The term organic has become somewhat of a metaphor these days, taken under wing of the 21st century, the label of organic is used more to sell a product than a qualitative descriptive noun. Eating organic is probably the most attractive of the consumer side of this lifestyle, that is if you can read between the lines. But beyond the certified organic hemp milk, fair trade cocoa, and rare amazonian nut crops that you may find in your health food store, there is more to the organic way of life. It takes a bit of universal knowledge, interest in biology and botany, intrigue into ecological issues, studies of anthropology, product awareness, conscious negation of modernism, disciplined use of substances, and well, I guess you really need to cultivate this type of lifestyle like a farm, with all aspects of your existence working coherently and balanced towards a sort of unified holistic machine, an organic primordial force, rather, that is, You in your fullest potential.
Beyond the diet, the hygiene, and yoga classes, there are deeper ways to go into a sustainable and ‘organic’ lifestyle. Everyone has a hygiene ritual of some kind, but some let it become habitual, then sporadic, then neglected, then not at all. If you have ever tried to monitor your hygiene, speaking from a travelers point of view, it is a tricky thing when on the move. The water you are drinking and showering in, the air you are breathing, what you are putting on, and in, or around your body, as in scent, are all factors to your personal makeup. As a traveler, you pass through the urban megalopolis of the worlds cities, staying in hostels, showering in chlorinated water, drinking the same, cooking on dishware that has been washed in chemicals, sleeping on bed sheets and pillows that have collected the essences of thousands before you, on spring filled mattresses, and probably compromising your diet to eat the continental breakfasts of sausage and battery cage eggs, or buying some inconvenient superstore foods. This is the average European or British hostel. There is an illusion of cleanliness, abundance and proper facilities. The instant resources in every building are attractive, until you start to question. I won’t shy from saying I have spent my own nights in hostels on last resort, but I never stay longer than a couple sunrises, and I always pack in my food, and quick out of the crowded rooms.
At all costs, I am not a tourist, so I prefer to seek out the locals in the countryside, with access to clean well water, fresh breathing air carrying scents of woods, plants, and livestock. Health to me is sacred, and I don’t care if I pay 5 euros for a jar of peanut butter, and another 5 for a couple pints of free range goats milk, I can never bring myself to buy the alternatives for a sale. When I look at the labels of modern industrial food, I see to myself, this is not even food. If you took all the individual ingredients of modern food for example, and you imagine them separated on a table, sometimes over 20 items of unnatural flavors, preservatives, sulphites (poisonous), colors, starches, sugar and derivatives of sugar, modified milk, acids, salt, chemicals, syrups, and pasteurization of perfectly nutrient animal products, then you mix it together, this is no longer even recognizable as food. Why can’t something just be essentially what it is, instead of long lists of unpronounceable ingredients. So people are buying these, and because the label on the front is lying to them on what the label on the back says, they are deceived, thinking, it is all one and the same, consciously neglecting their health for a sale, cutting the minutes off their life, and actively killing themselves by depositing these things in their body. Many people seek a kind of ‘alternative’ source for food when they want to eat clean, and this can be useful, but I don’t like this term. The alter-native denotes something that would have pertained to our indigenous ancestors and is no longer used, an alter native method is proposed, instead I like to think in terms of original sourcing. The ur-product that one always has to start out with, and what is readily available for nature. Nature is the greatest health food store, medical cabinet, supermarket, and pharmacy on earth, if you know how to benefit from it.
It is of extreme importance to me when I travel to forage, whenever the opportunity provides, even in central Europe where there is limited species available for foraging, you can find abundance. I have been able to find tens of species of berries and wild fruits, leaves, and even roadkill meat some times. This is something I hold belief in, that one should not waste perfectly good life. Not by consuming less than nutrient food, or by buying meat. This is why I have only collected, grew, or traded or caught my meat in the last 4 years, though I have found vegetarianism suitable to a routine diet, in reality and biologically, I am an omnivore. I will eat a dead pheasant, deer, or squirrel found on the roadside if not bloated and still fresh, I think there is no disposition in relating this to an organic lifestyle, and I think there should be no taboo surrounding this in the mass population. It is wild, and free meat, so travelers take note, this is some of the finest dining you can get. Cooked over a fire, at your camp, I have even found fish brought up from the lake shallows by gulls and other seabirds, then dropped on rocks, salmon still with the eyes dark, barely hours old, that ended up on my iron skillet. I see the importance of foraging as well for the connection it brings to our most primordial nature. This form of organic living is a proponent I want to propel into anyone reading this. I have yet to be on a hunt, but now in Newfoundland island, I have prospects out for the annual moose hunt, which I hope to procure some high quality proteins for the autumn. Hunting is the natural progression of foraging I think, and is not a question of morality or sympathy, but empathy and understanding of ecology.
