be seen.

  • head in the sun

    There are more evils in the world than mass food production that contribute to the degradation of the planet and of these YOU partake.
    So the ‘us and them’ mentality you espouse really holds no water.
    Coz you are NOT separate, different, alternative or apart.
    You wear manufactured clothes, drive a car, go to cafes, use roads, buy milk, use electricity, use a computer, your book is winging its way across the planet – presumably not by carrier pigeon – these things don’t come without a cost.
    Stop pretending you are any different from anyone else coz you don’t eat canned soup!
    You are the same as everyone else, whatever you may think.
    Big deal you don’t watch tele and instead of abusing the earth 90%, you abuse it 70%. You still abuse it!
    By being disparaging of others you suggest that you are somehow superior.
    And dude, you just aren’t.
    You can’t separate yourself from the masses and believe you are special just coz you grow some vegies and eat rabbits.

    You ARE a part of the great heaving mass that is modern civilization and you’ve got your fist in it just like everybody else.
    So stop slagging everybody else off!
    You can’t slag people off if you are doing many of the same things they are.

    Having said that, mostly, I agree with your philosophy on life!
    Reduce and try to live mindfully and I believe the way we do things can be held up to scrutiny.
    But that self-righteousness you possess just leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.
    I swore after I read your last post and you had a dig once again at “the other” it would be the last post of yours I read, but here I am again.
    But this time, yeah….see ya.

    • rohan



      MY post here is about one of those factors. Food. It’s one are we have become addicted to conscience which In the fine details has a huge negative impact on the environment.

      Of course there are other contributing factors to our climate woes, and of course we can all reduce our level of consumption therefore reducing our carbon footprint. The way we live in our house ( which I’ve stated before on this blog is not perfect) is one in which we address reduction of consumption by shopping secondhand, reusing, living without excess electrical items, and this approach to living is bloody lot more than most of the western world (generally speaking people DO NOT CARE). Of course this is typed on a computer!!


      If you have not picked up that message…


      • head in the sun

        yeah, yeah – I’m going, I’m going.
        But you miss my point (you actually just reinforced it).
        Open your mind and read it again.

        • rohan

          See ya!!!!

    • Mike

      Wow…. and here I was thinking I was the only one who felt like this…

      Seems Rohan only likes the sycophants to comment though…

      • Justin

        I’m not convinced you even know the meaning of the word “sycophant” Mike, let alone have used it in any kind of coherent fashion. Many of the commenters on this blog have been following Rohan’s work since he was publishing Day Book Exchange.

        I stumbled across WLL years ago (well before Rohan had signed a book deal or started getting speaking engagements) while doing a search for mushroom hunting. Ironic, isn’t it, that the same topic has drawn out all the tall poppy cutters. Give the bloke a break. He hasn’t asked for followers and sure as hell wouldn’t stand for sycophancy.

        I’ve found it a pleasure to witness Rohan’s journey over the last couple of years. I don’t make a habit of pissing in people’s pockets, but I’ve been inspired by WLL and look forward to what Rohan might get up to in the future. He and his family are doing their best. If you can’t offer something constructive, maybe you should pick up your bottom lip, take your bat and ball, and go home.

        • Mike

          I get it – You’re Rohan’s biggest fan. good for you – seriously.

          I thought I was being constructive?… too constructive for some obviously…

          I like tall poppies – not for cutting though.
          It’s amazing what small minded people assume….

  • http://andrasavtryck claes.oberg

    A Good Reminder,Thank You. claes

  • Bryce

    I’m really confused as to how someone’s initial response to a post like this is ‘attack mode’. I’m genuinely surprised by the number of comments that have interpreted an article, that was purely an expression of frustration at the feeling of helplessness in an area they are passionate about, as being bigoted, conceited or ignorant. Granted, there are various industries and forces that contribute to environmental degradation and resource depletion, and it is near impossible for people to live a life that uses zero of the resources and has no impact on the environment. And even though these are two opinions I have not seen refuted on this site, but rather acknowledged at various stages, it seems to be the go-to argument for people who are offended/frightened by the notion that being a consumer comes with responsibility. It would be foolish to believe the population could live a carbon neutral life ‘off the grid’ in caves without experiencing adversity, however it’s ignorant to believe that encouraging a change in consumer purchasing patterns is incapable of reducing the negative impact on the environment.

  • Sue from the Sunshine Coast

    Wow, such commitment from all points of view. For me, canned vegie soup is eating salt and preservatives and flavourings – chemicals that my body doesn’t need and may even be reacting to in terms of diseases.

    I won’t feed stuff to my kids that are oversalted – becasue salt is addicitive,
    I won’t feed stuff to my kids that contain fructose, because it is addicitive and contributes to obesity,
    and I won’t feed stuff to my kids that contain fat which is addicitive and leads to obesity.

