simple living

A Year of Autonomous Eating - Rob Greenfield

Photo: Rob Greenfield via

Photo: Rob Greenfield via

People have a hard time wrapping their head around the idea of growing and foraging 100 percent of my food…There are zero exceptions: my salt; my oil; no grocery stores; no restaurants; no taking a nibble at a party; no gifts of food from others; no going to someone else’s garden and eating from their garden; literally growing and foraging 100 percent of the food.
— Rob Greenfield

This week’s guest is adventurer and environmental activist Rob Greenfield, whose societal-boundary-pushing projects have ranged from biking across the United States on a bamboo bicycle for sustainability (three times); to dumpster diving in thousands of grocery store dumpsters to raise awareness about food waste and hunger; to wearing 30 days’ of trash to create a visual of how much trash one American creates. Here, we focus on Rob’s latest extreme endeavor: Growing and foraging 100 percent of his food for One. Entire. Year.

From his 100-square-foot tiny home in Orlando, Florida (hand-built from 99 percent salvaged materials, natch), Rob shares the eating hows and whats of his aptly named Food Freedom project (think harvested salt and golf-course-foraged giant yams; oh, he also grows his own toilet paper). But with no shortage of self-reflection, Rob also digs deeper: into his own impoverished upbringing, the unintended consequences of living with no car or bank account or bills, and finding his true purpose in a life both inside and outside industrial capitalist society. 

Some of what we talk about:

  • What’s behind all the 1s: The launch of Food Freedom on 11/11 and Rob’s 111 possessions

  • The plan to grow and forage 100 percent of his food for one year; building his 100-square-foot tiny house in Orlando (and why Orlando?)

  • Staple crops, salt from scratch and the 160-pound yam 

  • How to make coconut oil; North America’s yerba mate

  • The 11 months of prep that went into the project 

  • Rob’s philosophy on foraging and pesticides

  • A sampling of the 300-500 foods Rob will be eating for the next 12 months 

  • Taking inspiration from subsistence cultures  

  • The paradox of Rob’s impoverished childhood: “We were consumers. My mom was a consumer; I was a consumer.” 

  • His awakening to “not living a delusional life”

  • What it’s like to live with no credit cards, no bank account, no driver’s license, no car, no bills and no taxes 

  • Consumerism and mortality 

  • Rob’s vision for the future 

You can follow Rob’s year of Food Freedom on his website, along with on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.

Resources from the show:

Orlando Permaculture
Berkey water filter
Rob’s post: On Health Insurance, Age and Death
Rob’s post: My Net Worth Is
Rob’s TED talk: Be the Change in a Messed Up World

Extreme Simplicity - Christopher Nyerges

Christopher Nyerges Uncivilize Podcast .jpg
Some people think I’m teaching for the to get by. You probably could, if you take these classes. But I’m hoping we won’t have an apocalypse. If we change our behavior, and [learn how to] use less and work together better, we won’t have apocalypses.
— Christopher Nyerges

This week, I step away from my Skype interview setup to head out into the urban wild with Los Angeles-based survivalist (and National Geographic Doomsday Preppers alum) Christopher Nyerges, who has taught wild food foraging, wilderness skills, and ecology awareness to nature-starved urbanites for the past five decades. Christopher was the editor of the former Wilderness Way magazine, and is also a prolific writer, having authored thousands of articles and more than 20 books on the skills of self-reliance, including How to Survive Anywhere, Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants, Foraging California, and Extreme Simplicity: Homesteading in the City.

In many ways, that latter title could serve as the theme of his life's work, as I learned in this forthright conversation with Christopher about our societal obsession with money, his School of Self-Reliance, and what’s driven him to live a (some might say, though I wouldn’t) radically spartan, even off-grid existence in a city where materialism seems to know no bounds. I also got a literal taste of Christopher’s vast wild food knowledge, thanks to the accompanying edible plant walk he took me on in Pasadena’s Hahamongna Watershed Park

Here’s the breakdown of the show:

  • My edible wild plant walk with Christopher, and how to avoid poisonous plants

  • His experience being homeless and living as a squatter in LA

  • Christopher’s wilderness/survival classes

  • “Food was sacred”: Growing up not wasting anything in a family of six kids

  • Why Christopher chose the path of minimalism

  • Writing Extreme Simplicity and living off-grid for 20 years in the Highland Park neighborhood of LA

  • Modern-world clutter versus owning things that have purpose

  • Christopher’s thoughts on the apocalypse

  • Bukowski and death: “[My] focus on death isn’t about death; it’s about life”

  • The four illusions of money

  • What we can learn from tribal peoples about functioning as a communal society

  • Christopher’s thoughts on the future of cities

You can learn more about Christopher’s classes, special events and writings on The School of Self-Reliance website as well as on Facebook. See links to a few of his most popular books, below!

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan. Want to chime in on this episode or have an idea for a future show? Connect with me via my Instagram page, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

A few of Christopher's books: