Georgia Pellegrini is an incredible modern pioneer.
By trailblazing a path to self sufficiency, and urging us to connect with our ancestors’ pasts in living off the land, Georgia Pellegrini’s philosophy on life is refreshing and exciting.
I gratefully had the chance to speak with her about her upcoming co-ed Adventure Getaway (her first co-ed experience, men!) and also how living off the land plays into not only what we put in our bodies, but how we interact with our surroundings.
WOS: Because our readers believe in conservation and living off the land, could you explain how the concept of modern pioneering works into those two ideas?
Georgia Pellegrini: My philosophy is what I call manual literacy and the idea is that it’s important for us to learn to use our hands. Especially when we’re surfing this Information Highway, manual literacy is more important than ever. The skills that our grandparents’ generation had allows us to be in touch with our human instincts.
So modern pioneering stems from this concept that even though we’re starved for time, there are ways to use your hands. There are ways to get back to the land, even in small ways.
My latest book basically is a road map for people on how to do those things. There’s all kinds of recipes, projects, and skills for a self-sufficient life.
In a recent book review, you said that you wanted to embrace an ancient contract between animals and humans, similar to paying the full karmic price for eating the food that we eat. Could you talk a little bit about how you came to that idea?
I was a chef and I was very hands-on with my food and ingredients for a long time. Even though I was fortunate to grow up living off the land, I had moved away from that as I got older and life took over. And so, as part of my effort to get back in touch with that, I realized that I wanted to have a greater relationship with the food that I was eating. I wanted to be more conscious of where my food was coming from and what was happening for it to get to my plate.
So I decided that I wanted to not just grow vegetables and collect eggs, but I wanted to kill the animals that I was eating because I knew that I would appreciate them, I wouldn’t waste them, and the meal would have much more meaning. I wouldn’t have this anonymous relationship with my food and I think that, as a chef, but also as a human being, that it’s an important thing to understand what has to happen for food to get to your plate. It makes us better stewards of the land, more conscious human beings, and better to one another.
You mentioned that you grew up living off the land, but moved away from it. How did it feel to develop these skills later in life?
Well I would say that I was fortunate to learn a majority of these skills growing up, but I didn’t learn to hunt until later in life, that’s true. I think what I learned from that was that you don’t need to be born doing things to really teach yourself how to do them. I think that these things are accessible to all of us, and I think that’s the most important lesson: we never stop learning.
We never stop, and we should never stop stepping outside of our comfort zone because I think forcing yourself to do things that scare you is a very important and necessary thing. It’s a very important part of being a human being and for me, it was learning to hunt my food. For others, it can be something completely different.
The point is that the more we are stepping outside of our comfort zone, the more we’re using our hands, the more we’re getting back in touch with our natural human instincts, the more fulfilling life our lives will be.
You definitely teach all of these lessons during your Adventure Getaways. Is there a task or an adventure that female participants in your getaways have felt the most self-conscious or unsure about, but then have actually ended up loving?
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I would say, consistently, a lot of the women have never hunted, or have never even shot a gun. And I think there is a lot of perception around what a gun is and its purpose, and there are a lot of misperceptions. I think that these women have a lot of fear around it, and so demystifying the gun and using it as a tool in the same way you would use a hammer or knife, as a means to bring dinner home to feed your children, is a very empowering experience for them.
A lot of the women become really hooked afterwards and I often see them going on their own to continue their self-education – how to hunt and how to be more conscientious about the food they’re bringing home to their families. They love it.
You speak a lot about how “self sufficiency is the ultimate girl power.” Does it have to do more with a family aspect, like being able to feed your own family, or do you think it has an independence feeling linked to that concept? Or are they linked intrinsically?
I think it depends on the person. All of us are at different stages of our lives in any given moment. I’ve noticed a lot of women that come on my trips who are mothers and wives feel a little bit like they haven’t spent time doing anything for themselves, and they feel a little inhibited. What often times happens is that they describe this period as their unraveling where they put so much energy into others, that this is their chance to really do something for themselves, to learn something new and maybe a little bit scary.
And it makes them better mothers, better wives, better friends, and better sisters, so that’s really wonderful to see. I think that regardless of what stage you are at in life, whether you’re a man or a woman, putting yourself in positions where you’re constantly learning and challenging yourself and doing some things that are a little scary are important parts of us growing as a person. Squeezing more juice out of life.
I’m doing a co-ed Adventure Getaway this year for that very reason. I think self sufficiency is the most empowering thing for anybody.
How did the choice of doing the first co-ed Adventure Getaway come about?
It came about simply because I was getting so many requests from my audience. I had a lot of men commenting on the fact that they were being left out, and I think that while men do have plenty of opportunities to hunt in our society that are a lot more accessible than women, there’s also an opportunity for people to bond as a couple and make new friends.
At the end of the day, I didn’t want to limit it entirely because there was such a desire and a demand, so I decided to occasionally open it up for everyone, so I’m doing that this year in a very rare event.
This question switches gears a little bit, but do you have any tips for preparing venison that our readers would love to know?
Sure, I just made some really delicious venison yesterday and I think what made it so good was that it had been aged for 21 days. The issue oftentimes with wild game is that people don’t spend the time aging it. Wild animals are athletes and at the end of the day, they have a ton of dense muscle tissue with almost no marbling of fat. For that reason, the key with wild game is that you need to age it so that all of that muscle can break down, collagen can break down, and then you need to, if it’s not venison, you can brine it or marinate it.
My biggest thing is aging. I think that we undervalue it, and I think that makes the food taste so much better.
The trendy thing online these days is definitely “quick and easy” food and recipe videos. How do you feel about the way these meals are being prepared, as far as a processed or unhealthy factor goes? Do you think we can still keep pushing towards being self-sustaining and living off the land in light of these trends?
I think that there’s a draw toward fast food, but I think that food can still be fast and healthy. I just did a recent video series called “Georgia Pellegrini’s Cooking School for Men,” and it was recipes that you can make in 14 minutes or less that are easy and healthy. There’s even a recipe for venison in there.
I think that we need to become more comfortable in the kitchen, and not view food as a voyeuristic spectator sport, but as something that’s nourishing and part of a holistic existence. I think that there is an emphasis on speed and convenience, but I think that the more familiar we get with ourselves, we can find ways that we really can create dishes that are quick and easy, but also really nourishing. So I think that they can coexist, but it requires us to educate ourselves about what good food is, what healthy food is.
I’m also a big proponent of allowing pure ingredients to speak for themselves. A really simple, beautiful carrot that’s roasted with salt and olive oil can be the most magical thing you’ve ever tasted if it’s a carrot that was grown in a good way. I think that it’s really all about your ingredients. And that’s where wild game comes in, it’s as natural as you can get.
Is there anything that our readers may not know about you or your mission that you’d like them to?
Well, I’d love for them to look at all my cooking videos on YouTube, and also the Cooking School for Men videos are there. And as for my social media, what I love so much about my Facebook page, my Instagram, my Twitter, and even Pinterest really, is that a community has formed.
So many like-minded people are sharing information with each other, and they’re all living the same sort of life philosophy, so I would encourage people to plug into those social networks because I’ve been really blessed to have an audience that really has found each other on those platforms, and I contribute a lot of content that’s useful.