Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles - What does squirrel taste like? Squirrel tastes like squirrel. (Rob laughs) (upbeat instrumental music) For one year, I only ate foods that I grew and foraged. One year without grocery stories or restaurants, nothing packaged or processed, nothing shipped long distances. Literally, everything I ate for the entire year came from my garden or that I harvested from nature. My name is Rob Greenfield. I'm an environmental activist who embarks on extreme adventures to bring attention to important environmental and social issues. Basically, I believe that our current global industrial food system is broken. Everywhere you look, it's causing severe destruction to people, to other species, and to the earth as a whole. And so I wanted to do something extreme. I've always had the question, would it be possible to step away from big ag, step away from the global industrial food system, and could I exist without grocery stories and restaurants and actually grow all my own food? I couldn't find people that had done it, so for me, the solution was to do it myself and see if it was possible. When I started, I didn't know how much sun does a carrot need? How much water do you put on your collards or your Swiss chard? I was just literally on the internet researching every plant and how to do it. Food didn't get bland because I ate over 300 species of food, I grew over 100 different foods, and I foraged over 200 different foods. That's almost a new species for every day of the entire year. I made my own flour by dehydrating cassava and yam. Then I could make my own tortillas and bread. I fermented a lot of foods and made things like sauerkraut and honey wine and ginger beer. I ate dozens and dozens of different meals throughout the year that were really varied. It really didn't get boring. I chose Florida because as someone who had minimal experience, I did want to be somewhere where I could grow food year round. It can be done in colder climates, but I wanted to choose an easier place since I was just a beginner. What I chose to do was not live on a farm, not live out in the countryside, because I wanted to impact people, I wanted people to see me growing my food, I wanted to interact with the community. When I arrived in Florida, one of the first things that I did is I connected with the local food growing movement. I went to the community garden. So I just really immersed in the community and got to know people, and I asked people in the community if they would like to have free food growing right in their yard rather than just grass, and the people lined up to have me turn their yard into a garden. I ended up having six front-yard gardens, and they were available for anyone to eat from. Quickly it went from grass to having really enough food for dozens or even hundreds of people to eat from. And they were basically community gardens. Anybody could walk in and eat the food. For the year, I lived in a tiny house that I built out of 99% second-hand materials. It's 10-feet by 10-feet, so very small. My arm span is six feet, so I span across most of it. Basically it was a bed, a desk with a chair, a freezer to store food, a couple of shelves to store a lot of food, and then under the bed, there was storage as well. Being in Florida, I was able to utilize outside as well. My kitchen was an outdoor kitchen, and that was powered by rain water, so my sink was just rain water for washing dishes and hands, and I also had an outdoor compost toilet where I would compost my poop and pee, and turn that into fertile soil rather than wasting water and shipping it off to be someone else's problem. That fertilizer is used on fruit trees, so not on your kale and stuff on the ground, but on fruit trees where the fruit is high above. And then lastly I had an outdoor shower as well, and the water from that was harvested from rain, and then the water would be used to water banana plants to grow bananas. I gave myself six months to prepare, but that ended up being ten months before I actually started it, and I started from scratch. I had to get seeds and soil and figure out the absolute basics. My basic strategy was to plant way more than I would need so that way I would have enough. That meant more work, but it ensured the success. I talked to the local gardeners and farmers, and I asked, "What grows so ridiculously well "that even if you barely know what you're doing, "it's not just going to survive, but it's actually going "to thrive?" I asked what has the fewest pests, what produces a huge amount of food, and what can handle neglect? And that is what I planted. Most of these were foods that I had never eaten before, you don't see at the grocery store, and a lot of them I didn't even know the name of. Things like chaya or moringa or katuk. There were dozens of plants that became my staple foods that are staples for people around the world, but that were pretty much unknown to me and most of the people I was around. A year is a pretty long time. Imagine taking any sort of diet and doing it for an entire year. Through the year, I had my ups and downs. At times, felt my absolute best, and then there was times that I was worried about my health. One of the most interesting times was just at the very beginning. It was just about a week and a half in, and I realized that my digestion was the best that I had felt it in my adult life. By the middle of the year, I found that I had a deficiency I thought in fat and protein. That's one of the hardest things to really get. For me this is really funny because I was plant-based fully for two years, and I didn't eat any meat. I was trying to grow plant-based protein. I was growing beans and peas that did really well, but I was trying to grow peanuts and sunflowers. And I was really excited to make my own peanut butter. Literally from soil to the jar of peanut butter. I was so excited for it. But the problem was the squirrels wanted my peanuts and they wanted my sunflowers. I grew, I put a lot of energy into it, and I almost, I barely ate just a few, because they would eat them long before they were even ready for me to eat them. So in permaculture there's a saying, and that's, "Turn your problem into your solution." The squirrels were my problem. They were eating my plant-based form of protein. So I ate the squirrels. (record scratches) In doing so, I got protein that I needed, and I took care of something that was causing me a hard time in my garden. I definitely had some controversy over that in the neighborhood, but for me, it's not about black and white. We look at our food on our plates, and because it's a grocery store or because it's a restaurant, we just trust it. We don't think about where it came from, the impact that it had on other people, other species, and on the land. You can look at what I'm doing is you see it direct. You see I ate a squirrel. But if you are getting food from a farm, even if it's vegan food, there's a good chance they're killing squirrels or rats or mice that are eating the food. So for me, I'm in the direct fire. You see these things that I'm doing, but the reality is that we're all doing this; we just don't see it. And so it makes it a very different thing.