Interview: Activist lives off food that he grows and forages for an entire year

October 9, 2019 by  
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Rob Greenfield is a self-described “adventurer, environmental activist, humanitarian and dude making a difference.” Since this Wisconsin native had an eco-epiphany at the age of 24, he’s dedicated himself to spreading a positive environmental message by accomplishing heroic, sustainable deeds. These include things like riding across the U.S. three times on a bamboo bicycle, diving into more than 2,000 dumpsters and traveling internationally with no money. Inhabitat caught up with this pro-humanity, anti-materialism activist to find out about his current foraging project. His answers have been edited for space. Inhabitat: Tell us a little bit about your life right now — where you live and what you do in a typical day. Greenfield: I currently live in Orlando, Florida. I’m spending two years there. My current project is to grow and forage 100 percent of my food for a year. So, no grocery stores, no restaurants. Not even a drink at a bar or going over to a friend’s potluck to eat food from there. Literally growing and foraging everything for an entire year. Related: Incredible edible landscape map shows you where to find free food It’s an extremely immersive project, where I’m diving deep into food and really understanding my connection to it. Largely removing myself from the globalized, industrialized food to explore the alternatives, ways of producing food that work with the environment instead of against it and showing those alternatives to people. My day-to-day right now is very food-oriented. Inhabitat: What are your regular daily activities right now? Greenfield: Well, it does vary a lot. Like today, for example, is a work day, so I’m on the computer and on the phone for much of the day. But I had mostly run out of food, so I had to delay my last call to go for a mile-and-a-half bike ride to go to an apple tree that I know about to go pick a bunch of apples. [Note: Greenfield was in Wisconsin visiting family and friends when we talked — hence the apple tree.] So my life is very much revolving around food this year. But with that being said, I still manage to do a lot of other things, and of course have a social life, and still of course talk and spread the message, because that’s the purpose. Some days are just morning to night going out and gathering food and then processing it, whether it’s fishing or going out and picking fruit and making applesauce and pear sauce, for example, or canning . Other days, when I’ve done really well, I’ve prepared lots of food, I get to be a little more leisurely, and do other work or just spend time with friends. Inhabitat: When did you start your foraging project, and when will it end? Greenfield: I started on November 11, 2018, so today is day 320, which means I have just 45 days left of the year [at the time of the interview]. So it is winding down. I’m in the home stretch, which is feeling great. I wouldn’t say I can let my guard down; I’ve still got to stay on top of things. But I could see a bar of chocolate in the near future. Inhabitat: Is dumpster diving allowed? Greenfield: No dumpster diving at all, because what I’m exploring for this year is living outside of the globalized, industrialized food system. Seeing if I can work with nature , work with the earth to produce my food. So dumpster diving, I’ve proved through my other projects in the past that I can live purely off the waste of our society, and really use that as a way to raise awareness about waste. This is taking it to another step. Now I can show that it’s possible in 2019 for us to actually grow and produce our food and improve our communities at the same time, and take power back from the big food corporations and put that power back into the hands of us, the everyday people. Inhabitat: So, what are some of the things you forage? Greenfield: So far this year, I’ve grown and foraged over 250 different species. I’ve probably foraged 30 or 40 different species of greens. Fruits . There’s many species of cherry: pin cherry, black cherry, sand cherry, just to name a few. Apples, pears, plums. Then, there’s all sorts of new plants that I’m learning. Aronia is a berry that I’ve been foraging over the last couple weeks in Wisconsin. In Florida, one of my favorite things to forage is wild yams. That is an invasive species , so it’s actually beneficial for me to harvest it, which is always nice to be harvesting in a way that actually improves the environment. The biggest one I’ve harvested so far weighed 157 pounds. I had a wheelbarrow and I wheelbarrowed it out chunks at a time to the car to bring it back to my place. Related: An explanation on wild yams I mostly chopped it up into cubes, like you cube up potatoes. Then I froze a lot of it. I make flour from it. I