How to Use ‘First-Hand Food’ to Get Outside (Tamar Haspel)

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Spend enough time outside and you’ll start to notice all of the things growing around you — and that some of those things look delicious. From greens to berries, to gardening, fishing and evening raising chickens, nature in your backyard can be full of food.

For today’s guest Tamar Haspel, the possibilities of gathering or growing at least a portion of her own meals, an experience she calls “first-hand food,” became the spark for a personal challenge to eat at least one thing she sourced herself each day for a year. In this episode Tamar talks about first-hand food, how growing and sourcing it connected her with spending time outside and how you can get started on a first-hand food journey, too.

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Some of the good stuff:

[2:41] Tamar Haspel’s favorite outdoor space
[3:47] How Tamar became someone who likes to go outside
[6:14] Tracking her first-hand food challenge
[8:10] Going from city-dweller to farmer
[9:33] Best and worst first-hand food experiences
[11:59] Why first-hand food is such an appealing idea
[14:17] Don’t be afraid of foraging, Amy
[17:54] How to balance first-hand food around the rest of your life
[19:43] Amy is a first-hand mooch
[25:07] How first-hand food has changed Tamar’s experience of nature
[27:41] Has it changed how she feels about her place in nature?
[31:23] Why first-hand food doesn’t have to be extreme
[32:52] Is there a middle ground and what is it?
[33:50] How to get help doing it
[38:32] Tips for getting started
[39:34] Tamar’s favorite outdoor gear
[40:33] Tamar’s favorite outdoor memory

Connect with this episode:

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation on The Humans Outside Podcast. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

Amy Bushatz: No matter who you are or where you go heading outside is always worth it. Welcome to Humans Outside where we’re using the Humans Outside 365 challenge to build a life around spending time in nature while learning from fascinating outdoor minded. I’m Amy Bushatz. I’ve let curiosity be my guide as a journalist for 18 years, but life, including my husband’s war injuries had burnt us out.

So we moved sight unseen to Alaska to see if a change of scenery and new focus on. Was just the shift we needed since September, 2017, I’ve spent at least 20 consecutive minutes outside every single day, no matter what to explore, how nature can change my life, ready to hear from experts and outdoor lovers who make heading into nature.

Just a part of who they are while we work to do the same. Let’s go.

If you’ve been spending a lot of time outside, you might’ve started to think about growing things. Those things could be flowers or even potted plants inside. Something many people took up at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, or you could be feeling more gutsy thinking about a vegetable garden or growing your own food.

You might also find yourself interested in foraging. After all spending enough time outside, and you’re going to start noticing berries growing on your walk, through the woods mushrooms and a whole array of wild things that look like they could be delicious. You’re going to start thinking about having a chicken coop and whether or not that’s a good idea, or that maybe fishing can’t possibly be as tedious as it seems. In short sourcing your own food by growing it or finding it might be a part of your lifestyle or could be soon, or maybe like me, you’re just source your own food curious.

Today’s guest Tamar Haspel has experience in all of those food sourcing stages. Her entertaining, and often hilarious new memoir to boldly grow looks at her journey from city dweller to source your own food fanatic. And since she started her journey to making it happen with a personal one-year challenge, something you all know, I can not get enough of, we know she’s going to have some great insights today on how we can start to source our own food to tomorrow. Tamar, welcome to Humans Outside.

Tamar Haspel: Thanks for having me, Amy. I’m glad to be talking to you.

Amy Bushatz: Can you start by telling us about your favorite outdoor space? We’d like to imagine ourselves with our guests wherever they are as if we’re having a conversation in their favorite outdoor space.

So if that was the case, where would we be with you today?

Tamar Haspel: Well, if we were having this conversation in my favorite outdoor space, you would be incredibly annoyed because the sound of the waves would interfere with uh, with our conversation, because I do think my favorite outdoor space is on the water. And since my husband and I moved to Cape Cod, which has a lot of water and world-class fishing that has become my favorite place much to my surprise, because I never would have guessed that I love to fish, but there it is.

Amy Bushatz: Well as I mentioned, fishing could be seen as tedious by some people who are me, but who knows? That could change.

