Systems Level Critical Thinking

We often hear about critical thinking being scarce in our society. It must be true on some level, since colleges offer courses on the subject. Somehow, people manage to go through twelve years of education in government schools without mastering the skill. This seems shocking since you have to have some level of critical thinking just to cross the street! There is a growing sense among many of us that the skill of critical thinking is in decline. Pessimistic prognosticators in alternative media foresee certain doom in our future due to a lack of this skill. Just watch the movie Idiocracy if you want an example.

While I won’t argue against the idea that critical thinking is in decline, I am not here to point out that idea or analyze possible reasons.  I will say that I believe specialization has been contributing to this decline for a very long time. There are many causes. Take a close look at any you can identify, and I bet you can trace it back to the domestication and pacification of humans all those millennia ago. What we really need to focus on is reversing the decline in thinking skills on an individual level. That’s why I advocate for systems level critical thinking.

Let me begin by saying that I am borrowing a lot of these ideas from the design science of Permaculture. Specifically, we are interested in the principles of function stacking and whole systems design. We need to look at our environment as a managed system we interact with. After all Balok did.

We are often taught to think of our ancestors like Balok as primitives struggling to make a life for themselves through endless toil and 16 hour days of back-breaking labor. Supposedly they lived short, miserable lives. While that might have been true of our recent ancestors who were enslaved by agriculture, anthropological evidence indicates life was quite the opposite for our hunter-gatherer kin. We can even look at modern tribes living free today and see superior health and a higher quality of life. Instead of constant toil, we were designed to work with nature a few hours a day and enjoy leisure time with those close to us.  Our fictitious character Balok is the perfect example of this. He didn’t plow fields or sow a single crop into them only creating one yield. He didn’t toil and he didn’t simply subsist. Balok THRIVED by using systems level thinking to take on the role of keystone species in his environment. Balok could identify dozens of edible and medicinal plant species in the forest or savanna. Many of them he actively managed by helping to propagate. He could hunt, fish, and might have even raised livestock.

Balok observed and interacted with his environment on a daily basis until he was able to manipulate the system to produce positive outcomes. One day he saw a certain herb growing greener in a spot he had kept his chickens the last month. Without understanding the science behind an NPK ratio, he understood the cause and effect relationship. Balok began using his chickens to clear large areas on the edge of the forest down to bare dirt. As he moved them across the forest perimeter, he followed the cage with a mix of seeds that would benefit him later on. Instead of the usual scrub brushes that normally advanced the forest in this area, Balok had created conditions ideal to grow food for himself on the forest edge. The abundance we can achieve by working with natural systems is amazing. We only have to understand that it is a system of interdependent parts. We have to THINK about these parts and find a way to benefit from natural interactions in our environment. Balok intrinsically understood this. Instead of just getting eggs and meat from his chickens,  he was also able to create fruit, nut, shade, and increased game animal yields by growing a forest in a manner that suited him. He was a part of nature, not an elite bunch of overlords excluded from natural systems as we tend to believe of ourselves today. Over time, he was able to design a forest system that provided for all his needs.

Most of us aren’t ready to live like Balok. Many of us couldn’t identify a single edible plant in our local woods. We might die trying to find out which ones were safe without the proper education. So how do we start thinking on a systems level like our ancestors did? We can certainly learn more about wildcrafting food, but the easier way to get started is to take a moment of introspection and examine your daily life. Find areas you can improve with function stacking. Thinking on a systems level isn’t just for regenerative agriculture systems. We can use this principle to improve all aspects of our lives from business and finance to gardening and home security. Speaking of gardening and home security, you can plant rosa rugosa under your windows. The hardy roses will provide hips that are high in Vitamin C and can be used to make herbal tea. The thorns will help deter break-ins. Planted them next to a south facing wall will help shade your home and contribute to energy savings. Planting on the northern side might provide a windbreak against cool arctic air. This is a perfect example of function stacking: getting multiple yields out of one product.

So, our challenge today is to return our minds to a state where we can look at a problem and analyze the whole system to find a solution. that provides multiple benefits  We need to be able to see relationships in systems and produce solutions that don’t just address the problem but improve other parts of the system as a side-effect. Every time we expend energy it should return multiple yields back to us over a long period of time. A perfect example of this would be content marketing. Like creating a food forest, you input a large amount of labor up front. If you are successful and grow an audience, you can see great success with little effort later on. At least I hope that’s how it works out with Rewilding Blog! In a similar manner, Balok put forth a lot of effort up front to kick off a massive change in his local ecosystem. His great grandchildren were literally enjoying the fruits of his labor decades after his death. See patterns and observe interactions. Be like Balok!  Rewild Yourself!






