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?..or, to be more inclusive, human beings cannot live by bread alone. True? Maybe. Certainly we need to be more inclusive in terms not only of gender or, of course, varied diet, but also in regard to our other needs for self expression ? through music, poetry and art, as well as with respect to a whole plethora of other social, psychological and, no doubt, spiritual needs. However, the question that really interests me concerns wild food. Susan Campbell, in her paper, The Hunting and Gathering of Wild Foods: What?s the point? An Historical Survey - a paper delivered at Oxford and reprinted in Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2004: Wild Food, poses the dilemma quite succinctly when she states, ??.nor have I yet met anyone who could convince me that modern man could subsist on wild food alone, legally or illegally, the year round, in a northern climate.? The question and the challenge, then, stand: Can a person live by wild food alone? There is only one way to answer such a question and that is by actually attempting to do so. However, a further question presents itself: Why would anybody in his or her right mind wish to attempt such a thing?
Having utilised wild foods in my diet for a considerable number of years, I know that the sheer variety and range of what is generally available is quite astonishing. Such a vast myriad of both familiar and more exotic flavours, textures, and unique nutritional dietary contributors means that, given sufficient availability, it would surely be theoretically possible to live on wild food alone. Well?? that remains to be proved by the possible sweat and tears of actual practice. Nevertheless, addressing the question, ?why?? , is at one and the same time to address those less tangible needs which, at the outset, it was admitted that without which we could not live. This is because eating wild food is not just about nutritional sustenance; it?s a lifestyle choice. That choice is in part a personal and practical answer to various disagreements I have with the world, the way it is, or rather, the way it is as an outcome of our interaction with it; the way it is, the way we are, but don?t have to be ? culturally, socially, economically and, of course, environmentally??????.

I?ve been thinking for two weeks now about carrying out the practice: living from only wild food a whole month and have decided to begin on the 30th of June ? just a few days away now. I?m even going to subject myself to a battery of medical tests tomorrow morning. However, as the day itself approaches the likelihood of success seems to do the opposite, retreating instead into the far distance. In the first place, I am so ludicrously busy at the moment that I barely have time to think about cooking a meal, let alone producing one from wild food. In the second place, I thought that although it?s mainly leaves and seaweeds that are available now, this wouldn?t be a problem because, no doubt, I could always top up any nutritional deficit with a choice piece of roadkill; that was, until I had lunch with a friend ? the sparkling Aglaia, She claims to be able to sniff out meat eaters from across the room. Actually, her method is more visual. Apparently it?s the dull eyes - compared with the bright sparkling eyes of the vegetarian - that?s the tell tale give away sign. Is it the shadow of death that dulls the inner flame, a corrupting of the soul to its very core or merely the sluggish arterial flow of stupefying saturated fats that deadens the vital light? Who knows the answer to such an imponderable question? All I do know is that after a few months of poor health ? I fell in the woods carrying birch sap and really put my back out, what could be better than to start sparkling again? So, meat of any sort is completely off the menu ? for now.
Of course, referring back to the quote from Susan Campbell, there is no doubt I can, as she says, ?subsist?. Yet subsistence carries the implications of just getting by, of the bare necessities, of surviving, being alive, but alive only to a paltry kind of mere existence. Perhaps for a month such an existence ? given no other commitments, could prove to be a liberating and nature-engaged escape from the day-to-day grind of work related toil. However, for me those commitments do exist (they?re not all toil fortunately). No, I want to live fully, to be nothing less than a whole man, to transcend the everyday, to feel the struggle of the impossible and know that it can be surpassed. A month of wild food will be hard. I will learn that I?m sure. However, to really rise to the challenge I must embrace the whole year and its generous seasons. Only then will I know if it is possible to live by wild food alone.

The coming month will be a preliminary study for a wild food year ? beginning later this year. I will be writing a daily blog about how things are going over the coming month. If you are interested please return to this page which I will be updating every day.
Now, time to go for an invigorating walk in the glorious lightening, thunder and rain??..

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