Sketching up local eating ideas

Edible landscapes and wildfood

Drawing up concepts for edible trails and local food supplies as a path to better relationships between locals and hikers

By Frits Ahlefeldt,

New innovative movement are working to reconnect people to the local landscapes in many ways. One of them is through what has been called “The local food movement”

Drawing of hiking trail with food
Food can help locals and hikers relate along the trails

Giving up the outdated solutions of yesterday for a smarter tomorrow

Solar power is so much smarter

Factory chimney with smoke blocking the sun of tomorrow illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt
Today we can either create the technology for tomorrow, or the limitations for it.

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Solar power and solar technology is now both cheaper, more advanced and easier to install and use to store energy than the old, extremely polluting and cumbersome coal and oil energy sources. With good reason a lot of countries are speeding up to switch to solar, but also wind and other alternative sources.  Some countries are unfortunately going in the other direction…

The tragedy is that this scared run for yesterday, risk to destroy the future for everybody, to favor a few, that are too conservative to make the necessary changes. Fortunately it look like in most of the world, new solar harvesting structures are being build on a scale never seen before, energy structures that can soon support and nurture both new technologies, locals, food and thrive

Hikers and hiking is here on pushing the edge, new solar technologies, ultra-light and effective panels, batteries and less power hungry flashlights, phones and other technologies are tested to their most extreme by hikers on the trails, and what works for hiking – will very likely work everywhere… to the benefit of everybody

Can hiking solve global problems?

If you wonder what to do – start walking

Stop fighting – start hiking drawing and text by Frits Ahlefeldt,

There are many challenges to our small blue planet right now. From armed conflicts, to global threats of epidemics, population growth, culture clash and lack of resources – and a very, very strange distribution of them – First step to solve any challenge is most often to get a different perspective on everything. And to my experience the best and fastest way to get that is to start walking

When you walk, you can only carry a little, and only take one step at the time – just those two things can really make a great difference to anybody’s understanding, after a few days. First you start realize that it is actually not that scary to spend the nights under the sky. Second you realize how little – and much you have to lose, when what you got, is more about who you are, and how you handle challenges, than about fancy stuff you can buy to strap to your back.

drawing of two dogs fighting over a planet

First step in solving conflicts and challenges is most often to let go, to understand them from a different perspectiveWhen you let go and start walking, then you start to change perspective, you meet people way different from you, and realize, when everybody get out of their comfort zones, conflicts, cars, houses and suits, we are all a lot alike – and share more than divide us – and more than anything we share life.

And Life is so much more important than anything, anybody can ever buy or claim. But it is not something you can realize from behind walls or wheels or screens, or by holding tight unto what you claim to be yours, but much more something you can understand from walking and sharing trails and stories, while walking.

Combining hiking with local eating

We need to get much better at connecting hikers to locals and the landscapes – and food is a great way

Text and drawings by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Just came back from a food fair, watching people connect over food. Is there any more genuine way for hikers to both connect to the locals and the land, without words? – simple by follow the old saying: “you become what you eat” sharing food experiences. And, instead of relying on freeze dried food from nowhere, in the backpack,  relate through tasting the land and the local ways of eating, together with people who live their lives along the trails 

Drawing live from a food fair
Eating together is a way hikers and locals can use much more
drawing of people celebrating food together
Eating is a wordless way of relating both to the land and to each other
hiker and farmer talking food along a trail
Hiker and farmer relating over food

Estimating the value of Earth

Can you put nature up on a scale to measure it’s value in money?

Drawing and text by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Drawing of a scale with nature, us and Earth on one side and money on the other
How money as a measure of everything, ends up defining everything

There is a whole school in nature conservation economics and business philosophy that try as hard as it can to set up exchange rates between money and the value of life, nature, trails and landscapes, to bring the environment into the economic, resource spreadsheet logic that rules this world more and more. But to me it seems like there is a number of reasons this is a flawed idea

We haven’t got a clue about what we try to measure

For a start we humans still have very limited idea about what we and/or this planet is, about how ecological systems work, about how our planet is connected to the rest of the universe , or what that universe is, or how it work or what our function in it is,  and looking at nature we still have less than a clue about what things like biodiversity, plate tectonics, oceans and life are, or how the energies, dynamics and flows that forms them, works. So we simple haven’t got a clue about most of the things we try to measure and translate into money.

Money is not a real thing

Second money is not a real thing, you can put on a scale. Money used to be numbers hammered onto small pieces of metal, but today that is a long time ago. Now money is just bits of digital flickering numbers, based on a loose cultural, ever changing constructed idea, that nobody really understands anyway.

There is no other side of the scale

Third – We humans are living, breathing, feeling, eating and walking from birth to death as an integrated part of the interconnected life on this planet, and our ever-changing cultures, stories and social structures and ideas – including money… is just part of our cultural collective storytelling. And those stories and structures can change as fast as our global imagination can transform them and make new ones up. There is no “economical, rational other side” of things, separated from our cultural and natural reality. So there is no “other side” of the scale

Money as a measure of everything, ends up defining everything

The idea that we can measure life and reality in money comes from our limited ability to grasp reality, instead, using fuel and resource metaphors, we think we can calculate how much money is needed for a planet, a human being or happiness.