Recipe: $21 for 5-gallons of red wine in 10 minutes

What does wine have to do with rewilding you ask? Well let’s ignore the fact that ancient man discovered wild yeast and fermentation as a means of preserving things millennia ago. Let’s focus on two things: time and money. I’ve argued in the past that time is the main thing holding us back from rewilding. Let’s also consider money for a moment. If you are already spending money buying alcohol in your grocery budget, this will save you a lot of it over time. How much you ask? Let’s run the numbers:

First we need to convert from liters to gallons. This recipe creates about 5 gallons of wine. There are 3.78541 liters in a gallon, so we are making 18.92 liters of wine. Assuming this recipe I am sharing with you totally sucks and compares to cheap wine at about $6 a bottle, you have made $113.56 worth of wine. Let’s hope you like this better than a cheap wine. I do! The ingredients in this recipe will cost you about $21 total. How is this possible you ask? One word, GOVERNMENT.

Remember those people whose ideology and behavior descended from the feudal lords and petty kings who enslaved our hunter-gatherer ancestors? Yea, those guys. Liquor is considered a sin to some, so government sees it as an easy target for their taxation schemes. The cost to produce alcohol is stupid cheap when you take out the sin tax. You can legally avoid this taxation system by making your own wine here in the US. If you’re outside the US, check to make sure it is legal to make homebrew. If you’re good to go, you should switch all your alcohol consumption to homebrew. Doing so starves the systems used to keep us domesticated by denying them tax revenue. It also saves you money and gives you more control over what you drink. You can use this recipe to get you started, but you will soon want to branch off and create your own recipes.

DISCLAIMER: If you are a homebrewer, this is probably going to bother you a bit. I am keeping everything simple to make a 10 minute wine. Steps are skipped and ingredients are not optimal. I KNOW! The finished product is still good, and it only takes 10 minutes.



  • 6 bottles of grape juice from Costco (juice must contain no preservatives except for citric acid)
  • 1 packet of Pasteur Blanc wine yeast which you can get here for 80 cents when you buy 10
  • 2 cups white sugar

Materials Needed:

Total cost for materials – $77.46

Yea, that’s less than the money you would save on your first batch!


You can sanitize your equipment with a product like Star San, but this is 10 minute wine, and I have never had any problems with wild yeast somehow overcoming the billions of Pasteur Blanc cultivated yeast we’re pitching. It just doesn’t seem to matter as much as we think it would. I just rinse everything in warm water. The juice comes pasteurized, so no need to heat if it is unopened. Again, we are going for fast, easy, and pretty darn good. You won’t be making a $200 bottle of wine. What you will make is something you could enjoy with dinner after work one Thursday.


  • Rinse bucket with hot water
  • add 2 cups sugar to 2 cups water and heat on stove to dissolve sugar
  • Once sugar is dissolved, dump three containers of grape juice into bucket, then dump half the sugar water and the remaining three jugs of juice
  • In a separate, clean container mix the remaining sugar water with an equal part filtered water. When the water is less than 100 degrees, Pitch the dry yeast in and stir well with an egg beater
  • Add yeast to bucket 10 minutes later and cover with lid. Attach airlock
  • Store in a room temperature environment for three weeks
  • Use your racking cane to transfer to glass carboy, being careful not to pick up any sediment from the bottom
  • Attach bung and airlock to carboy
  • Allow to sit and age in glass carboy for one month
  • Rack off any sediment and bottle

There you have it! Expect to spend about 10-20 minutes total getting your fermentation started. Racking will take about the same time, but bottling might take 30-45 minutes. For $21 you will get $113+ worth of wine that took you a little over an hour to produce. For an easy variation on this, double the sugar. You will get a higher percentage of alcohol in your finished product. Please comment and let me know what you think. Also feel free to share your own recipes!


Specialization: A Double Edged Sword

It’s a blessing and a curse. The miracle of specialization increased our productivity exponentially. Adam Smith‘s discoveries are responsible for helping to lifting billions out of poverty. Specialization is truly a miracle, and I am not suggesting that we return to the days before the assembly line. I will argue that specialization brings with it several problems.

Specialization leads to a populace ill-equipped to solve problems and think creatively. Doing the same task or related tasks over and over does not help our problem solving skills. I worked a factory job once for about three months. I made plastic interior car parts like dashes and floor runners. Every day we would stand in front of one machine shaving mold flashing off and rushing the part to a bin so we could back it back to the machine in time for the next part. We were all like machines ourselves for the entire 8-hour shift. My mind would wander and I would use it to escape the drudgery. The repetitiveness didn’t seem to bother many of my co-workers. I also noticed that many of them were not the DIY type. They were more of the type that would just call a guy when something broke.