Tamar Haspel: Well, wait, there, let me clarify. Fishing is tedious, but catching is more exciting that it has any right to be.

Amy Bushatz: That’s that is a fair assessment. And with my limited fishing shared experience, I can testify that that seems true. And I’ve never been annoyed by wave. So I think this is a fine place to talk by the way. That’s not a thing. Okay. So talk to us, give us your background. How did you become someone who likes to go outside? Cause this has been quite a journey.

Tamar Haspel: It was a total accident. I’m a city person and it didn’t, to some extent, I, I still am a city person. I was living on the upper west side of Manhattan when I met my husband. And then we lived together on the upper west side of Manhattan for a number of years. And I did my job, which was to write about food. I wrote about, things that other people were doing with food. Mostly the new nutrition point of view. I wrote a lot for women’s magazines and then we decided, well, it was mostly an accident. I can’t really say we decided um, we ended up moving to Cape Cod. And we traded in our one bedroom, upper west side apartment for this little tiny house on two acres of woods bordering a lake. And it was, it was 180 degrees.

You know, I started looking around and saying, okay, well I’m a food writer. What can I do on Cape Cod that I couldn’t do in Manhattan? And the answer was all kinds of things. And, and I don’t know that I ever would have made the move or started doing these things um, except for my husband, Kevin, who had some outdoor experience and who had grown up fishing and knew something about gardening. But because we were in it together, I figured, okay, well, let’s see, what can we do here?

I got kind of captivated by what we could grow food wise at our house. And then the next thing I’d decided, okay, well I think maybe backyard chickens are in our future. And, and one day I said to him, honey, do you think we can eat something we get firsthand, whether we grow or gather hunter fish every single day.

And Kevin is like, totally can do when he’s madly supportive of everything that I do. And he goes: not a chance. I’m like, who are you? And what have you done with Kevin? And he’s like, well, we could spend a year preparing and then we could do it next year. And I’m like, naw, next, you’ll be telling me we should read the instructions.

This is not the husband I know. And so I did talk them around, but I will say that first year the first, because we started this in January and there ain’t not much to eat in January, so we, we still refer to it as our winter of shellfish, but we were off to the races.

Amy Bushatz: So how long have you been doing this now? Do, do you still eat something that you source every day?

Tamar Haspel: No, we don’t keep track of it anymore. And so it’s not, not every day and in the summer definitely is every day. And actually in the winter, it mostly is too, because this stuff has just become a part of our life. But I actually tracked it for I don’t know, 5, 6, 7 years. We did it for a long time and it got to be so interesting because that challenge and let’s face it, any challenge like that is a little bit gimmicky, and, but the point of it is that it pushes you to try stuff, to try new things that you might not do if you didn’t have this challenge in your head, and I’m sure that probably happened to you too, didn’t it?

Amy Bushatz: Oh yeah. Yeah. And, and so I’m on, let’s see, I started in 2017. So that puts me over four years. Cause it was in September. And I still do keep track mostly because I do find that there are days in the winter time or when it’s very, very unpleasant outside that if I didn’t keep track of it, I probably wouldn’t be outside for the amount of time that I want to be, because I don’t like it.

Tamar Haspel: So, right. So. The structure and this, this box that you want to tick every day, it makes you think about it and it makes you get creative.

Amy Bushatz: Exactly. Exactly. So, you know, we talked about how this did start with a one-year challenge. And you said you, you moved there sort of on purpose sort of, by accident, but how do you go from living in an apartment in New York City, which is where you are growing tomatoes on your roof, you said in your book to grow, sourcing your own food every day in, Cape Cod and spoiler alert, you are, you have in the past and currently do own an oyster farm. That’s a big jump. So.

Tamar Haspel: It is a big jump. But it made me like the world’s number one, proponent of doing something completely different in middle age. And when Kevin and I moved to Cape Cod, we were in our forties and that’s a time of life when it’s so easy to just keep doing what you’re doing. And we decided we were just going to do something else and at that, I mean, it’s always great to be on the steep part of the learning curve, but it’s, it’s particularly great to be on the steep part of the learning curve at a time in your life when like your powers are beginning to decline and to be getting better at stuff is so gratifying.

And I found that what was great about doing a U-turn was that it was a U-turn was that it was completely opposite. And I started doing things that just had not only had I not done, they hadn’t been on my radar and, and it ended up being this joyful positive, satisfying experience and I kind of hope that’s what comes through in the book.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. So, okay. You have to tell us about your firsthand food experiences. W we’ll get here to advice for people who want to do this, but I got to know what were your most delicious, but also most terrible because there has to be terrible.

Tamar Haspel: Oh, there’s terrible ones. And this is the thing about what we’ve taken to call firsthand food stuff you get with your own two hands. Like whenever I ask somebody, Okay, what the fish you caught or the tomato you grew or the mushroom you foraged or whatever it is, does that feel different to you than other food? And every single person says, yes, it totally feels different from other food. And, and then the question becomes why?

And sometimes it’s more delicious than other food. I’ve had wild mushrooms that I’ve forged that are way better than anything you can buy in the grocery store. But who among us, hasn’t grown the woody green bean, you know, or, you know, the misshapen scarred Asian pear and, and, or the fish that let’s face it is not the most delicious fish in the sea, but the thing that makes this food compelling isn’t the deliciousness, it’s the first handedness it’s that you’re invested in it. And so, yes, we’ve had things that are totally delicious and definitely fish, because you don’t realize the difference between fish that you just pick out of the ocean versus fish you get in the market until like you get to actually compare them side by side.

Like I said, the mushrooms and we all know that the summertime tomatoes still warm from the garden are the most delicious things, but um, oh, I caught an eel once. And it was one of the few meals that I actually had to throw away. It was terrible. And I’m sure that was like my fault, but it was,

Amy Bushatz: You don’t sound sure that it was your fault.

Tamar Haspel: No, no, you’re right. I’m not a hundred percent but I’m a decent cook and that is literally the only meal in memory that I had to throw away. And yes, we’ve had some substandard produce. And if you have ever tried to like forage for wild greens and put purslane in your salad, you know it is not the most delicious thing going. And so we have definitely had some suboptimal experiences, but the weird thing is. The satisfaction is the same.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. It’s almost as if your standard for what you’ll tolerate changes because you are having an emotional connection to it?

Tamar Haspel: I think that’s probably true. And I mean, think about as humans, we have this primordial need to feed ourselves in our families. This is, you know, sex and food, those are the two things that we’re programmed to pursue. And so when you actually go outside and pursue them personally, in that evolutionary sense, I think it, it scratches a brainstem level itch, and that’s why it’s so satisfying.

Amy Bushatz: I um, have very limited experience with foraging. It’s just not something that I have taken the time to learn how to do, because I feel like it’s probably not a good idea just go wandering in the world without some education. Sounds risky, especially when we start talking about things like mushrooms and berries and I just haven’t, haven’t taken the time to it.

But my limited experience is with some berries that grow in the woods around us, one of which is the highbush cranberry. And for those who’ve never experienced it. It has a very pungent smell. It smells like people describe it, it smells like stinky socks. It’s sort of like a um, well, I mean, that’s really the only way to describe it.

So stinky sockesque. It’s very, it can be very, very tart people make jams out of it. Anytime you encounter it, berry that does not taste very good, by itself, the best way to remedy that is with a lot of sugar. So that’s, so that’s what people do. I have, however, made fruit leather from it. I found that to be an, a lot of work. And yeah.

Tamar Haspel: Let me ask you then, how did you feel about that fruit leather versus other fruit leather?

Amy Bushatz: Right, so I felt great about it and the reason I felt great about it is because I made it.

Tamar Haspel: That’s right. So, and so you know exactly what I’m talking about and I am going to encourage you because you spend all your time outside to look around for other outdoor edible projects and do not be afraid because you think you need some level of expertise to do this, especially with mushrooms. And I get why that is, the upside is a tasty side dish and the downside is an excruciating death. And so you don’t want to take the risks.

Amy Bushatz: It’s a really broad spread of possibilities.

Tamar Haspel: Right. But if you, if you actually take a look, there are a handful of delicious edible, common mushrooms that have no deadly lookalikes that you’re completely safe taking. And you will, they are so much better than cultivated mushrooms. They have, they have a very particular flavor and it’s very delicious and, berries, you got to look them up, you gotta know what you’re eating. But greens, if it’s poisonous, it’s going to taste so bad you don’t want to eat it anyway.

