subsistence 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

Survivalists on Surviving a Natural Disaster - Carmen and Matt Corradino

You bring up the point of climate change and more expected hurricanes…but where could we possibly escape that? If the climate is changing and the earth is changing at the rate that we expect it to be changing, there’s nowhere that I could feel completely safe. So, I see it as: the survival training that we’ve done, the survival training that we teach, is our insurance policy.
— Matt Corradino

Today’s episode reads like it was lifted off the pages of a Hollywood screenplay: two renown survivalists find themselves in an all-too-real survival experience, after a natural disaster decimates their tropical island home. Yet that has been the past five months of reality for my guests Carmen and Matt Corradino, husband-and-wife survival skills instructors who live on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where they have been dealing with the devastating aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. The category 5 storms, mere weeks apart in a slew of powerful storms churned up in the Atlantic this past fall, were two of the most intense hurricanes in recorded history

Though there may have been no one better prepared for such a “force of nature,” as Matt referred to the storms. Together, he and Carmen have nearly three decades of survival skills experience, including a five-year stint living in a primitive shelter while teaching at survivalist Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. And for the past decade, the two have carved out a subsistence lifestyle in the tropical forests of St. Croix (now with their 3-year-old daughter Ilee), where they own Mount Victory Camp eco lodge and teach primitive and survival skills by way of their school, Caribbean Earth Skills

Hear from Carmen and Matt as they not only share survival lessons learned from the hurricanes, but the paths that led them to their way of life, and the contentment they've found in an existence deeply immersed in the natural world—even in the face of natural disaster.

Here’s the rundown of the show:

  • The aftermath of Hurricane Maria

  • Carmen and Matt’s homeschool group, and teaching survival classes post-hurricane

  • The psychological impact of the disaster

  • Survival skills and “experience” versus their now real survival experience

  • Mount Victory Camp before the hurricane, and their subsistence lifestyle in the tropics

  • Contentment in “poverty”

  • Carmen and Matt’s childhoods, and how they came to the world of ancient skills

  • Living and teaching in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey with Tom Brown, Jr.

  • Why they moved to St. Croix and following your inner vision

  • How you can help

  • Climate change, more hurricanes and their plan for the future

  • Carmen and Matt’s advice on how to be prepared for disasters (especially in urban areas)

  • Carmen and Matt’s advice for getting into their way of life

Want to help Carmen and Matt in their rebuilding efforts? Contribute to their GoFundMe campaign. Learn more about their eco lodge (and plan a trip!) on the Mount Victory Camp website and check out their workshops and courses at Caribbean Earth Skills. Carmen and Matt also have a YouTube page and post regularly on Facebook: @MountVictoryCamp.

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!