I can’t say I really blame them. The work was exhausting, and to add insult to injury we had just bought a foreclosure that was in bad shape. It really wore me out to work 8-12 hours in the factory, then go home and remodel! I think I was one of the few working there who was actually building skills and knowledge outside work. It’s amazing to think that someone can do work equivalent to making 2-3 cars per month without the ability to run a 1/2″ PEX line or patch a hole in drywall. Let that last part sink in a bit. We were all making about $12 an hour for enough productivity to build 2-3 $18,000 cars each month!

As productive as specialization may make us it has led to a dramatic loss of skills. Our ancestors were not specialized. Sure, there was the guy who could make a kick-ass arrowhead and the gal that tanned hides to make everyone clothes. There always has been and always will be specialization as long as the laws of economics hold sway. However, the arrowhead maker could also hunt, fish, start a fire, preserve meat, tend to plants, or repair damage to his home.  Wild humans had talents and abilities that were unique to each individual, but they also learned a variety of skills in addition to what they were really good at. Specialization and the comfortable lifestyle it provides, can be a trap. Escape the trap by mastering a diverse skill set just like your primitive ancestors did.

Here’s the challenge: dedicate yourself to learning new skills every day. It would be best if it relates to rewilding somehow, but just take time to learn something new. Try to master a new skill each month. Be the guy your friends call when something breaks instead of calling someone else to fix your own problems. We have no excuse! Our hunter-gatherer ancestors did not have Google or YouTube. You do! You can literally learn to do just about anything you could dream of doing for free, in the comfort of your living room. So, what are you waiting for? Go learn something!

What is the one thing that keeps us domesticated?

As domesticated humans, one of the first things we need to ask ourselves is what exactly prevents us from being free. While it might be important to study how we got here, or try to point fingers at those responsible, the most important thing is to take proactive steps to free yourself. The first step to freeing yourself is to identify the one thing that is most responsible for your domestication. It might be different for everyone, but I think there is one commonality behind everyone’s domestication. I’d like to explore that. I’d like to find the root cause for all of us, but first let’s look at some of the other stumbling blocks to rewilding.

Peer Pressure – Let’s face it, bringing fermented veggies and organ meat to the office for lunch probably won’t help much on your next performance review. Anytime you do something out of the ordinary, be prepared to face criticism. While I would love to pretend that we’re all supermen living in some Randian novel designing skyscrapers however the hell we want to, most of us do care what others think of us on some level. Peer pressure can definitely be a stumbling block to rewilding, but it isn’t a deal breaker. You can find ways to blend in while still working towards rewilding. Instead of offal and kraut, why not pack grilled chicken, veggies, and some of this awesome fermented dip? No one has to know it isn’t ordinary bean dip! Instead of telling your co-worker that you’re getting in tune with your natural self on a foraging trip, just say you enjoy hiking. You might find that your friend enjoys hiking too which might open up the conversation a little more. Before long, you might find a few like-minded rewilders you can open up to at work. There are ways we can deal with peer pressure. This is not the one thing that’s keeping us on the farm.

Health – It might be difficult to chase down small game, start a fire without matches, and build a shelter with nothing but a pocket knife. Especially if you suffer from chronic illnesses caused by a lifetime of glycation and inactivity.  I get it! We all have to start somewhere, but we can improve our health to a point where spending more time in the wild is possible. Start with the seven principles of hunter-gatherer fitness if you doctor gives you the go-ahead. If you stay consistent and eat a hunter-gatherer diet when practical, you will reach your goals in no-time. Health is more of a temporary roadblock. It’s might be keeping you domesticated right now, but YOU are in the drivers seat here. Take the wheel and move towards a healthier life.

Money – Sometimes you’re just BROKE! I get that, and I’ve been there. Many of us struggle to earn a living. Rewilding doesn’t have to be some lofty goal you achieve after you get out of debt or attain some level of financial independence. No, rewilding is a means of reaching your financial goals. A big part of my rewilding philosophy revolves around the need to learn a diverse array of survival skills using both modern and primitive means. Ancient man built and repaired his own shelter. When we apply that idea to our own life, we spend time learning to hang drywall, repair plumbing, install flooring, and repair HVAC ducts. This might not be as sexy as building a primitive dwelling with hand tools, it saves you money and it is far more hunter-gatherer than calling a guy. Similarly, when we grow a small annual garden we reduce our food bill, send less money in the form of taxes to politicians that domesticate us, and learn primitive skills all at the same time. It’s stacking functions! It might not be on the same level as building a swale based silvopasture to paddock livestock through, but growing a small garden puts you a step above the family that buys everything at the store. As we are beginning to see, money is not the stumbling block we think it is. Oftentimes, rewilding leads to us having more of it!

Obligations – If your answer to the question posed in this post is obligations, you’re getting warmer! Work, school, family, bills, cooking, cleaning, all of these things can take away from our rewilding efforts. What we are looking for is root causes, not symptoms. Obligations are not always bad for us. When they take away from our path to rewilding, it is simply a symptom of an underlying disease.