dehydrate it, and then blend the dehydrated chunks to make a powder, and that powder’s a yam flour. Then, I make bread with it. It’s actually a really nice bread. Well, it’s really nice for me. It’s not like a wheat bread or something like that that you’d buy at the store. But I make muffins and tortillas and things like that, and I make sourdough bread. It makes some pretty nice stuff. This project has really taught me to do a lot of things from scratch. Because if I want something, I have to figure out how to grow it or forage it and turn it into that thing that I’m wanting. It’s the opposite of that globalized food system, where we can get anything we want without really having to think about it. Inhabitat: What’s your living situation in Florida? Greenfield: Well in Orlando, I live in a 100-square-foot tiny house that I built out of about 99 percent secondhand materials with the help of a bunch of friends. I have an outdoor kitchen set up, a compost toilet, rainwater shower. I do have electricity there to run my food processor and dehydrator and things like that. But it’s a largely close-looped system, demonstrating how you can live in a more sustainable manner. Inhabitat: Do you have advice for anyone who wants to dumpster dive? Greenfield: Well, it’s pretty easy. You look at the front door. You walk past that, you walk around to the back, you look in the dumpster and you get your food from there instead. It really is not hard or complicated. The main thing is you just have to do it. You have to go to the dumpster and you have to look for the food. Then, what you do is you practice common sense. You should practice common sense wherever you’re getting your food from. So with dumpster diving, a lot of people have these preconceived notions about what’s in a dumpster and what it looks like. At a grocery store, it’s mostly food and is emptied fairly frequently. They’re actually a lot cleaner than people would expect. You just take out the good food. An easy way to start is, for example, bananas have a wrapper on them already. Oranges, also. Whereas strawberries and raspberries, they’re more delicate and more likely to get something spilled on them. But a banana, you can take the peel right off. There’s also packaged, processed food. If you get a bag of potato chips, that is still sealed, or even crackers where there’s a box on the outside and then there’s the crackers inside a plastic bag inside the box. You can start there, with those easy things. One note with dumpster diving is just to make sure that you always leave the place cleaner than you found it, and you’re courteous to everybody that you come across. [Greenfield reiterated that dumpster diving is not a part of his current project.] Inhabitat: Do you have any tips for others to live more sustainably? Greenfield: The good news is you don’t have to do these sort of huge projects that I do by any means. It’s all stuff we can adapt into our daily lives. A big one is to go local. Support local business. Try to get as many of your products produced locally rather than things from big corporate stores and stuff that’s shipped around the world, where you don’t know the people and the impact that it has had or the conditions that they are working in. Shop at the local farmer’s market and support local farmers. Eat more unprocessed foods. You can bring your own container and fill up at the bulk food section. Riding a bike more and driving a car less is a really great way to not only save a lot of money and reduce your impact, but also get good exercise. Most people are a lot happier on a bike than they are driving a car. Bikes make people smile. Related: 7 of the biggest eco-friendly and green living myths Eat your food. The average person wastes about 20 percent of all the food they purchase. Anything that can’t be eaten can be composted. There are hundreds of great changes that we can make. But those are some that are at the top of my list that generally make you happier, healthier and help you live in a way that’s more sustainable. Inhabitat: How can Inhabitat followers get involved with your work? Greenfield: Get involved in other things like community projects, such as the Community Fruit Trees project. That is a project where you can plant fruit trees that are publicly accessible to anyone in their community. Gardens for the People , which is where we build gardens for people that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it or build one on their own. The Free Seed Project is where we send out free seeds to help people start their own organic, healthy gardens. The mission is to get people living happier, healthier and more sustainable lives . We think food is a great place to start. These are all ways people can get involved, and they’d find information about those projects on my website. + Rob Greenfield Images via Rob Greenfield and Sierra Ford

