The Story

A few warm spring days snuck up on us like a snake in the grass, in fact the odd snake and shingle back lizards have been seen basking on the hot roads. Had spring finally arrived? All of a sudden it appeared as though the chilly winter blues were finally moving on. It got me thinking about sorting out one last hunt for the year. Tramping through the dry bush on foot in summer is not my idea of fun. Not only is it hot and sticky, but the hunters mind is focused on the prize of deer, not the venomous brown snake lurking at their feet. Summer for this hunter is reserved for nurturing vegetables, berries and fruit tree’s, and of course the odd wad up a river with the fly rod. I leave the deer alone to grow fat on summers goodness, then I’ll return when they go mad in autumn.

A few calls were made and the last hunt arranged. A quick overnight trip with the opportunity to hunt one dusk, one dawn.

Jack and I talked most of the drive up. The country was flat, with the rare slight undulating hill an exciting feature on the landscape. We passed mostly barren looking land, marginal farming at it’s worse. The low rainfall of the past winter showed plenty of stunted and failed crops. Many dusty roads and blistering highway we drove until we came to the farm we’d been invited to.

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By the time we arrived, the sun still sat too high to hunt, so we said our hellos to the boss and set off down the bush to explore. The block seemed to go on forever, we crossed flat pasture, tilled soil and thick scrubby bush. It was perfect habitat for Fallow deer. We spent the warm afternoon walking and driving the various tracks and trails. We found deer tracks, worn down by repeated journeys of exiting the scrub to feed on nearby green pasture, which they do with the safety of darkness. We found scats, skulls and prints. This was definitely deer country.

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We set up a position, hidden in long grass we waited. Mosquitoes buzzed and bit any exposed flesh. Sugar ants snuck up from the grass for a quick nibble, and the warm sun blessed us with warm rays. It fell like a lifetime for the sun to dip low. It was at low sun that we hoped for something to appear from the bottleneck of deer tracks in the bush, out to feed on the pasture. Patiently we lay. Nothing but kangaroo! The sun dipped far too low to hunt, we packed it in and hunted hare in the evening, of which we also failed to see.

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Late that evening, almost at midnight, we set a fire and cooked a meal. In between bursts of conversation we rested silently in our chairs, contemplating the days hunt. We agreed we’d done everything right to make the hunt work. We lacked one vital element, Luck. We just weren’t at the right place at the right time. It’s one thing about hunting that can challenge your resolve. The thought of coming home without meat for the freezer. Even worse is the jibes from your partner. “Gee that seemed like a long way to go not to get a deer”. So supportive.

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Thankfully we have enough food to get us through. This hunt was more about getting food for Jack’s freezer, not mine! I guess he’ll just have to take more care with his veg garden this summer! We also hunted the dawn, but got stuck without luck once again. The drive home had my head full of thoughts about the reality of being a hunter. It’s a reminder from nature that we don’t get to choose when we get meat. That’s the way it works in the real world. But in the ‘man’ipulated world things are very different.

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The background

(warning- this article contains some honest colourful language)

I started hunting for meat years ago. I don’t know exactly when, in any case that’s irrelevant. What is important is why I started hunting. I knew I was eating poorly. I was eating meat that hadn’t been raised real well. I knew that most of the farmed animals I happily consumed, had lived a shitty existence. I knew that corners where cut so that we the consumer, could purchase the meat at a low price. So I made a personal decision that I’d rather eat meat that’s come from a wild free animal than eat meat from one that’s been treated poorly by human hands. But let’s put that issue aside for the moment.

 

I want to address the big driver behind Whole Larder Love. The philosophy behind how and why I live the way I do is based around the fundamental idea/reality that no major food corporation or government will have my nutritional diet and health in their best interests. They also don’t have your health in their best interest either. They do however take making money very seriously. Last night on the ABC iView was a phenomenal example of this very depressing reality. The industry body, the one which has the best interest of the food companies in mind, is the puppeteer of bad health. They believe that it’s ok that fast food and processed shit can be sold to us. They believe it’s up to the individual to self regulate what they eat. HELLO! IT’S NOT BLOODY WORKING!!!! We are getting fatter, sicker and dying younger. And it happened to me.

 

I myself only exist online because of this very dilemma. I got sick, I got ‘all of the above’ sick and I then started to change my life, hence the catalyst behind the blog. I didn’t self regulate, I just ate what I wanted. I’d eat a take away home delivered pizza late at night after a few bottles of wine and a packet of cigarettes. Not a pretty picture. With my hangover the following day, I’d head to another fast food outlet to eat me take away McHangover cure. An even uglier reality.