Government rules and regulations – Wear your seatbelt! Don’t drive over 65! You can’t grow THAT plant, but tomatoes are perfectly fine! You cannot operate a business without a license! Hunting? Fishing? You need the state’s permission to do those basic human activities. I would say that this is the root cause. Coercive government is the thing that enslaved our ancestors after all. Civilization is the thing that brought us away from our natural state during the agricultural revolution. Large, centralized systems that dominate individuals and families would not be possible without coercive force.  But is government really holding us back from rewilding, or are we just not clever enough to take our liberty back? Is this the one thing preventing us from reaching a level of Nirvana last seen in the life of Grok and his tribe? No, I say it isn’t. I say government may be the root cause of every ill on the planet, but it is not standing in your way. You can outwit them at every turn if you understand the most evil tool at their disposal. That tool is the only thing that stands in your way!

Alright already! What the heck are you getting at here?

So, now we know what isn’t holding all of humanity back. The question remains. What is one problem that we could solve and hasten humanity’s return to a wild state? What is the one way the state is still able to dominate our lives? Why are our obligations holding us back? Why does our health decline as we age? Why are we always chasing more money just to survive? Why do we give a flying rats behind what Bob from accounting thinks about the contents of our damn lunchbox? What can we do? How do we attack this problem? How do we rewild? Alright, at this point I am approaching peak reader fatigue, and I just need to get to the point already! Let’s get right down to it. There is a root cause of all our woes. It relates to some, if not all, of the problems we discussed above. It has many different causes, but these causes all result in the same outcome. That outcome is that we do not have the free time our ancestors did.


Time is the primary tool used to control us. When we transitioned from hunter-gatherer to peasant farmer, we transitioned to a lifestyle of constant toil. Industry and automation brought some relief, but most of us still spend 8-10 hours a day working for the benefit of someone else. Without idle time, most people don’t contemplate things like the Federal Reserve and fractional reserve banking. Most of us don’t have the time to start businesses and create multiple income streams. We often do not have much time for family at the end of the day, and we surely don’t have hours to spend gardening or hiking through the woods. Our masters keep us busy and distracted, least we might rediscover our wild nature.

Well we are discovering it. If you are reading this, you are part of a growing movement to free humanity from our domestication. Your first step is to reclaim your time. Here are five concrete steps we can all take towards rewilding:

  • Pay off your debt. Without it you will be less dependent on a 9-5
  • Automate your life
  • Start creating passive income streams
  • Find work you can do from home or mobile
  • grow your own food

Recipe: Lacto-Fermented Rewilding Bean Dip

All the evidence from archaeology and anthropology seems to indicate that grains and legumes should not make up the bulk of a human diet. We simply did not evolve eating these foods in high quantity. However, there is a way we can remove the anti-nutrients and turn a bad food into a source of healthy probiotics with fermentation. The fact is, ancient man DID store and use these foods, especially during cold months. What he DID NOT do was cook and eat beans as-is. No, the best way to prepare these foods is through soaking, sprouting, and fermenting. These methods will break down anti-nutrients that damage your gut, make vitamins and minerals bio-available, and turn your food into a probiotic supplement.

There are about fifteen beneficial bacteria on just about everything around us. The problem is, we often kill them before we eat anything. Now that we understand gut health a little better, people are spending a fortune on probiotic supplements and raw sauerkraut from the health food store. Instead of spending money on another supplement, I choose to harness the bacteria already sitting on my food. My probiotic supplementation costs me about four dollars a month, the cost of a few heads of cabbage.

The secret is salt. Our ancestors discovered this amazing, low-tech method of preserving food by advantaging the beneficial lactobacillus against harmful bacteria in a salt rich environment. Then our bacteriological allies produce lactic acid as the fermentation process unfolds, which preserves our food. When we make sauerkraut at home, we sometimes get tens of trillions of bacteria per teaspoon. It’s literally like eating a bottle of probiotic supplements all at once when you eat a few spoons of fermented foods. Which reminds me, be cautious! The first few times you eat fermented foods might cause, well…gastric disturbances. Build up SLOWLY to a couple of teaspoons of fermented foods each day.

Why should you bother to do this? Well, you want to rewild yourself right? Did you know that you are mostly made up of bacteria? It’s a fact that bacteria outnumber your cells by a large margin. You need a healthy balance of bacteria to enjoy the good health of the rewilding lifestyle.

Well that’s probably more background information than you wanted to know. On with the recipe so we can rewild our gut bacteria!



