Rob Greenfield is self-described as an adventurer, environmental activist, humanitarian, and a dude making a difference. He just completed Food Freedom, a year-long project to grow and forage all of his food. That’s an entire year with no grocery stores, restaurants or even a nibble from a friend’s pantry. Rob did this without land of his own, instead growing food in the front yards of people in his neighborhood of Audubon Park, while living in a 100 square foot tiny house. Hear Rob’s story at the Orlando Public Library on Wednesday, November 13, 6–7:30 p.m.
Rebecca Baichan: What made you decide to start your food freedom project?
Rob Greenfield: For the last six years, I have been immersing in projects to learn about the important issues of our time and to learn about the solutions. I believe that our current industrialized, globalized food system is one of the greatest problems of our time, with its contribution to global pollution, mass extinction of species and deforestation. I believe that we as individuals and communities should know where our food is coming from and take steps to produce our food in a manner that is in alignment with the world around us. My goal through this project is to deeply educate myself and at the same time inspire others to start their own journey to knowing where their food comes from, supporting local growers and farmers, and even growing a little bit of their own food.
RB: What is your favorite homegrown/foraged meal?
RG: Right now, everything with coconut in it. Coconuts are very abundant in Florida and highly overlooked. I love to make coconut milk from freshly foraged coconuts and use it to make delicious coconut curry with homegrown Seminole pumpkin, carrot, lemon grass, turmeric, ginger and whatever other greens and veggies I have in my garden at the moment.
RB: What foods do you miss the most? How do you overcome cravings?
RG: For the most part, I don’t miss any particular foods. I have grown and foraged over 150 different foods and this keeps my diet pretty diverse. I’m always learning and eating new amazing plants. I overcome cravings by eating some delicious foods whether it be a snack like banana ice-cream or dried mangos or a meal like a big bowl of sweet potatoes and greens. But in all honesty, I do miss olive oil in my life right now.
RB: What will be your first meal when you finish this project?
RG: Only time will tell. But my intentions are for it to be a 100% Florida grown and foraged meal, whether it comes from my own garden or my friends.
RB: What has been the biggest challenge of this project?
RG: The greatest challenge of this project is that it is extremely demanding. Every meal – for a year, that’s 1,095 meals — I am not only growing and foraging, but also cooking. I spend 40 plus hours most every week on food and sometimes as much as 80. It can get exhaustive and I really do want to give up sometimes, including this very morning. But I persist, because I know the challenge will be so worth it to complete.
RB: What have you learned from this journey?
RG: The amount of knowledge I have gained is unfathomable. I can’t say it’s as much as the entire plant section at the local library, but I can say that looking back to one and a half years ago, it’s amazing at how little I knew about growing and foraging food compared to today. I didn’t even know how much water and sun a carrot seed needed to turn into a carrot, and now I can produce 100% of my food from the salt to the oil, to the calories and spices. I now recognize edible plants on nearly every street I walk down.
RB: Do you have any tips or advice for people who would like to start growing and foraging their own food?
RG: One of my greatest suggestions is to seek local advice. Find a nearby community garden and talk to the gardeners there. Join a local plant club. Visit your local nursery or seed company. There’s no need to start alone, when there is a community around you. That community is strong here in Central Florida. I have made a resource guide that includes much of this information at robgreenfield.tv/grow.