 

It’s estimated that 70% of Australian adults will be overweight or obese in ten years. We need to do something. The government isn’t being proactive. The big companies don’t give a shit about anything else but money. We have to take the initiative and do something.

 

This blog has been evolving for years. It now has mega clarity in it’s aim. To communicate the story of an Aussie bloke that changed the way he lived from Macca’s to mountains of kale. From Burger King to Rabbit Stew. From KFC to home grown vegetables. From supermarket junk to dirty but sweet home grown carrots. I am proud of the changes I have made. Why? Because I’m a living, breathing example that lifestyle change and nutrition can improve an individuals health. I’m proof that a person can make positive changes in regards to food and lifestyle. Ok my story may be a bit extreme and I’m not suggesting everyone do what I’ve done, the whole grow your own thing, but at least may I suggest we eat real food. That is achievable for everyone.

 

Oh and one last thing. That hunting mate of mine Jack. He often tells me his sulphite stories. So you know what sulphites are right? You know they’re added to most processed foods and drinks right? You know that they cause asthma, allergic reactions, and disrupt our gut bacterias right? Australia is the most under-regulated country in regards to sulphites being added in foods. The sulphite story goes largely untold. But the good news is that once it’s cut out of your diet your body repairs itself. Jacks personal story is encouraging but even better is the tale of one of his relatives, who had been relying on ventolin for years. After changing the diet to whole foods, and no sulphites the puffer sat in the draw for a year. Now I’m not suggesting it’s a cure for asthma, but what an amazing tale of overcoming something by simply eating what our bodies have evolved to eat.

Now isn’t that an amazing way to approach living well. Eating what our bodies have evolved to eat. No way! What an outlandish idea.

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Low fat. Low Salt. Added Fibre. Reduced fat. Reduced Sugar. All natural colouring and flavour.

It’s a haze of food bullshit.

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For years I was so confused. I’d walk those damn isles scratching my head, trying to make the most informed decision about the food I was buying. I also used to opt for the cheapest option, regardless of understanding why it was so cheap. Things have changed.

In 2014 food is bewildering. Just like all the other ‘information’ we’re fed, it’s skewed towards what they want you to hear. Yes that just sounded very conspiracy theorist. Stay with me please.

For example, (and this may get me in a lot of trouble here). Consider the amount of news we’re getting on ISIS and Syria. Or Australia’s recent spate of ‘home grown’ terrorist arrests. It’s pretty big news for the western world right? It seems like the whole damn thing is falling down around us. Well in a way the show almost winding up, with wild tuna stocks in jeopardy, ocean temperatures all over the place and the ice is still melting away, what have the Romans ever done for us?

But there is a more immediate problem thats knocking out us westerners and in big numbers too. Unfortunately the issue though is rather cloudy, it’s almost consumed within it’s own complexity. I write about this issue over and over again, and I will do so until I finally disappear like the wild tuna.

 Modern processed food is slowly but surely killing us off, or at least making our lives miserably unhealthy.

And the pharmaceutical companies are rubbing there hands together and I’m a living example. As soon as it was discovered that I had hyper-tension I was administered blood pressure medication – Micardis. As soon as I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression I was immediately medicated with Lexipro. These two health problems are linked to diet.

Whether you believe in the science that suggests that it’s sugar or grain oils that are the culprit, or fat, salt, pesticides, herbicides or maybe you believe its the added sulphites or nitrates.

It doesn’t really matter what you or I believe to be as the individual culprit. The reality is that pretty well much all modern processed foods have changed our health in one way or another, not for better, but for worse.

The only real way to avoid the problem is to eat real food.

Nothing fancy. Just real bloody food. Food that’s grown without anything added but love. We should be eating meat that’s come from animals that haven’t lived a shit existence. In fact we should eat less meat. I suggest we each find an ethical farmer and support them for life.

I don’t have all the answers. But I do know what my past is. I know that I was sick because of my lifestyle choices, of what I ate and how I got sucked into fast paced, unbalanced work/life balance.

I do know that by making changes in my life, by learning to live like a peasant, to grow, hunt, and forage like a hipster, that I’ve made an improvement to my health and happiness (start burning incense now). And although that is a triple rad outcome, I think what’s even more rewarding is the whole process of how I live now. For example, I recently dug over the soil where last summers poly tunnel was. The soil has been resting all winter, primarily because my poly tunnel was destroyed by fierce winds. But as I dug into the soil, I felt such an odd sense of familiarity, like the soil has been part of my life for so long now. I have memories of digging over garden beds as a kid, and I’m almost 40 and I’m still doing it! And is’t that the way it’s supposed to be? Aren’t we supposed to be involved in what keeps us alive? What fuels us? There is something indescribable about that feeling I have in regards to raising my own food.