So there’s a whole chapter in the book about forging and why, you know, be not afraid, go out, give it a shot.

Amy Bushatz: It’s um, you know, on the highbush cranberries thing, the other thing was that I never would have bought fruit leather made from that ever. So it’s almost as if my tolerance for having something tastes natural is different when I’m, first-hand fooding it as opposed to buy something in store where we have this expectation that it’s flavored and it’s sweet and then it’s processed or salted or whatever. Do you find that to be true as well?

Tamar Haspel: Oh, absolutely it, you know, when it’s a plant or an animal, it jibes with our sense of what food ought to be. I mean, plants and animals are the foods that humans evolved to eat, these are, these are our natural diet. , And you know, because we live in the modern world I think that our, our very basic sense of what food is, has shifted from plants and animals in, you know, in the boxes and bags direction. And one of the great things about first-hand food is that I think it does bring your pendulum back for exactly that reason you had with the, because you have the sense of, okay, this is a plant I found, this is a food that I made. This is the food that people eat and, and it kind of recalibrates you in a way. Um, And you know, you, you still can’t leave me alone with Doritos, but it’s not, those kinds of foods are not the things that I put on the table for my family. They just don’t even feel like food to me. And I think that’s what going out and getting dirty can do for you and your sense of food?

Amy Bushatz: Yes. The elusive Doritos plant. Hmm. Not, not so much. Huh?

Tamar Haspel: I would totally plant one. If there was one.

Amy Bushatz: Hey humans did you know, you can officially join the Humans Outside 365 challenge and score some really cool and exclusive challenge swag, including a finisher metal and decal on Humans forward slash challenge. You’ll also get an outdoor challenge guide written by me for you. An exclusive challenge tracker and insider info all year long. You don’t want to be left out of this. There is never a wrong time to join the Humans Outside 365 challenge. So get going, join it today. Go to to learn more now. Now, back to the show.

Sort of delving into my own hesitancy on this comes back to the amount of work that it is. So I’m wondering if you experienced, as you were doing this challenge, the, a cost benefit to that work and how you balance that around the rest of your lifestyle, because growing things takes time, period, end of story.

Tamar Haspel: Absolutely. And all of these things take time and, a couple of things. First, everybody has different constraint in their life. My husband and I happen to have extremely flexible jobs. Our kids are grown up. We, we like to eat everything. Um, we’re fortunate enough to have enough financial resources so that we can do things like, you know, buy the equipment necessary for some of the larger projects.

And you have, if you’re going to do this, you obviously have to find the project that fits your time, your preferences, your finances and all of these other things. But the other thing about it is that you I have to like it, it can’t feel like a chore. And this was one of the things that was surprising to me is that yeah, some of the things we do eat up a huge amount of time, and one of them fishing also takes up a lot of money. Um, and we do it because we love it. And we find that this is how we want to spend our time and our resources. I, frankly, don’t spend a whole lot of time gardening because it’s not my favorite thing.

We also have crap for soil here. And so, you know, we have a few raised beds where where we, we plant things, but my garden isn’t huge. And because that’s not my top priority, we can’t grow a lot of great vegetables and I don’t particularly enjoy gardening. We do have world-class fishing and I do enjoy fishing, so that’s how we divide it. But I know a lot of people who really enjoy it, it’s sort of cathartic to go out and play in the dirt and to grow things. So the great thing about first-hand food is that there’s so many options that you pick the one that speaks to you and fit in with your life.

Amy Bushatz: I think I’m a first-hand mooch.

Tamar Haspel: I’m familiar with your type, but one of the things about first-hand food is that there, it, it gives rise to this bartering economy. You know, we trade eggs cause we have, we grow, we get way more eggs and we can ever eat. We trade them for all kinds of things. We try them for tomato seedlings, for asparagus, for a homemade jam, you name it for a bag of fertilizer. And, and it’s actually one of the fun things about this. I mean, you laugh about being a mooch, but we’re all mooches at heart. And, and one of the things about doing this is that it ties you in with your community in just that way. You get connected to other people who are doing things like this, and you can enjoy their firsthand food almost as much as you enjoy your own.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, I have a radar. I hone in on the friend with the overflowing garden and, and not on purpose, but they know.