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Interview: Activist lives off food that he grows and forages for an entire year

Old power station in Berlin is converted into off-grid arts center that runs on energy generated by woodchips

October 9, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

The former industrial town of Luckenwalde now has a beautiful new arts center that not only aims to bring a little vibrancy back to the German region, but a whole lot of sustainability. Artist Pablo Wendel just unveiled E-Werk , a defunct power station that he has turned into an innovative arts center that is projected to run on recycled wood chips rather than coal. Although an artist at heart, Wendel obviously has an admirable talent and passion for creating machinery that generates clean energy. Over the last five years, he has created numerous wind sculptures and mobile battery packs that can usurp energy from supply points. His patented Kunststrom (art electricity) system is what will be used to bring power to the local grid as the old building used to. This time, however, it will be powered by recycled wood chips. Related: Uber transforms 19th-century industrial buildings into hub for futuristic tech To create a system of clean energy for E-Werk, he developed a series of woodchip-burning machines that are compatible with the power station’s pre-existing mechanics. This means that the massive 107,000 square-foot interior has the potential to not only generate its own power, but could possibly become a functional power station that generates clean energy for the surrounding area. “At first, people were skeptical, but Kunststrom has moved far beyond an idea. We forget to talk about how much energy is needed to make art, how much energy museums use through lighting , cleaning, conservation and transport . They spend much more of their budget on this than they do on young artists. I’m offering art as a power supply,” the artists explains. Currently, the building’s eight studios have been already rented to local artists, who can make use of the welding kits, milling machines, lathes and drills. Wendel says that he hopes E-Werk is the first of many similar projects to help Luckenwalde regenerate its urban landscape through sustainable practices, “One day we hope E-Werk will power the whole of Luckenwalde as it used to.” + E-Werk Via Wall Paper Images via Kunststrom

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Old power station in Berlin is converted into off-grid arts center that runs on energy generated by woodchips

Incredible edible landscape map shows you where to find free food

February 25, 2016 by  
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Fruit is abundant if you know where to look. Falling Fruit , a massive collaborative mapping project, provides foragers with the tools they need to track down a nutritious snack. Beyond satisfying the hunger pangs of the present, the initiative provides individuals and communities with a resource through which they can build resilience in the long term. Through the contributions of people all over the world, Falling Fruit is steadily building a map that will guide the hungry towards free food that may otherwise have gone to waste. Read the rest of Incredible edible landscape map shows you where to find free food

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3 edible mushrooms that are easy to find – and how to avoid the poisonous ones

February 25, 2016 by  
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There’s no better way to enjoy rainy weather than to break out your Wellies and go mushroom-hunting in the forest. Mushrooms are a healthy addition to your diet and are loaded with important vitamins and minerals that are hard to find in plant food such as Vitamin D, B Vitamins, Selenium, Potassium, Copper and Beta-Glucans , which are important for your immune system . Of course you can find common button mushrooms, cremini and portobello (which are all just different sizes/colors of the same species) in your local supermarket, and you can grow your own oyster mushrooms , but it’s a lot more fun to forage for your own exotic fungi! Many delicious species such as chanterelles , cauliflower mushrooms , truffles and porcini can only be found through foraging, since they are not grown commercially. Some people are scared of the idea of mushroom foraging, since there are deadly mushrooms that can kill you with one bite. But don’t fear – there are several types of mushrooms that are perfect for beginner foragers since they’re unique and easy-to-identify, with few or no poisonous look-alikes. Read on to discover three types of easy-to-identify mushrooms for beginner foragers. Read the rest of 3 edible mushrooms that are easy to find – and how to avoid the poisonous ones

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3 edible mushrooms that are easy to find – and how to avoid the poisonous ones

6 delicious plants you can forage in your local urban park — VIDEO

October 8, 2015 by  
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Many of us are completely unaware of the delicious edible plants that surround us, especially in urban environments, but did you know that there are a multitude of tasty plant species right in your own neighborhood park ? No matter where you live, foraging is a free, fun culinary activity which requires only a keen eye, some plastic bags and a sense of adventure! It’s easier than one might think to uncover nutritious natural edibles, from medicinal herbs , to edible flowers , brain-boosting nuts and exotic salads . We followed NYC’s famed foraging experts Wildman Steve Brill and his daughter Violet Brill to discover six abundant and delicious plants nestled within the urban forestry of Prospect Park, right in the heart of Brooklyn, New York. Watch the video and read on to learn how to identify these forageable plants, from field garlic and ginkgo biloba to black walnuts and sassafras. Some of them could even be growing in your own backyard! You can learn more about foraging for these delectable plants (and many more) with Wildman Steve Brill’s new Master Foraging App , now available for iPhone, iPad, and Android systems. Read the rest of 6 delicious plants you can forage in your local urban park — VIDEO

