Commentary – Pass the potatoes, please!

Chris Clegg

In days long ago, Dag and Zonk had to forage for food. They left the cave each day to hunt. Romantic legend depicted in cartoons has them hunting for dinosaurs (not true!) with sabre-toothed tigers around them. A very dangerous situation!
In reality, they probably sought small game such as rabbits or grouse. Depending on what part of the world they lived, the menu changed. Meat from the plains or fish from the sea. A guy has to eat what a guy has to eat, right?
I am fascinated by the TV show Alone. They stick people in the middle of nowhere, give them 10 items and a few cameras and order them to survive off the land. It is not unlike famous Canadian Les Stroud when he starred and filmed in Survivorman. In both shows, the participants have to film their experiences. It is not unlike what Dag and Zonk had to do to survive, except at any time they can tap out and go home. Dag and Zonk had no such luxury.
The participants in all these shows are survival experts. This is no joke. You have to be highly skilled to survive in brutal weather conditions. Past locations are Patagonia, Great Slave Lake, the rain forest on Vancouver Island, Mongolia and Labrador just before winter hits. Not most people’s idea of fun.
It is interesting to note how the participants are grateful for the smallest meal. Many of us cannot fathom how happy we would be for a squirrel or small bird, but when you are starving every little bit helps. Many times, the participants are elated and give thanks to nature and the bird/animal they are about to receive. Many have a deep connection to nature.
In the past, humans were all hunters and gatherers. Our ancestors left the cave or hut to forage for our daily bread. Eventually, some stayed at home to tend to crops or raise animals. As centuries went by, it was discovered you could trade for items. Perhaps some of the earliest trading was food for weapons so you could hunt for even more food.
Today, many of us procure food in similar ways to ancient times. We tend to domestic livestock and grow gardens. Some of us go in the wild to pick berries if we don’t grow them at home. We learned what was good to eat and what wasn’t. It reminds me of a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon what Calvin asks a question about milking a cow. To paraphrase, he asks who thought of pulling these things to get milk!
Today, people take our complex food providing system for granted. There is an old joke about a city dweller not having too much concern for the agriculture industry.
“Why should I care? I’ll just go to the supermarket to get my food!” they say.
There are people who think that way!
On a Canadian episode of Cash Cab, a group of people could not identify a combine in the double-or-nothing bonus question. It is startling how little many people know about food and how we process it.
But why care? We can just go to A&W or Tim Hortons to full up, they say!
Particularly in North America, we have been spoiled when it comes to food. Unlike much of Europe during times of war, widespread famine has not hit us hard. It is why land ownership is so precious and why the European agriculture industry tends to be more subsidized by the government. They know what it’s like to go hungry. Try eating turnips every day to survive! Blech!
Dag and Zonk realized the troubles of food procurement long ago. As time evolved, they were determined to do something about it. Thank God they did!

Share this post