Tamar Haspel: Oh you know it’s on purpose.

Amy Bushatz: Well, it’s our purpose now. But initially she just knew the one friend in particular knew that I enjoy fresh vegetables and we’ll eat pretty much anything. And so when she had too much of you name it, because of course in Alaska, you start with this idea that nothing will ever grow because it hasn’t been light for 15 years. And then you plant all of your seedlings. It’s this big to do, you have to have a um, in your book, you describe having a sort of, sort of greenhouse situation covered for your seedlings in your home. And this is times a million and for months longer because you’re in Alaska.

So it becomes this big to-do to do this, and then you plant everything and then. What seems like against all odds in March, but actually it happens the same way every year, it explodes. And now you have vegetables the size of your head, and then some, rutabaga coming out your ears, no one can eat this much rutabaga. So now you’re trying to find somebody to give it to, and that someone is me.

Tamar Haspel: So there was a uh, a food columnist at the New York Times for many years, her name is Molly O’Neill and she wrote a column. This is I probably going back 25 years, maybe longer. And she wrote a column about how she lives in a small town and nobody ever locks their cars except during zucchini season, because you come and you find your car filled with zucchini and yeah, no. And that’s the thing about, about first-hand food, whether it’s gardening or hunting. I mean, you have none at all until the very moment where you have much too much, and it’s all about strategies for managing that.

Amy Bushatz: And you feel because of that emotional connection we were talking about earlier, you feel like you cannot possibly just toss this, if you had some sort of, carrot bag of carrots in your fridge that you bought at the grocery store, and then they started looking sad or you weren’t gonna eat them into the compost or trash pile they go, but this is not to be abided.

Tamar Haspel: You never want to waste something, something you’re invested in. You do not want to waste it. So, I think this is a, it’s another sort of the, I hate to use the word lesson, cause it sounds so didactic. But here we are, a third of the food that comes into our food supply gets wasted and, and this is a way to appreciate food waste because all of a sudden you’re not just wasting the food you’re wasting all of the time and the effort that went into it. And most of the time when we eat, it’s somebody else’s time and effort. But when it’s yours, it gives you a new perspective.

Amy Bushatz: That’s right. I, I will say that we fished, we went ice fishing and we caught a lot of I don’t even remember what kind of fish they weren’t very good. And then they took up a lot of room in my freezer and nobody in my house wanted to eat them.

So we actually ended up donating them to another previous podcasts, guests um, Kristy and Anna Barrington who raised dogs and the Iditarod and their dogs, they don’t care what kind of fish you have.

Tamar Haspel: So fabulous. Well, even if you don’t have a dog team running in the Iditarod you can have a chicken coop and they do some of the same work. So there, you know, when food is, is really beyond rescuing, we will turn it into eggs and, and it’s very easy to do it. Yeah. So, and I love that alchemy where animals turn waste into food. It it’s really wonderful.

Amy Bushatz: But to your point, I could not abide the idea of just tossing it. Like it wasn’t even an option. I can’t throw this out. Bec ause then it’s like this time we spent fishing flash before my eyes,

Tamar Haspel: And all the fish that died.

Amy Bushatz: And all the fish that died, right. Right, right. Exactly. And I may have, we could have thrown that back if we weren’t gonna eat it, why it on and on and on. And so now these who I’ve never met them, but I assume a very entertaining and skilled dog team has been fed for probably about four seconds considering how much fish I gave them that sort of a marvel, but that’s how dogs work. So what do you know?

Tamar Haspel: That’s excellent. I’m so glad you found a use for it.

Amy Bushatz: So, how has the concept of firsthand food changed how you experience broader nature beyond the garden, beyond , or the act of fishing? How has the experience changed that.