Beyond food and what I put in my body, I try to advocate for those seeking a simpler and more natural existence, a life without plastic. Yes, this laptop I write on has plastic elements, and I listen to music on a plastic ipod which is a decade old, but I have chosen deliberately to live a life almost completely devoid of plastic. I am always looking for better, more sustainable and reusable products. I have even been investing into a laptop from Africa, running completely off solar energy. From the hygiene products I use made from wood and bamboo, to the surfaces I sleep on and in, a down filled sleeping bag, clothes made from hemp, pure cotton, wool and tweed, my tools and instruments, footwear and even the rucksack I carry everything with on my world travels, built from waxed sail canvas. It is easy to acquire gear and not think about these things, like cheap tenting equipment, books, clothes, and self care items. Often I have rather spent the time building a temporary shelter or sleeping out in the open with just some warm wool sweaters and a goathair blankets under shelter of some broadleaf trees when on the road, for want of not carrying around a plastic house. The modern tents are manufactured with petro-chemicals, polyplastics, fire retardants, dyes, and inorganic fabrics, that are not only claustrophobic, but also carcinogenic to breathing, not biodegradable, not aesthetically pleasing, and stressful to the movements of the person within. A plastic free lifestyle is closer than you think but you have to start from almost nothing. Strip down, naked, and carefully select everything that could be useful for a traveling lifestyle, then work at refining your stock, until everything you own actually brings you joy, rather than just ephemeral use. lifewithoutplastic.com website is a source I found out later, but seems a pretty good start.
Besides being a traveler, I am a farmer, so the fusion of nomadism and agriculture is my main means of survival, and thriving in this world. I find it harder and harder, in the modernized and industrial ‘first world’ countries like those of Northern Europe, Canada, U.S. and the British Isles, but also in the Mediterranean, the prospects of finding good fertile land. And by that I mean, soil that has not been deprived, and manipulated to only grow a few select crops in the millions, or diverse grasslands that have not been mowed down and seeded with one type of greenery for the specific grazing of one variety of livestock. I wish it were not this way, and I don’t feel any pride saying even my home country is hugely guilty of this. With the loss of cultural tradition, subsistence small scale farming, the shifting of age demographic to older generation groups, and the rise of big-ag. there is increasing difficulty to find work, not only for me, but other young travelers I meet wanting to get back to the land. I have been stuck volunteering for the bulk majority of my work, I would say 8 out of 12 months of the year is spent working for free. Romantic and altruistic maybe, but it is because I can not even find a meager living with a sustaining wage on any farm that uses permaculture principles, multi species grazing, diversity of crops, variety of landscape, traditional slow paced practice, hand tool ethics, and manual labor. People are being replaced my john deere tractors, sorting machines, auto-tillers, and massive equipment, and the people who run them are pressing all the levers and buttons to make it all go. Modern farmers aren’t really working hard, or efficient, they are just getting more done because they have more money behind it, and they still have time to live completely modern lives, watch the news, drive gas guzzling trucks, and live in futuristic houses. Last week I called a farmer on another part of this island, known for its prestigious farm heritage and pioneering. I was answered by an old man, who upon hearing that I was a traveler looking for work, looked past all my experience with old world breed animals, diversity of gardening experience, self style work ethic, and huge curriculum of experience, and exclaimed his disinterest in even getting near me. This used to be the running creed. Young people are now moving away from life on the land and forced into city lives, working barista jobs at starbucks, or marketing. These dead end routines do not conform to an organic lifestyles, and I see no honor or merit in them. Thus I would continue to urge those dirt worshiping feral men and woman to continue to push towards the farming life, there is untold beauty in it’s embrace and one that I can wholly backup.
With work, hygiene, and diet covered, you can think about your housing, most of the population live in cheap housing. Modern carbon copy houses, insulated with fiberglass which carries asbetos, surrounding by brick, or cinder block walls, chemically treated wood, carcinogenic painted rooms, plasticized furniture, gypsum rock which often has hidden black molds, bacteria carrying carpets, and grimy cooking, eating and sleeping surfaces. All for the sake of ‘public safety’, zoning permits, codes and governmental rules. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out when you spend a few nights in a drafty cabin in the woods, how much better your health will be even after 72 hours. You may get a draft of wind, the odd spider or insect, or even a drop of water through the roof once in a while, but the benefits of submersion in raw nature far exceeds the over-safe cocooning in element proof housing built into concrete wastelands. A week in the jungle even further proves this, you are not competing with unwanted destructive sounds like cars, and sirens, no walls of glass and steel outside your windows, in fact you don’t even have ‘windows’, just mesh screens to keep mosquitoes out, the air is not dead and stagnant inside, and there are plants growing just outside your door. Try moving into the wild, and just taking shelter in a natural setting, see how it affects your mental health, your sleep, your dreams. Analyze your thoughts during the day, do you have a long list of chores, or are you content with just sitting in your clearing or on your mountain peak and just being for awhile? There are no cafes nearby to get your morning brew, but fresh air, and unfiltered sunlight are adequate enough to wake you up, and get you going for the day. Then you can even think about bringing others into your company in a set and setting that would are attractive to anyone.
Your impact on this world is not only for you, and to paraphrase McKenna for a second “we are the meaning of our ancestors lives”. Such a sentiment should be carried everyday, and I would extend to that, we are the progenitors of our descendants meaning. To follow an organic lifestyle, recognizing your health as sacred and uncompromising, your spirit as sovereign, your hygiene is the way you present yourself to the people around you, and yourself, your work is ethical and important beyond filling your ego and your bank account, culture is not your friend to rap on McKenna again. You need to build your own. You can be unconsciously naive, and never grow, pleasantly idling in ignorance until your shell breaks from revelation, but then you have the responsibility to shift to consciously choosing, what and how you become, as you rapidly adapt to the changing ontology of this game of the fittest.