TV’s Mr Bushcraft is once again stepping out of the screen and taking himself on a lengthy, delayed-from-2021 UK tour, including dates in Aberystwyth and Brecon in its closing stages. It’s titled We Are Nature and that’s what he and Carl Marsh spoke about, sort of.
People often think of survivalists, explorers, and other types who do what you do as being primarily ex-military. In fact, I’ve always found that the better-skilled ones are non-military. As someone from that background, it begrudges me to say so… or even think it!
I’ve worked a lot with the military, and as you and I know, what the public thinks and the military think are two different things. The military understands what their weaknesses are. The weakness with those in [Army] survival is that these people are in the job for two years, and then they move on: you can barely begin to learn the subject.
But that’s why they bring people in like me to help them; that’s been a joy. We all keep quiet so that they just get on with it. I’ve worked a lot with the Forces, and I don’t really talk a lot about it, but it is a real privilege to do so. I have the highest regard for them and their abilities.
Many people have been (re)discovering nature over the last two years mainly due to having to stick to local areas, and I know that eating off the land has become quite popular, and so has veganism. So, when you are teaching bushcraft, how do you approach the subject of not eating meat, if at all?
Well, it’s a fad, isn’t it? And the powers of a fad are that people have forgotten how to cook meat, or can’t be bothered to, or they’re living alone, and they find it’s too much hassle to try and cook meat in small quantities. Because quite frankly, very few supermarkets are tailored for the solo cook. So, it can be all of those things. But, obviously, there are greater environmental concerns that confuse the issue. I’ve no axe to grind, people should eat whatever they want to eat. It doesn’t bother me in the least.
I’ve spoken to quite a few practising doctors, and TV diet expert Michael Mosley and they all say the same thing: you’ve always got to have meat.
When you look in the mirror and look at your teeth, you can see that we are all omnivores. The clue is there. Indeed, if you’re trying to live off the land, you are going to struggle if you’re not eating meat.
There will be people out there who are zealots who will disagree with me, but they never put it to the test because they will fail. In really cold weather, it’s hard to find enough vegetables to eat and stay warm. It’s not like at home where you’ve got access to supermarkets.
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Yet people still think foraging is the way to go.
Foraging has become a big thing. And I’m a little worried that people think that food is for free. There is a great book, by Richard Mabey, and that’s called Food For Free… but nothing in nature is free. Working with Native American people, you quickly realise they’re very careful with resources, and how they use them so that they don’t overexploit them. There’s always a cost.
words CARL MARSH
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