  • 4 cups black beans
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 2 dried Anaheim peppers
  • 3 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 3 tbsp powdered garlic
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 lime
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 cup purified water
  • 1/2 cup liquid from previous sauerkraut ferment



  • Soak black beans overnight, drain, add fresh water and 1/4 tsp salt, then soak another day
  • Rinse beans
  • Cook beans at least six hours, or until well done
  • While beans are cooking, prepare cilantro and chop up peppers in a food processor
  • Rinse and cool the beans to room temperature, place them in a large bowl and smash them (you MUST break open beans you plan to ferment)
  • Add water, spices, lime juice, peppers and salt to the bowl, stir well to combine
  • The last step before you transfer to your fermenter is to mix your sauerkraut juice well throughout your bean dip. This will ensure proper fermentation
  • IMPORTANT: make sure you have at least four inches of head space and that your beans are completely cooked


I use a half gallon mason jar setup with an airlock similar to the instructions on Northwest Edible Life. I cannot recommend Erica’s blog enough for those of you interested in food preservation.

You want to place all your bean dip into your fermentation container and secure with an airlock. I would not recommend trying this recipe without an airlock. You need an oxygen free environment to ensure proper results. Place your ferment in a dark place at room temperature for two to four days. Use a clean spoon to check for flavor beginning on day two. When you like the taste, place your ferment in the refrigerator and enjoy with some sprouted grain tortilla chips. This dip should keep for up to a month if properly refrigerated.


As you can see, the bean dip fits perfectly into a half gallon jar. It is ready to sit on the counter-top and ferment for a few days. Be sure to follow all the steps exactly and only use sauerkraut juice from a home ferment that you KNOW contains live lactic acid bacteria. How about some comments? Did you like this recipe?

The Seven Principles of Hunter-Gatherer Fitness

Fitness is a subject I’m almost afraid to delve into. There’s so many differing opinions, scientific studies, self-proclaimed guru’s, and fads in this space that it can be a daunting task to filter through all the noise. However, our pursuit of a rewilding lifestyle demands that we take a look at fitness. After all, you can’t truly enjoy a hike, visiting the park, going on a hunting trip, afternoon gardening, or a trip to the beach if you’re out of shape. So, let’s take a look at an average day in the life of our pre-agricultural ancestors.

You wake up early on a late summer day to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. Around you the rest of your tribe is already getting prepared for the  morning hike. You have a five mile trek ahead of you, and no food reserves to start your day on. No one seems to be in a panic over this fact, and there’s a good reason for that. This is the time of the year the berries on the mountainside come into ripeness. This morning the tribe will be practicing the first two principles of hunter-gatherer fitness: intermittent fasting and low intensity-long duration exercise.

By noon all the berries have been picked clean. You won’t be back to this area until the cold months when it will be time to grow out the berry patch by clearing small trees for firewood and planting hardwood cuttings in the cleared spaces. There are enough berries left over that you will be making a wild ferment later on with some of the others skilled in this art. During the hike everyone spread out and filled satchels with tubers. Everyone is careful to leave a few in the ground. You even take a moment to spread smaller pieces into a wider area for next year. Another group went out to hunt small game which will provide much needed fats and proteins for a later meal. The other group will likely be chasing game to exhaustion, using their superior endurance and coordination to run down the small animals.  This is the next principle of hunter-gatherer fitness: jog for moderate distances. They might have even had to practice the fourth principle towards the end of the hunt, which is to sprint or do some other high intensity-short duration cardio.

Later in the year, the tribe changes its focus to tasks more appropriate to the cooling weather. Fuel must be stored for the coming winter. Felling small trees with hand tools required a great deal of strength, which brings us to the next principle: Moderate strength training. Our ancestors were not pumping iron for hours in the gym, but they did use their muscles intensively once or twice a week. We should all strive to do the same.

As the days grow shorter and the cold sets in, there is little carbohydrate food to be found in your temperate environment. This is the time the tribe shuts down. Smaller prey have gone to ground or face more pressure from other predators. This is the time of the year to conserve energy and stalk big game. With a precious reserve of salt from the nearby ocean, you can make enough Biltong to feed the tribe for a week off a large kill. When you’re not hunting you spend time with the tribe socializing and planning the next year’s activities. Due to limitations of natural resources, everyone goes through a time of low activity and ketosis. Subsisting primarily on animal fats and proteins during the winter months allowed our ancestors to maintain healthy weights effortlessly, even into old age. This is the final principle we will discuss today: Maintain weight by entering ketosis once each year

By studying the habits of our enlightened ancestors, we can better understand our bodies and the steps we can all take to make them more healthy. At this point I should probably make the lawyers in our tribe happy by mentioning that this is not medical advise. You should seek a health professional for any illnesses or injuries. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s list each principle of hunter-gatherer fitness in order:

  • Intermittent Fasting
  • Low Intensity-Long Duration Exercise
  • Jogging Moderate Distances
  • Sprinting
  • Moderate Strength Training
  • Yearly Ketosis
  • Eat Real Food

That last point wasn’t really mentioned in our example from above, but it should have been self evident! The tribe didn’t stop off at a fast food place on the way up the mountainside. I will go into full detail on nutrition in a later post. For now, just think of the things that would have been available to a tribal civilization and try to stick to those foods. Eat lots of pastured meats, fresh vegetables, fermented vegetables, beyond organic fruits, seeds, nuts, and small portions of sprouted or fermented grains and legumes.

