The Hunter-Gatherer is a marginalised figure. A being that survives entirely by foraging and hunting, exists by feeding off of the goodwill of nature’s bounty, not by altering its course. It sounds prehistoric and with only a few practising societies identifiable today arguably is but the counter argument is strong. The Hunter-Gatherer is the oldest and, if time counts for anything, most rational lifestyle our upright legs have strutted.
It was how we first operated and, although sparingly, is still practised today so boasts a two million year success. Yes farming brushed it aside, we herded cattle and grew crops, but the social structure of the Hunter-Gatherer nurtured a harmony, a reliance on nature and connection with our food that we have most certainly lost, seemingly in favour of a furrowed line, a packed Battery and ignorance of seasons. Screech… Stop! Have we really favoured factory farming? That poor bird! Did we really raise our hand and vote for such sullied conditions? Disturbingly less of a heart twang is heard for the food miles attached to your newly defrosted, fresh from an artic lorry Christmas mango but hey do we really care? The truth is with every cheap cut of meat, exotic fruit and ready meal bought (a generalisation not an exacting fact) we ‘sort of’ admit to not caring and ‘in a manner’ have voted for factory farming. We have ‘kind of’ become more barbaric than any notion of a Hunter-Gatherer. We eat without care, only raising our head occasionally to tune in on the latest trend or dietary concern. We are almost entirely losing all physical engagement with what we are eating. It comes wrapped and we follow the instructions. Arrrgh… Slam that foot down, pull that break, let’s get on with redefining the Hunter-Gatherer and stop this savagery and consider and engage with what we eat. No longer allow ourselves to be bullied into buying a Popsicle then the next day with a sudden about turn surrender all sugary delights… Not to mention carbs! Let’s slap back the zealous hands of the food industry, let’s deny our cravings for this, that and the other and prepare our own meals.
How? How do we redefine the age old practice and become a Hunter-Gatherer of new? Good question…. We cannot be expected to forage for our every leaf and scouring the countryside hunting for meat would only end with hands cuffed and person detained. But we can take control of what we eat. We can shop in those ‘special places’ that stock their shelves with ‘special ingredients.’ We can read labels, source and stock our fridges with wholesome produce and frequent eateries that practise the same. Guaranteed your purse may grow lighter but with guile, a balance will be struck. Meat may have to play more of a cameo role leaving the vegetable to entertain the evening table, but we would once again align ourselves a little better with nature. We are not going to be altogether unrealistic and protest against intensive cropping, or fail to recognise the demand for meat and resulting factory farming. We have to acknowledge our ever growing population and understand that lowering food production would almost certainly result in starving nations. We have to recognise the farmers that feed this world, salute them, let a ripple of applause reward their labours but at the same time consult our own vanity mirror. Stare back at that reflection and ask the question… Do you eat how you aspire to eat? What would you tell Trisha on national TV? What are you shouting about on Facebook? Or have you taken a back seat and been rallied along with the easy grabs, the cheap meats, the…
The cupboard door quietly closes, hiding away every last modern day cheat to the making of that quick meal. The fridge is bolted locked, stowing away that turned broccoli that never found a home. Mmmm… We are the master of our gut, we have a choice and to hunt the shops and gather with deliberation redefines an attitude that parodies our early roots. The modern day Hunter-Gatherer could be that of a conscious shopper, a considered consumer and an avid cook.