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So many emotions and feelings erupt when I eat food that I’ve made literally from seed. I think that’s whats been giving me balance and clarity over the last few years. But I’m still learning! I’m still on the journey.

 

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Today I sent off a few copies of my books off to some important people that I hope can help us out with the Nursery Project, and happened to flick upon a page in my old book with a recipe that had ‘tuscan sausage’ in it. What the hell is Tuscan sausage anyway? I probably bought it from a butcher no doubt, which I don’t often do these days, preferring to make them myself. But the point I’m making is that seeing the old me, the one that bought ‘tuscan sausage’ highlighted how much I’ve changed and learnt over these last three years even just since the books completion. I mean I didn’t even know what was really in those sausages. (I’ve since found out that the pork that supplies that butcher is factory farmed and every sausage has preservatives added).

 

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I’m still learning but now I’m also teaching. It’s an amazing process.

I’m wrapped to launch the Nursery Project website today.

It’s a big project, for sure, and it’s the next progression for us. To pass on and share what we know in the hope that it might bring some goodness to the community of us. Us the people. You know, the ones that are born from a mother and a father. Just us. Humans. Mad Love.

 

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Some light reading for you here:
Colorectal Cancer Epidemiology: Incidence, Mortality, Survival, and Risk Factors

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Many months ago I got a call from a friend about a bunch of piglets free to a good home. This is the second year in a row something like this has happened. Maybe the word has got out the I’m the man to contact to take care of unwanted pigs. And that’s alright by me.

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Anyway, as it turned out there were a whole bunch of piglets, of which I didn’t have the facility to take care of. So the piglets went to another friends farm, where I managed to strike up a deal to house at least one of those piglet’s in his porky nursery to be raised to maturity. All I had to do was cover feed cost. Seemed like a good idea to me.

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After a fair bit of mucking around (It’s been a busy year for me), we finally got that pig to the abattoir.  A day later hanging at a mates cool room was our beautiful pig ready for us to break down. I have a few pork gurus/mentors which I’m very stoked about, and this mate, well she guided and trained me in the process of breaking down a pig, just like when Johnny Castle taught Baby how to Dirty Dance. I did this job last year, but with a more commerical butcher who wasn’t really interested in teaching me any skills, he just wanted to chop the pig up as quickly as possible. Which is cool. That’s what I commissioned him for. But here, my mentor (female Johnny Castle, but with pork) really took me under her teaching wings. I learnt so much in just a few hours. It’s a blessing to learn from someone so passionate about what they do. She calls herself an ‘ethical omnivore’ which I’ve never heard of before but it makes total sense to me. Maybe I’m one too.

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The story here is that the little piglets where housed at a pig farm, a nursery if you will. They grew up with the care from the dedicated pig farmer, and finally matured into a beautiful animal. One step further and they transformed from living animal into a year supply of pork for our family. To finish of the process, the cuts have started to become cured little gems for future cooking like double smoked loin bacon, jamon, chorizo and hot salami.

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I’ve had an idea running in my head for a few years now. In fact for too many years, it’s been an idea,  just that. But I’m moving into action now. Last week we looked at a piece of land which was in fact an old nursery that raised little plants to maturity for sale to the public. It has all the bones I need for my big idea.

The idea? Imagine a place where we can show how to grow food and raise animals in a pegged out space the size of the average Australian backyard.

Imagine a place where we can cook real food for people, and where every meal served comes a recipe card so you can go home and cook the food yourself.

Imagine a place that could facilitate workshops and sharing of skills and ideas. And because I don’t have to rent it I can get the rates affordable so that everyone can attend.

Imagine a place for people to experience, touch, feel, taste a lifestyle so beautiful it makes this bearded grump so very content and happy.

Imagine a place where all people, all races, all religions, all the people can come to experience something beautiful. A mini harmonious nirvana, where it’s cool to be a human.

A place where people can buy food staples from producers. Nothing gourmet. Just real bloody food.

I’m working on a crowd funding project for the ‘Nursery’. It will be launched in the next few weeks. I will be calling in a million favours from everyone that cares. I have a LOT of money I need to raise. Like A LOT. I have a lot of meetings, brainstorming and favour asking ahead of me.

When I hear the word ‘nursery’ it evokes a thought of place’s where little things are raised and nurtured to grow into big things. I want to turn this old nursery into a place where I can nuture little ideas into big action.

In a time of chaos, fear, hatred and consumerism, we have an opportunity to make something beautiful happen. We have a project of hope. Watch this space.

 

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