Today we have an obsession with measuring everything in money, including love, quality of life, value of biodiversity, education, and importance of the oceans or the distance to the Sun.

The problem is that the more we fall for the illusion that  we can set up “exchange rates” between money and the rest of reality … The more we construct a new reality, based on money as the ruling reality… the more we cling to this flawed model, and try to translate everything into cold cash,  the more we drift further and further away from understanding life or anything else, as anything but money.


The flawed logic of the longest straw

When short term solutions destroy the long term benefits

Drawing and text by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Drawing of a truck with a very long straw stopping by a small well
The flawed logic of the longest straw

Today there is often a huge short term profit connected with clear cutting and ripping the landscapes of any low hanging profits, while the consequences for the biodiversity and locals not even enter into the considerations or spreadsheets of the decision takers 

It’s all about having the longest straw, being able to pull fish from the ocean, water from the rivers and minerals from the mines faster and earlier than anybody else, to gain the upper profit hand.

The problem is that this strategy more often than not destroy the balance and long term sustainability of the resource in question… and when the ocean, forest, mines, river or glass is empty, not even the longest straw can re-create what have been lost for all…

Living in a spreadsheet reality

Hiking away from numbers

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

More and more we live in a calculated reality, we invest in our families, we optimize minutes with our kids and at work our lives are on the mercy of how the numbers add up in the spreadsheet… even thrive is something we invest in, to get “better results”  – and in walking, the 10.000 steps a day is going mainstream

Drawing of people with heads as calculators
Are we becoming living calculators

Wild food a growing trend (drawing)

Walking combined with fruit picking can make walks all year much more tasteful

Free drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Woman picking fruit from a tree
Picking wild food along the hiking trails

In the summer and fall, you can find a lot of different wild fruits, both berries and other species to be enjoyed at the spot. Or you can pick them and bring them back home, to prepare ( conserve, freeze, concentrate, sweeten, dry them etc. ) to turn them into jam, or mix them with nuts as trail-mix, grains for breakfast, or put on bottles for warming winter soups and drinks.

Cool way to make homemade, tasty and free wild snacks and vitamin / energy boosters to bring along on walks the rest of the year.

Fodie hiker

Being food competent means knowing how to live of the land


Text and CreativeCommons drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

People closly connected to the places they walk in often have a unique knowledge of edible species of herbs, vegetables, fruits roots and other foods.
And a growing number of hikers, goes out in the landscapes, not only to watch pretty scenery, but to connect to nature through more challenging ways. One of them is to taste the landscapes. 

Strange thing is that this is actually one of the ways you can really become one with a place… Not only simply because you become what you eat, but also because the sense of taste (strongly related to the sense of smell, among others) is more hardwired directly into our subconsciousness than hearing and seeing. And we can actually “record” many more dimensions of a place by tasting it, while walking, than we can just by seeing it.

So next time you go hiking… try open your mouth to taste the experience much more.

Civilization hangover

Time for change?

drawing of the press, politician, business and science sitting at a bar wondering what went wrong

Civilization hangover…

This morning, looking at the news,  I feel like sitting in a bar at five in the morning with a bunch of regulars, wondering over the last round of drinks about what went wrong…

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

How come global warming, deforestation, war and greed get to take over more and more places, while poverty stretches its arms and most of the 1% of the richest people cruise seas out of reach?

Believe its time to close the bar, and get everybody outdoors to start walking…

Teaching kids about food outdoors on the trails

Hiking give kids appetite, both for learning and for eating healthy food

Text and CreativeCommons drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Children like to explore, learn and understand nature, and there are many ways to help them do this outdoors, one of these are designing food-trails where they can learn about the vegetables, the soil, the fruits and the herbs they can find, taste and bring home to their families to make dinner much more local and connected to the place they live

Drawing of the day for the food-trails project

drawing a trail teacher learning kids about edible plants
Learning kids about wild food, nutrition and the environment on the food trails

Free to download and use the drawing under CreativeCommons By-ND license


Could you get paid to walk?

The society benefits of motivating people to walk instead of drive are many, so why not pay the pedestrians?

Better health, better environment, better thrive, less stress… less traffic, less disease… less use of fossil fuels…  less expenses for road building and maintenance, more space for nature, parks and local food farming.  There are so many benefits of helping people to start a life on foot, instead of a life sitting and driving, that maybe it could actually be a much better investment for both cities and society to help people thrive, by paying them to walk. Instead of compensating them for all the trouble that comes from not walking… 

Free Creative commons Drawing By Frits Ahlefeldt

Drawing of a soup kitchen man with a pot full of money redistributing wealth
Paying people to walk, is that possible?