Again, I am not qualified to give medical advise in this blog, but I can tell you what worked for me. Remember to consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program. I will be honest. I’m not at the level of fitness I should be at today. I was in great shape two years ago when I discovered these principles. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s tough and I have not devoted the energy to my health I would have liked to since then. So what happened when I applied these seven principles you ask? I immediately realized I was carrying too much weight. I went into a period of ketosis and lost 60 lbs in 45 days! I slowly reintroduced carbs focusing on whole foods and limiting sugars and grains. I took practical steps to walk more. I ran three miles a day four times a week, sprinting at the end. I lifted weights twice a week. That was the best I have ever felt in my life, but “civilized” life got the better of me, and I slipped back into old habits.

I have come to the realization that we should all take immediate steps to improve our fitness and the seven principles of hunter-gatherer fitness is a great guide to get started. It’s not enough though. You will never find the time to go 100% hunter-gatherer while working a day job. That’s why we all need to strive to meet 50% of these benchmarks now, while working to increase our independence for the future. These principles will be much easier to uphold one day when you are the master of your time. So, work to build passive income streams, and follow the principles you can manage today. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good. Do what you can now, and stay positive. We’re all on this journey to rewilding together.

Fitness, Fashion, or Fad? Guest post by Lindsey Akers

Everyone wears one or knows someone who does. It seems they are everywhere from pendants to clip-on’s, or the ever popular bracelets. I’m talking of course about the wearable tech we are seeing pushed on the masses after the over-saturation of smart phones left electronics manufacturers searching for new markets. These devices often measure variables such as heart rate or sleep cycles, while others claim to reduce stress or revolutionize the way you feel about fitness. They’re popular for men, women, and children and have a wide selection of functionality, fashion, and ways to wear your device. Of course the winner of the marketing award goes to Fitbit, which has become a household name.

There really is a variety of these devices to meet everyone’s individual needs. Coming in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and prices, these wearable fitness devices have made their mark.

In December of 2015, I decided to purchase one of these devices on a whim. I didn’t care what the exact features were or how it looked, I was more concerned with one thing: Increasing my activity level to mimic that of an ancient hunter-gatherer. As an added bonus, my device monitors sleep patterns which helps me with my experiments in biphasic sleep patterns! After much deliberation , I settled on the Jawbone UP2 with Amazon exclusive gold and purple colors. So far I have really enjoyed the experience. It has made me more aware of my activity levels, and I find the sleep tracking to be useful for tracking my overall health and well-being. Get yours by clicking below:

Our ancestors, who lived healthier and more fulfilling lives than we do, spent hours casually strolling through a managed forest ecosystem harvesting from their forest gardens. On occasion, they had to lift heavy objects to make structures. They also engaged in sprinting as a means to escape dangers or at the end of a hunt. Speaking of hunting, we were designed for long-distance running. Humans were slower, but capable of greater endurance than most of the prey they fed on. We would routinely run for up to five miles before trapping and killing an animal to share with our community. As rewilding enthusiasts, we are trying to mimic those ancestral levels of activity: Low intensity walking combined with strength training and occasional sprinting or jogging for up to 3-5 miles at a time. We always like to say that rewilding does not necessitate the total abandonment of technology. Far from being Luddites, we strive to use any tool at our disposal to return to a human way of living!

Agriculture: Not so revolutionary

We’re often told of the wonders of revolutionary changes that led to our modern world. The industrial revolution, technology revolution, and the agricultural revolution all come to mind.  I will admit that there are benefits gleaned from each of these for the average individual. I am sitting in a house built with industrially milled 2×4 pine, factory produced nails, drywall, and metal while typing on a machine more powerful than a million dollar super computer from a couple of decades ago. Tonight I ate a meal prepared from store-bought ingredients that I did not toil to produce.  Oh, but there’s the great lie about agriculture!

It might be true that mechanization has increased the productivity and reduced human labor hours within our conventional systems. That’s not the point I am trying to argue against! In fact, I am a huge supporter of using automation to produce food. No, the point of this article is to point out the failings of monocropped agriculture, which has been the model of food production in “civilized” cultures for thousands of years. Agriculture demands that we toil, but it wasn’t always that way.

