Joel Salatin and Rohan Anderson…in conversation

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I’ve been asked to sit down and chat with THE Joel Salatin.

Yes. Unbelievable right. Well it’s true! I mean he’s such an inspiration to so many people, farmers and consumers alike. And I’m the lucky bloke that gets to sit on stage talking with Joel.

If you can get to Melbourne you should come and see us chat. It’s the next installment of the ‘In Conversation with Dumbo Feather’ Magazine. Thanks Dumbo Dudes for inviting me to converse with this rouge farmer that I admire.

Details are here: Tickets are cheap…..but the conversation won’t be.

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Images courtesy of Dumbo Feather

heavy monday

Last week I was in the big BIG smoke – Sydney. It was hot, busy, smelly and crowded…everything you’d expect from a big city. One thing I didn’t expect to see was some inner city streets dotted with worm farm compost systems and veg planter boxes, lovingly set up by the forward-thinking city council. As I walked through the tight streets of Chippendale these little gems put a smile on my face. Then I walked out into the main street where I got slapped in the face with the reality. Thousands of cars, take away outlets.  The mass market. Well I had to pinch myself and try not to be pessimistic about the situation.

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It’s hard to face the reality that the main population, the millions of individuals whose consumer choice could make this world a better place, they just don’t seem to have the drive to care. There is a massive amount of people that do care, they do make an effort. But let’s be honest – ‘the people’ – the majority of the western world are more focused on other more important ventures in life…a better paying job, a newer car, that new model leaf blower, and what’s on the telly. I always get angry people complaining when I do posts like this, but it’s just the reality.

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Where we are as a species is challenging at this point in time. We can no longer fend for ourselves. We rely on the masses to survive. We’re more like ants than ever before. Really there are only a few roles that we all play, and those roles ‘contribute’ to society to keep the engine working. But if that engine collapsed, how would we all go as individuals? If you walked into your supermarket and there was zero food on the shelves, then you went to the next supermarket and saw the same thing, what would you do? Think of the millions of people all living in the city with zero food, all the restaurants closed, no take away, no food at your family and friends place. What would you do?

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We rely so heavily on ‘the system’. We trust in it unconditionally. We complain when food prices go up because of a natural disaster or because of an increase in fuel costs. We are smothered with choice and convenience. We’re made to feel that food is and should be a competitive high art form by television cooking shows, and that we should be everything wonderful all the time 24/7.

It’s all bullshit. You strip the elements of that system away, the logistical supremacy of chain supermarkets, the television, the convenience take away outlets, the drive through lifestyle, the magazines that make us feel like we need to improve ourselves…and so on.

Imagine how we’d all react.

All these thoughts and more were on my mind this morning as a did my daily ritual of checking on the progress of our future backyard supermarket, ie the veg patch. It made me want to try to live with less. I think I need to have a garage sale and reduce my ownership of stuff.

no gour-met

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If you asked me if I’m a ‘foodi’ I’ll abruptly answer no. I like good food, I like fresh home grown food, I like wild food. I like to cook with good ingredients, but that in no way makes me gourmet, artisan or bespoke. They’re all adjectives which make me cringe. If you walked up to Javier in Spain or Antonio in Italy and described them as gourmet they’d scoff at the very concept. Just because one eats chorizo, manchego, peccorino, jamon or sopressa salami it does not immediately brand them with the very western concept of a person so obsessed with food, the only time they stop talking about food is when they stuff their face with foie gras and foam laden 40cm white plates. That is a ‘foodi’. A person that can afford the luxury of eating out a few times a week at over $100 a pop. This I something far out of my reach. I just can’t afford it, and even if I could I’d shy away from this approach to food. My view of food is that it should be amazing, and be cooking with backyard grown produce, wild food, well raised local meats mixed with the traditional ingredients from the Spanish and Italian menu. With this approach the food so far is touring out pretty alright.

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This approach to keeping the food simple and true can be applied to making bread. I’m so intimidated by making fancy bread, because the reality is I just want basic bread. There are so many options from so many cultures, and I love to buy great French or Italian bread when I’m in town, and thats fine, for me when it comes to making the stuff my approach is still very simple.

