Recently, I was interview by a journalist from the Czech Republic who saw my appearance on the National Geographic’s “Doomsday Preppers” show. He wanted to learn about some of the practical skills that I teach to prepare individuals for emergencies and disasters, such as the identification of wild foods, making fire, and methods of being more self-reliant in the home. I presented all these skills as positive ways to enhance one’s daily life and to improve one’s survival quotient without a focus on fear or panic.
As we were finishing, he asked me something to the effect of “What was your worst and most painful experience?” I had to think a minute, and I recalled why I got interested in survival skills in the first place.
The very beginning of my studies involved agriculture (all my mother’s brothers were farmers), and the claim that the U.S. feeds the world. I can recall the various frightened predictions of famine in the U.S. in the 1970s, based upon the fact that way we deal with land management was worse in the 1970s than it was in the 1930s which led to the Dust Bowl.
I began to study botany and wild foods partly because I was worried about the larger conditions which might impact myself and my family. This dovetailed well with my interest in Native American living skills, where the average person knew all the uses of every plant that grew in your area. The idea of rekindling those bygone skills appealed to me. If I had to, I wanted to be able to find my food, medicine, tools, weapons, etc., from what nature has provided.
I told the reporter, Michal Kubal of Ceska Televize, that I have gone into the mountains many times with no food, and enjoyed doing it. But, I told Kubal, my primary goal has been to avoid pain and discomfort and untimely death in the first place. I’ve enjoyed traveling into the wilderness and knowing that I could take care of myself. But my motivating interest was the survival of my society, and my country, and the sustainability of the systems that we all depend upon.
Thus, any knowledge of self-reliance and survival builds strength into the community. Individuals who are knowledgeable and trained in survival tend not to have a victim mentality and tend to be a part of the solution. That has been my goal, and what I attempt to teach.
The various uses of wild foods that I collected and ate while on a short walk with Michal Kubal were the very foods I’d eat if there were no stores to go to, for whatever reason. My simple salad consisted of plants that were then in season: wild radish leaves, mustard flowers, lambs quarters, curly dock leaves and some amaranth leaves. All these plants would make a delicious stew if simmered slowly in a miso broth.
I also showed the reporter the many hand-operated tools that would allow life to continue if there was no electricity. In fact, the kitchen tools I showed Kubal were taken from my own kitchen, things like hand-operated can opener, juicer, coffee grinder, grater, etc. Though I don’t have anything against good electrical kitchen appliance, I have experienced enough black-outs to know that the hand-tools will never go out of style.
We also looked at some of the very simple and inexpensive tools that are commonly available to provide electricity from the sun, which were lamps, radios, battery chargers, etc.I don’t know when my segment on Czech Television will air, but I will post it on my website if possible. My short interview reminded me that these skills are direly needed in a society that is always growing larger, in which we are increasingly dependent on others for everything. The simple solutions to any disruptions to our society are the focus of my classes, the schedule of which you can see at www.ChristopherNyerges.com