I would be remiss at this point, if I did not first give credit to the pioneers of the Permaculture movement for the ideas I am about to expose you to. Permaculture is a design science developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. They were heavily influenced by Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka, and I would be equally remiss for not giving Mr Fukuoka a name drop as well.  I cannot go into anywhere near enough detail in this post to explain Permaculture, but I will give you some resources. These are all excellent books to begin your study of Permaculture:

  • Gaia’s Garden – Toby Hemenway’s masterpiece is the best place to start for those of us in suburbia
  • Permaculture One – Mollison’s Magnum Opus. This is a tough read, but great for referencing
  • One Straw Revolution – Masanobu Fukuoka’s wonderful work on systems design

So, back to our original topic, what’s so bad about agriculture? To answer that question, we need to go back to basic biology. I mean REALLY basic. I’m talking about the stuff you learned in third grade and kind of forgot about because your Prussian model education was all about passing a test. If you will recall, natural systems rely on interdependence to maintain balance. When there is a lack of one element to the system, something will rush in to fill the niche. Ask my southern grandmother about the importation of the kudzu plant, and you will hear the closest thing to a profanity laced tirade to ever come from her. The kudzu invasion of our roadsides and meadows is a perfect example of nature filling a void.

When we plow and sow one species we create a void. By design, the world we live in has evolved to fill that void with what we refer to as “weeds”. These weeds are actually serving a function to prevent soil erosion by covering bare soil. Instead of understanding this function and adapting it to meet our goals, we endlessly toil against the weeds. This has led to the adoption of potentially carcinogenic sprays to kill weeds and petrochemical fertilizers used to restore an NPK ratio to soils that have eroded away because of a lack of weeds! You don’t have to be a Persian messenger to see that this is MADNESS!

If we look further at the problems of agriculture, we see that we are not making the full use of the sun’s energy. Have you ever walked through a dense forest at midday? There’s not very much light getting through there, right? Contrast that to a corn field where there is only about 3-7 feet of photosynthesis going on towards the end of the season.

corn field

After the corn is harvested, the soil is getting baked by the sun and all that energy is just going to waste. So, we know that agriculture is not so revolutionary when we understand the design science of Permaculture.

When you design a forest garden based on the principles of Permaculture, you exert a lot of effort up front. After that initial install, the system balances and you are left with a low maintenance system that utilizes more of the sun’s energy without the need for outside resources. This is the exact opposite of toiling every year to produce a bushel of corn.

So now you know what the real revolutionary system is when it comes to food production. What we don’t know yet is how this all ties into rewilding. I will explain that in part II of this post where we study the origins of Permaculture a bit more. Here’s a preview: Permaculture techniques are mostly just adapting ancient methods to new technologies. Our “primitive” ancestors understood how to stack functions and design an ecosystem to suit their needs. Permaculture is one of the ways we are relearning what it is to be human, and REWILDING OURSELVES!

Unnatural Sleep Cycles

It’s 24,000 BC and you’re a wild human being. You have no masters, rulers, bosses, or whatever title we give to people who tell us how to run our lives these days. You simply exist with those around you by managing natural systems and using your most deadly weapon, the human mind. How do you think you would manage your sleep in a natural state? Clearly there is no harsh blue light to keep you up at night. You might have the warm glow of a fire, but fueling it requires labor which is a scarce resource. You also don’t have an alarm clock to shock you out of REM sleep before dawn so you can go toil behind a desk. No, you simply follow the Earth’s natural cycles just like every other human has for the past 226, 000 years or so.

In the winter time, the day cycles are short. You spend your days hunting game since photosynthesis is at a minimum this time of year. You are in a state of ketosis most of the time since your carbohydrates are limited to a few stored fermented grains, wild tubers, and cold-hardy greens. This state of being helps you regulate weight and shed the extra pounds you gained gorging on berries from the plants you maintained during the summer months. When you are not hunting, you spend these cold days with family, making art, playing music, talking, laughing, and passing down knowledge. You go to sleep shortly after dark. Your sleep is interrupted for several hours after midnight when it is your turn to keep watch with a few others in the group. Then you sleep another 4-6 hours before lazily waking with the sun. This biphasic sleep pattern is the natural way our species evolved to rest. Only recently have we denied our natural sleep cycles…

It’s 2016 and you’re in a rush. The shrill tone of the alarm clock app on your smart phone just awoke you at 5:15AM. You rush to the kitchen and pay homage to the caffeinated gods of Keurig. After you press the button, you fumble through the cabinet looking for sugar. You will need copious amounts of caffeine and sugar to shock your body into a state of being capable to manage the commute. You arrive at your slave-job and grab another cup.