Tamar Haspel: Because I’m always got my eye on the main chance everywhere we go, I’m thinking about, can eat that. And, and it’s funny because it affected me when I started getting food for us, but it also affected me when we first had pigs and pigs love acorns. And here in the Northeast, we are just overrun with acorns. And that was the first time I started, I would see an acorn and I would start thinking, yeah, huh, food. Rather than huh acorn. And so we collected a lot of acorns for the pigs and the when we had turkeys a couple of times, they like acorns too. But then I actually tried turning the acorns into human food, which you can definitely do, but it was one of those things that was only marginally delicious and was a lot of work. So we didn’t, we haven’t done that one again, but, but, and like, it sounds so I don’t know food focused to say, I go out in the world and I am constantly looking for things you can eat, but there you have it.

Amy Bushatz: I feel like that’s the same, no matter what challenge you’re doing, it’s just a different focus. So, if you are somebody who like me is just trying to spend time outside every day, I’ve always got an eyeball on is there a nearby park? What is the weather going to be the best and sort of comfort focused in a lot of ways or perhaps activity focused. I have friends and we’ve had someone on the podcast before who runs a program called a 1,000 Hours Outside, and they, she encourages families to spend as the title suggests a thousand hours outside every year. Well, if your goal is a big number like that, you are always looking for a way to go outside to do whatever it is you’re doing, not inside your house and, and be outside and maximize those nights. When I try to go camping for a certain number of each summer I always sort of set a loose goal so that I can not wuss out on a rainy night and stick to the plan. I’m always looking for, okay, I mean, but could we turn that into a camping night? How’s that Friday look? And so it’s, it’s this idea that you’re aware of whatever’s in your consciousness?

Tamar Haspel: Yeah, no, I think that that’s true. I would say that like, when we started this challenge, it was more than a lark, but not much more, but then it worms its way into your consciousness in surprising ways.

Amy Bushatz: How has it changed how you feel about your place in nature?

Tamar Haspel: I don’t think much about my place in nature. It’s not, I know a lot of people do and there’s a, there’s a chapter in the book about hunting. And hunting for deer often involves sitting in one place for a long time, not listening to an audio book, which is what I always do when I’m outside and, and people who write about hunting and being in nature in that way talk about the satisfaction of just being in the world and experiencing yourself as part of nature. But I’m like, how can you think about that when, like, I’m thinking about whether I need to scrub the bathtub or, you know, are the property taxes due? Is that a deer tick? And so I don’t, these, I joke about how I’m like the anti Wendell Berry, who does not appreciate my place in nature whatsoever. And I think that sometimes people might feel an obligation to think about their place in nature, but I don’t think we have that obligation. I think you can just enjoy yourself.

Amy Bushatz: We not to keep referring to past guests, but I find that so many of them relate to this particular subject. I interviewed a gentleman named Michael Easter who wrote a book called the Comfort Crises.

Tamar Haspel: He’s a friend of mine.

Amy Bushatz: Okay, So you, so you know, Michael and you know his book on comfort and how he came up here to Alaska and he went.

Tamar Haspel: That’s right he hunted the caribou.

Amy Bushatz: He hunted the caribou, and he talks about the experience of being bored in nature in this book. And one of that, you know, that touchstones is going hunting in the middle of nowhere where there’s like, literally nothing going on and how he exhausted all reading material to the point that he had read and contemplated the Cliff Bar ingredients several times.

Tamar Haspel: Right the toilet paper wrapper, you’re desperate.

Amy Bushatz: Yes. Yes. And that once he got over this hump of being board that he had, it’s not so much that he experienced his place in nature so much as he felt a um, a release and an ability to embrace where he was and what he was doing um, in a way that, I mean, I certainly can’t do,

Tamar Haspel: I can’t either, and I love Michael Easter and I think the Comfort Crisis is a terrific book and people should really read it. And I, I actually blurbed it for him. And what I, my first like thought reading the book, and I think this is what I said in the blurb that it doesn’t make me want to go to Alaska and stay 30 days in subfreezing temperatures to hunt a caribou, but it’s close, it’s like, it does make me want to get out of my comfort zone.

And I think he had a really interesting experience. But it was very extreme and, and I am I’m a lot tamer than Michael Easter. And, and I think, you know, I’m writing more about experiences that aren’t so extreme and that can fit in and dovetail with an ordinary life.