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Seed searchers seek super sunflowers for key to climate change resilience

October 8, 2015 by  
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Implementing solutions to climate change will require big ideas and an even bigger mobilization of resources, but high technology doesn’t always have the answers. Plant physiologist Laura Marek and research botanical Gerald Seiler are seed searchers who have spent the past 11 years searching for sunflowers that, in their ability to quickly adapt to environmental changes, may hold the key to boosting resilience against climate change. Read the rest of Seed searchers seek super sunflowers for key to climate change resilience

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8 common weeds you probably never thought you could eat

July 28, 2015 by  
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Researchers are introducing non-native insects in a desperate attempt to battle Japanese knotweed

June 17, 2015 by  
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If you live in the US or the UK, you are probably familiar with the scourge of Japanese knotweed, even if you don’t know it. Japanese knotweed is one of the world’s most invasive plants and has colonized many disturbed and undisturbed ecosystems in Massachusetts and at least 38 other states. It has no predators in North America or Europe and is notoriously difficult to remove by force. As the armies of knotweed march ever forward, scientists in the UK are experimenting with a dramatic method of weed-killing: the introduction of a non-native, knotweed-loving insect to munch the stalks down to size.   Read the rest of Researchers are introducing non-native insects in a desperate attempt to battle Japanese knotweed Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Aphalara itadori , beneficial insects , biological control , biological solutions , controlling japanese knotweed , ecosystem restoration , Fallopia japonica , Frederick Law Olmstead , green pest control , green weed control , invasive plants , invasive species , Japanese Knotweed , knotweed , New England invasives , non-native insects , non-native plants , pest control , psyllid , weed control , weeds

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Researchers are introducing non-native insects in a desperate attempt to battle Japanese knotweed

We’re giving away a queen-sized organic cotton mattress worth $679!

June 17, 2015 by  
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We spend one third of our lifetime in bed, so a natural sleep surface is one of the most important investments you can make. Why? Conventional mattresses are chock full of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are extremely hazardous to our health including flame retardants linked allergies, asthma, hormone disruption, endocrine problems and cancer. Fortunately, there are now many natural mattress alternatives including organic cotton, wool and natural latex. And now, thanks to the good folks at My Green Mattress , one lucky Inhabitat reader will have the chance to win their very own all-natural, non-toxic mattress. We’re giving away a brand new medium-firm Queen-Sized Pure Echo Mattress valued at $679! Plus, every Inhabitat reader will receive an exclusive $75 off any mattress using PROMO CODE: Inhabitat$75 . Read on to learn how you can enter to win the best sleep of your life. HOW TO ENTER: 1. SIGN UP FOR THE GREEN MATTRESS NEWSLETTER > (Note: Scroll down to the bottom of the page) 2. SIGN UP FOR THE INHABITAT NEWSLETTER > We’ll be announcing the winners in our weekly newsletter , so if you want to find out who won, you’ll need to receive it! 3. LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW telling us what you like most about the Pure Echo Mattress and why you need a healthier, green mattress. The deadline for this giveaway is Wednesday, July 1st at 11:59PM EST . We’ll pick the comments we like best and announce the winners in our newsletter, so make sure you’re signed up ! Read the rest of We’re giving away a queen-sized organic cotton mattress worth $679! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: all natural mattress , American mattress company , certified organic cotton mattress , Contests , eco-friendly giveaways , eco-friendly mattress , eco-giveaway , giveaway , green giveaways , green mattress , Health , healthy mattress , My Green Mattress , natural mattress , non-toxic mattress , organic mattress , Pure Echo Mattress , Tim Masters , US mattress company , wool mattress

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We’re giving away a queen-sized organic cotton mattress worth $679!

Gorgeous forest home in Sweden makes living deliberately stylish

June 17, 2015 by  
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