Ten hours later you’re back at home and exhausted. Your spouse picked up some fried chicken on the way home from her slave-job. You quickly scarf it down without much dinnertime conversation. Then it’s time to do all the housekeeping chores, and help the kids with their mountains of homework from the government schools. The sun has gone down hours ago by the time you crash into the couch and watch the professional liars on the local news tell you what to think. The blue glow of the LED panel interferes with your normal biological clock. You feel restless, so you take a few shots of whiskey to help you get to sleep. By midnight you make it to bed for five  fitful hours of sleep.

If this second scenario sounds in any way familiar, you might benefit from an experiment in biphasic sleep. It’s been well documented in academia that the concept of uninterrupted sleep is a very recent trend. Before electricity we used to experience cycles of sleeping and waking throughout the night. Without cheap and abundant light sources, ancient man slept in an entirely different pattern than we do today. As much as I appreciate Edison and Tesla (more-so Tesla), I have come to realize that artificial light is disruptive to our sleep.

How do we begin to regain our ancestral sleep patterns? I’m not suggesting that you should go to bed at 7PM every night and quit your job tomorrow! We have to take a gradual approach to rewilding ourselves. It took 25,000 years to get here, and we will not correct the damage overnight! Start by:

  • Turning off all electronics by 9PM in the summer or 7PM in the winter. Read a book or spend time with loved-ones instead
  • Replace unnatural and potentially toxic fluorescent bulbs with a solution that mimics natural lighting
  • Work towards financial independence so you can free yourself from slavery to the alarm clock one day
  • Go to bed earlier, wake up after midnight, and spend an hour doing something enjoyable or productive.  I bet you can think of something to do that might get your spouse on board with this idea…Break your sleep into two cycles for a week and compare your energy levels to before biphasic sleep

Sleep is an important part of what makes us human. Our bodies and minds need time to heal. This is especially important for growing children. I highly recommend taking your kids out of the government schools and letting them sleep in later. Teenagers especially need more sleep due to rapid growth, and waking up to get on the bus disrupts this critical time in your child’s development. Try to begin homeschooling in the mid-morning instead of following the traditional model of school by 8AM. Everyone’s stress levels will go down!

Give biphasic sleep and gradual awakening a try as you walk your path to rewilding.


Welcome to the Rewilding blog!!!

This is my very first post to the site, and I have plans for many more to follow. I’d love to tell you that I am sitting in a yurt somewhere in the middle of a managed food forest drinking kombucha and chowing down on grass-fed steak with a side of Au gratin Jerusalem Artichokes.

The truth is, I am sitting in my suburban home (complete with lawn), drinking a fat tire, and browsing through some unhealthy snacks in the kitchen. That brings me to my first point, rewilding is a journey. We are not going to undo 25,000 years of subjugation to the master-slave paradigm overnight! At this point, I might have lost some of you. So, let me back up a bit and begin with a simple question: What is rewilding?

According to the Wikipedia submission rewilding is, “large-scale conservation aimed at restoring and protecting natural processes and core wilderness areas, providing connectivity between such areas, and protecting or reintroducing apex predators and keystone species.” First, I should point out that a keystone species is any species whose behavior impacts all other species around it. A popular example of this is the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park.  By any definition, WE are both apex predators and a keystone species. The human mind is the pinnacle of evolution on earth. It is our greatest weapon and tool. It grants us the ability to manipulate matter in creative ways, which allowed us to reach the pinnacle of the global ecosystem. By becoming the dominant species on the planet, we also earned the title of keystone species. Our behavior influences the lives and existence of every other species on the planet. Things like the Gulf of Mexico dead zone have a cascading effect on other ecosystems around the globe. When we behave in a way that is detrimental to our environment, we have a negative impact on all species. When we behave in a positive manner, we can have a regenerative effect on the earth.

How do we behave positively? We return to our natural state. We behave like HUMANS. We REWILD ourselves. That’s my goal for The Rewilding Blog. I want to share my journey towards a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and educate others on specific ways to do the same. This does not mean that I plan to live in a cave, eschew technology, or change my name to Fred Flintstone! On the contrary, technology is one of the many tools I will use to return to a natural state. Let me go ahead and make a public admission that I plan to use this blog to generate revenue for myself. Content creation can generate passive income. It can be done anywhere, and at the time of your choosing. The same cannot be said of income you get from the average job. By the way, JOB = Just Over Broke for most of us. My goal is to create multiple revenue streams so I can be in control of my time. By the way, If you’d like to help me with this goal, you can click here and support this blog by shopping on Amazon.  Lack of control over our time is one of the primary things that separates us from our human ancestors, most of us have no control over how we spend 8 or more hours out of each day. So that is one way we are not behaving like humans. Here are some others:

In future posts I will expand on each of these topics and offer specific steps to bring ourselves closer to a natural state of being.