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When I make a loaf its a plain old country job. Nothing ‘gour-met’. Anyone could make it. Thats the thing I like about poor mans cooking, it’s accessible for everyone. Thats what real food is. Simple to make and often made delicious purely because of the fresh ingredients used, the best of which appears to be coming straight from the back yard.

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Meals like this one are not hard for me to acquire. It’s more of that rabbit back strap, grilled with a serve of morel mushrooms cooked with home cured jamon and backyard sage. These are all ingredients with wild or made at home. Nothing fancy or gourmet, just delicious.

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sprung spring

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Yesterday morning it snowed. It’s not uncommon for us to get a massive cold snap in spring, usually after a spell of unseasonably warm weather. I love observing the battle of the seasons. Lately the storms have been indescribably spectacular! The mixture of warm sunlight on a field of yellow canola with the clouds rolling in, black as, well…something dark and black. And the temperature changes can really put you back in your place, most notably on those occasions when you smugly decided not to grab the Barbor jacket when you packed up the truck. When will I learn that nature is the boss? You’d think some turkey like me would have learnt by now. Nope. I’m still stuck in class, ‘Nature can always kick your arse – 101.’

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But the old girl has been nice to the veg patch. It’s growing with rather more vigour than the previous few winter months. Her warm sun has been a real blessing, and everything seems to be reacting with feverish photosynthetic activity.

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As usual I’ve found myself to be over zealous and I’ve already planted out most of the new garden beds. I love how excited I can get, a grown man stoked to see a seedling raise out from the soil’s crust, spread two baby leaves, then stretch and yawn, out from the seed’s slumber and then it goes forth and develops its sexual organs, the flowers get pollinated and voilà! Food!

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How can we not be amazed by this process? It’s mind-blowing. It’s totally taken for granted in many respects. I mean think about photosynthesis itself as a biological process. It’s the basics of the life cycle I was taught back in high school biology. And all of us, even meat eaters, we all rely on the magic of plants converting the energy from the sun into energy for us to consume and fuel our bodies. It’s phenomenal. The very thought of it developed an undeniable repeat for nature systems. No wonder I ended up a biology science nerd.

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Enough of my unhealthy obsession for plants, let’s focus on what time of year it is. It’s just time to get planting. If you’re in the south of Aust, get planting. Remember to ignore the experts. Just put the seed in the soil, and read the back of the seed packet, or plant a bought seedling…you can’t do any damage. And you’ll be rewarded with the best tasting home-grown food available.

It’s nothing fancy. Its just putting seeds in the ground and watching them grow. Kids in primary school do it. We, as adults, should all be doing it.

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Today we snuck in some yellow squash, yellow zucchini, hot capsicum and directly seeded three varieties of carrot.

Oh and we got another five chooks, and with our original ladies we have a full production of eggs now. It’s Tortilla Espanola season!

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And just in case you were wondering….yes the smokehouse is still standing. I love that house.

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it’s totally doable….

I’ve been doing a few media interviews lately. I get asked so many questions about the life I’ve chosen to live. It seems that I live the perfect dreamy life…and you know what? It’s totally doable. Anyone can change their life. It’s all a matter of choice. I choose not to complain and talk, I choose to do. And here I am…doing.

I’ve finally got the smokehouse delivering some great results. This last batch of smoked trout and eel was a success.

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Cuppa time, the morning after a smoking night…

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I should never have put a kero lamp in the cabin at night. I wanted to move in permanently.

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Success!!!

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A mate in my food community gave me two lovely beetroots last week which I poached and made a salad with my foraged walnuts, Turkish nomad feta, watercress, mint etc…delish. Sex noises ensued.

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It’s nettle season, and I made the kids a few nights worth of potato and stinging nettle pesto pizza. They loved it. I loved that they loved it. Rad.

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But the biggest success was cooking rabbit back strap with morels, my jamon and fried sage. While consuming the meal, I had to tone down my usual sex noises as I had a guest. But honestly I’m sure she made some noises in her head. Such a lovely dish of wild food.

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I’m glad I’m at this place. One day I’ll die. And just before I do, I hope I get to re-live every single beautiful moment. I’m so blessed to have beautiful people in my life. You all know who you are. Much love to you all.

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