Wild food and hiking

Eating local while hiking often means wild food

CreativeCommons Drawing and text by Frits Ahlefeldt

Drawing of hikers picking wild fruit and food
Wild food as a new trail dimension in hiking

When on a hike you often pass by lot of nutritious food, especially on forest and back country trails. Places where people throughout history have been able to live off the land by knowing and supporting the thrive of a wide variety of species

Combining trails with support for endemic food species could both make the backpacks lighter, the locals and hikers healthier and everybody less dependent on plastic wrapped, fossil fuel transported industrial foods, from thousand of miles away.

The local food sources, fruit trees and other tasty alternatives are as if designed to grow right there, the soil often not used anymore, and the hiking trails are in place… giving access to these places. Why not combine this to upgrade our understandings, wild food sources and health  for free?

Learning from the “Food is free movement” 

There is already a huge and fast growing trend to support wild and free food, the whole “Food is free”
movement is taking off globally ( )  and more and more people are joining in.

It is just to take all these new understandings of local eating, community building and small scale farming –  And combine them with the ancient trail understandings of nomads and hikers, to create a much lighter and more sustainable way of hiking and supporting local life at the same time.

Five ways hiking helps sustainability

Hiking to a greener world

Text and CreativeCommons Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Drawing of leaves around Earth in space
Greening space, CreativeCommons Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Benefits of hiking is more often than not solely about your personal benefits: How hiking helps against stress, strengthen the body etc. But there is a different and not so much talked about benefit of hiking. The sustainability benefits. How hiking can make us more aware and connected to the environment in ways that use fewer resources, pollute less and consume less

Five ways hiking help to connect us better to the environment:

# 1 Hiking is simple living

Hiking is the nomadic archetype of simple living, doing less with more. Not using/owning more than you can carry, and combining your stuff for multiple uses. Most hikers only carry one towel, one pair of walking boots, one pan, pot, fork, etc.  Compare that to the amount of knifes, pots,  towels etc. in an average home. Hiking work as a way to practice and understand the concepts of simple living… Doing more with less

# 2 Recycling on the trails comes natural

The more people hike, the more they become aware of the benefits of recycling, and the weight of not doing it. Take gas canisters or bottled water, if you use those things, you have to carry all the empty ones with you too. If it is on a weekend trip, on Mount Everest or the Appalachian trail… If you leave them behind, trashing them on the trail, as some people do, the next hikers will become even more aware of the problems of these one use systems – as they will pick up your old canisters, cans or bottles too, to stop them from pollution the environment.  But it is not only gas canisters and bottled water, also canned food and all that extra wrapping around anything from energy bars to tissues, adds up on the weight you have to carry on your shoulders when hiking.

Using the same bottles etc. many times:

Many hikers take only smaller amount of things like shampoo, soap etc. with them. Practicing both how to use less and how to use the same containers many times, refilling their supply of water, soap, shampoo etc. from sources along the way. New stove systems even let you fuel your cooking (and your smartphone) with small fallen twigs, you can collect along the trails.

So hiking is also a lot about smart recycling and some of the best thought-out recycling systems can be found along the hiking trails… to great inspiration to both hikers and others, looking for new ways to recycle.

# 3 Hiking gear designs last longer and can be repaired

On the trails you don’t need fancy, complex designs, but simple, non breaking / easy repairable and long lasting designs, that won’t let you down, when you are far away from new supplies or alternatives.

This is the same design-philosophies and traditions that green and sustainability designs builds on. So there is a lot to gain from asking if a new design would work on the hiking trails.  And both hikers and designers from other areas can find a lot of inspiration on how to create new and more sustainable designs by looking at the way hiking gear designs are thought out.

# 4 Building sustainability habits and awareness

When out hiking you often cross your own trail, so to speak… because you have to carry your comfort-zone with you and decisions taken earlier on the trail will meet you later on.

Wrong decisions and habits about what to bring and not bring, if to sleep that hour longer, if you should deal with that sour muscle, hunger or blister when you first encounter it, can snowball into much larger challenges, when you suddenly face bad weather, run out of energy, with blisters and late in the day as darkness approach you from all sides and you realize the nearest TV dinner is hundreds of miles away.

This is not all bad, actually these crises often help a lot to get a different perspective on what it means to procrastinate and close your eyes to basic needs and early warnings.

This is something that help builds a different set of habits – more sustainable habits based on getting things done, walking the miles while the weather is good, seeking shelter when it’s not and being prepared for and able to adapt to change and unseen challenges in new and creative ways.

It is an awareness many hikers experience after a few days or weeks on the trails, and an awareness that make it easier to consume less and live in more sustainable ways – also when back home, as you will be less likely to “consume your way” out of challenges. Instead you will have built habits to see further ahead, and instead of buying new things, you will be more competent and creative dealing with small and large challenges in smarter ways.

# 5 Connecting to the trees and the stars

Sustainability is often framed as being about “not doing”,  not buying, not wasting etc.

But hiking show a different picture… it is about an alternative, about being outdoors, not only to save energy or because your doctor say it is good for you…  but to watch the stars… to realize just how far you can see beyond the nearest planets, and just how much larger and how much further reality stretches, in places that are free, natural and where you didn’t even have to switch on the power or reserve a good seat to lean back and watch a 360 surround view of the universe expanding all around you