Even before the start of my apprenticeship at the ranch, I would not have described myself as a particularly squeamish person. I like to think that I reacted to incidents involving large numbers of insects (infestations) with an appropriate amount of squeam. However, on more than one occasion, I was nudged outside of my comfort zone within the first few days of my time at the Ranch. Over the past few weeks, my relationship to these small jungle friends has changed once again.
It's 5.30 am in the dewy morning rainforest of Mastatal – the cacophony of squawks and birdsong remind us that the winged beings have begun their daily business of foraging for themselves and their young, the toads have tucked themselves into the nook of a tree or within a pile of leaves to avoid the relentless heat of the new day, and one by one the guests at Rancho Mastatal stretch and yawn their way out of their abodes and ease their way towards their first cup of coffee.
DISCLAIMER: These are my thoughts and experiences on what can be a deeply cultural, charged and personal topic: diet. There is a lot we don’t know, especially when it comes to what a sustainable diet is. For one, most studies have been centred in high-income Western countries (Jones et al., 2016); it’s also still largely unclear exactly what a “healthy diet” should consist of, nevertheless what a truly sustainable society would look like. Integrating all of these concepts is an enormous challenge.
My hands are grappling the rumbling, rusty wheelbarrow handles, and as we walk half a mile through the village, everyone can hear the five Rancho apprentices clunk on through. In a village of 120 people, your whereabouts are everybody's business. Don't worry, I want to say, this will all make sense soon. They'll be having a chuckle by the end of the day. For now, we are five warriors defending alternative energy. We are making the best use of our woman power (and Dan power) when the white pickup truck is out of commission. We are going to pick up poop.
When my dad was in third grade, his class followed the cirriculum laid out in a workbook. In times of boredom and monoteny, he would flip ahead and learn new material the class was soon to arrive at. One day he came across a particularly interesting bit: a tongue twister. My dad spent the next six weeks practicing the tongue twister in secrecy of his classmates until, finally, the class caught up to that point in the workbook. The teacher gave each student the opportunity to recite the tongue twister from the book, and each student who attempted this tongue twister stumbled through a slew of "Betty botta buddhas," until it was my dad's opportunity.
Everything we eat at the Ranch is homemade or made from scratch as we'd say on the east coast of the United States. It takes a lot of time, and is made with a lot of love, which makes it taste even better. Since I am someone who cares a lot about what is going into my body, I became very interested in how our food is grown, where it is coming from, and how it is being cooked.