Eating from the Land

Ann Kobsa / Kapoho, Hawai’i

I have attempted a complete accounting of my subsistence.  I invite suggestions on improvements!  I focus on foods that are adapted to our climate, therefore they require minimal tending, and I prefer perennial and self-propagating foods. We are truly blessed to have access to food plants from all over the earth, and a year-round growing season.

Foods I Grow

(those consumed in greatest quantities toward top):

coconut
egg (chicken)
avocado
banana (cooking + raw types)
ulu
chayote/pipinola
pumpkin
air potato
papaya
cassava
soursop
citrus (many types)
eggplant
okinawan spinach
taro
pigeon pea
jackfruit
jaboticaba
pineapple
liliko’i (several types )
peach palm
hibiscus greens
durian
rollinea
mango
bullock’s heart
white guava
chico sapote
abiu
cacao
sisoo spinach
rooster
katuk
surinam cherry
warabi
sweet potato (leaves)
mustard
chaya
honey
Mamea americana
long bean
mamey sapote
black sapote
heart of palm (several species)
atemoya
moringa
mulberry
Chinese cabbage
tree tomato
culantro
garlic chives
peppers (sweet,  hot, and seasoning)
naranjilla
champadek
tomato
mangosteen
ginger
peanut butter fruit
arugula
olena/turmeric
cloves
curry leaf
vanilla
lychee
galangal
lemon grass
allspice
multiplier onion
coffee
cinnamon
mint
oregano
rosemary
wild lime
cardamom
poha berry
chives
nutmeg
okra
lima bean
black pepper
Mysore raspberry
bay leaves
Vietnamese cilantro
yacon
longevity spinach

Foods I Ferment

fruit ciders
ginger/vanilla ale
vinegar
mead/melomel

Wild Foods

sea water (salt)
pig
mushrooms
fennel (CA)

Foods I Trade For Locally (and have planted)

mac nuts
pili nuts

Foods I Buy

mustard seed
coriander seed
cumin seed
hing/asafoetida

 

“The gifts of nature’s cycles are far more generous than man’s cycles of boom and bust.”
–can’t remember who

Ours is a land of abundance.  The main obstacle to eating from the land that I see for most people is attachment to certain foods. For me this was relatively easy to give up, as I get so much satisfaction from eating what I grow.  I use lard for cooking oil.  Coconut cream made by putting coconut meat through a manual wheat grass juicer adds richness to any food. Grated, steamed ulu can be used like pasta or rice.  Avocado, vinegar and fresh herbs are the only salad dressing I need.  I boil seawater down to half its original volume and squirt it on food as a source of salt.  My cooking fuels are weed trees and sunshine.  I have solar-powered refrigeration so, to save time, I make a large amount of food and have leftovers for about a week.

I strive for self-reliance, which for me means providing for myself to the greatest extent possible.  It is important to me that I do this without outside inputs.   I try to make use of the natural cycles of nutrients by carefully recycling everything and not contributing to degrading another place by importing amendments.  It is important to me that farming be sustainable in the long term, which means striving for no losses (this may be impossible).  I believe that if we lose any nutrients that cannot be gotten from the air our systems will erode over time and collapse will occur.  This may be as inevitable as the eventual extinction of every species.

Carbon that has been sequestered deep in the earth should stay there.  Fossilized life (oil, coal) helps to stabilize our climate.  Climate destabilization may force us to give up burning fossil fuels even before we run out.  My homestead uses no fossil fuels.

It helps to find positive motivation for actions, rather than negative.  For instance, when I scythe my grass I am not doing it for grass removal as much as to harvest mulch for my food plants.  This idea sprouted from the permaculture principle of making a problem into a solution.

An essential aspect of sustainability for me is that I try to make a positive contribution to nature to balance the negative impacts of my life.  I believe that no matter how careful a farmer I am, my farm is not as good as a natural system.   I also feel a strong love connection with nature and my life is enriched by trying to help preserve Hawai’i’s natural biodiversity.  I do this on public land and I have committed to setting aside ¾ of “my” land for native forest.  I am working to restore some of the biodiversity that has already been lost there, by killing invasive species, primarily strawberry guava, and by propagating and planting rare native plants.  Plenty of human cultures have practiced reasonably good farming techniques, but how many have been good stewards of the wild places?  In some situations, perhaps the best we can do is stay out!  I’ve heard that ancient Hawaiians asked permission from Akua to enter the forest.  We would be wise to practice that kind of reverence.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
–Rachel Carson