    All of these things contribute to diabetes and cholesterol increases. Whilst these diseases have always been around the prevalence is increasing and age of vulnerability is getting lower.

    I grow my own stuff but not enough to sustain me so I buy from locals, even meat and fish. This is how our communities stay alive and our schools stay open and our country can still maintain farmers to grow for the city folk who have a greater reliance upon food sources from supermarkets. The farmers I know make more money out of dealing directly with the public than they do from selling to the ‘big two’. So in a way, because of people like us, we are supporting farmers to mass produce for our city fiends, otherwise they couldn’t make money.

    Sorry to rave: final point: my neighbours have changed, 32 dairy farms have been reduced to 7. Where will the milk come from once we no longer have a dairy industry? We can only control our own production methods, not overseas producers. What will they have to add to the mild to lengthen the shelf life to cater for transportation?

    I want the ‘big two’ to stop demanding farmers produce a tomato with a longer shelf life and go back to flavour. I want bananas that are ripened on the tree and not in a shed pumped full of gas. I want garlic that hasn’t been dipped in sulphates and amonia. I want apples that were picked the same year I eat them, not last year.

    I’m not saying it is all possible, but people, it’s getting away from us.

    • Miriam

      What’s wrong with fructose? It’s in honey, apples, my berry bush, freshly dug up carrots… etc, wouldn’t it be the lesser evil compared to sucrose?

      And really, sugar’s not bad, just take it in moderation and take it from natural sources, no?

  • Tom


    I’m been doing a lot of thinking about the ideas of personal change (adjusting our own behavior) and political change (trying to change our systems of industry, subsidies, etc). Ultimately, the consumers drive the market and thus deserve a fair bit of blame for what has happened, but I also think that we sometimes unfairly demonize people for personal actions that, statistically speaking, represent only a small fraction of of the damage our planet sustains. At the same time that we’re condemning someone for using a paper cup, we are often ignoring the actions of the paper company that made the cup.

    Anyway, I was first turned onto this train of thought by this article in Orion Magazine.

    I think the article somewhat ignores our power as consumers to vote with our money and cause social change with our consumption preferences. But still a thought provoking piece.

  • Brenda

    ha! this metaphor reminds me of one my Italian father in-law loves to share. He says in this day people are happy to spend $100 per kilo on potatoes…why? because they wanted them grown, washed, peeled, chopped and frozen for them so they can pull them out of the freezer and into an oven in order have chips. “me” he says “I grow my own for pittance and wash my own potatoes and it cost me next to nothing”…I never tire of hearing his little rant…so similar to your soup can! The mushrooms better grow by May!!!

  • Courtney

    Well said! I actually live in a place where I can grow my own veg (save for herbs), so I go to my local farmer’s market every week.

  • Shelley

    Love the tin of soup metaphor – I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall over here in NZ trying to convince people to grow/hunt/forage and support local businesses. My friends think I’m a little demented, my god we don’t even have a tv! But nobody turns down an invite to a meal here and there’s never any leftovers – plus we can all have a rollicking good conversation without the competition of the idiot box blaring away in the corner.

    PS sorry about the mushrooms – we seem to have them all here – you see it is an unseasonably warm and wet autumn here and we’re having a mushroom bonanza.

    • rohan

      Where abouts in NZ are you? I have a friend who is hanging to find some pine mushrooms (saffron milk caps) in Wellington. Are you in the north or south?

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  • CityGoneCountry

    Moved to the country 2 years ago and have made huge strides towards sustainability in that time. Grow our own food and raise our own animals, in fact excited about harvesting our first tomatoes in the next couple of weeks! I totally agree with all of us taking a more active role in providing for ourselves, but why does every conversation link today’s industrial systems to climate? The earth has it’s cycles, as does everything in life, and for us to think we actually have an impact on the temperature is sheer arrogance. Don’t know about down under, but the temperature will change a good 30 degrees here in Texas today due to the movement of the sun in relation to the earth. Is it possible that the fractions of a degree climate “scientists” discuss over years and years is due to the sun as well?

  • unstoppable

    I have an equal understanding of human nature. Think about what I am about to pose. Imagine there were two animals left in a zoo. A pair of giraffes, being the only wild animals left on earth. A human child is born with a life threatening condition, yet scientists and doctors find a cure which will save the human child, though it requires harvesting organs from the giraffes which would prove fatal for the giraffes. You will hear these words spoken, “We had no choice”. Every reader will agree that scenario if encountered will play out. You know it. Yes, we had a choice as a species, and we have made our choice as a species. That sais it all about human choice.