Amy Bushatz: I mean, I’m a pretty extreme person and I live in Alaska and his book also did not make me want to do that. So I don’t think that’s an uncommon reaction. But I like how you’re I like this idea of a more ordinary life, because, because what you’re, what you’re suggesting and this, I, you know, on-ramp for firsthand food. Isn’t that ordinary

Tamar Haspel: Well, I mean, people think of, of these activities and there’s not even a name, a collective name for them. I had to make one up. I had to invent firsthand food because there wasn’t a category. People think of this as like homesteading. And that’s a lifestyle and it’s a lifestyle that doesn’t particularly interest me if this is what you want to do power to you. But I think that people like partition this off in their mind to something that’s radical, something that you have to go all in.

And one of the messages of the book, and one of the things I’ve found out is that no, this can fit in with other things you do, it can be ordinary recreation. You can go fishing the way you play tennis or whatever it happens to be. And anybody can go out in the woods and go foraging. And, and there’s not this high bar that you have to get over with, you know, time and expertise and ideological commitment.

None of that is necessary. You want to try something, just roll up your sleeves and give it a whirl. And there’s, this is in a lot of ways, the book is about taking a flyer. Nobody’s going to die on the table and eat just. Give it a shot.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. So I guess that brings us to, to our next question. And I’m wondering if you can give me some examples of what this would be, but a middle ground for people who don’t love to garden or grow, like basically me.

Tamar Haspel: Totally, totally, there’s a million things.

Amy Bushatz: But you want this benefit. So, so give some examples.

Tamar Haspel: Get the little hydroponic herb garden that sits on the window sill. Get the mushroom kit where you just add water. And then in seven days you get mushrooms um, uh, a food writer named Kat Kinsman wrote this wonderful piece about growing a lemon tree indoors. If you’re not sure what you want to do, take your kid, go for a walk in the woods, pick the mushrooms and come back and get a, get a mushroom guide book out of the library and compare and see what you’ve got. There’s like zero bar to entry on these things, you do not have to commit yourself.

Amy Bushatz: I’m wondering too about if somebody wanted to take classes or something like this, I don’t know about this in other places I know it’s true in rural locations, but local farm extension um, might have classes that could be helpful. Is that true in other spots too?

Tamar Haspel: And the great thing about that is that it’s going to be local people who understand your local conditions. And, you know, you can read books about gardening, and if you read books about gardening, you know I’m not lying, different experts will tell you different things. And you’re like, all right, where does that leave me? The people we learned the most from were local successful gardeners. When we got here, we, we joined the Cape Cod organic gardeners, and we learned so much from our neighbors. And those same neighbors became part of this barter economy. And some of them became very good friends. And so, yeah, reaching out to other people who are interested in this is a great way to introduce yourself to it. And to start being part of the network and the community, which is part of the fun.

Amy Bushatz: And I know you talked about this in your book, but no one in my experience, no one is more enthusiastic about sharing and teaching something than somebody who has just a, a hobby level love for it. Uh, and I find that true in, for example, the skiing community, all of our volunteer ski instructors are simply people who really like to ski and who have made a lifestyle out of this. And when I entered pie into the fair. I entered something in this year for the first time ever and it was.

Tamar Haspel: Did you really? What kind of pie, what kind of pie?

Amy Bushatz: Okay. It was a um, we call them, we calling them huckleberries. I think technically they’re just frozen wild blueberries, and I did not pick them. But it’s a family recipe. And so I took this pie to the fair. And you would’ve thought that I had arrived on some sort of a float waving and smiling the way these ladies receive me uh, in the fair. Oh my gosh, she’s a first time exhibitor. Guys, did you hear she’s a first time exhibitor? And they gave me my entrance card and it was very, there’s a lot of fanfare and excitement for Tuesday afternoon. And I feel like this is the same level of enthusiasm people who love any hobby and who have immersed their life in it habits.

Tamar Haspel: Tell me that wasn’t a wonderful experience.

Amy Bushatz: Oh, it’s so great. I feel like I’m a rockstar.

Tamar Haspel: Right exactly. It’s awesome. When you try something new and then you get to know the people who have been doing it all their lives and they’re like, yay. Another one. And it’s, you accomplish something and it’s so gratifying. I’m glad you did that.

Amy Bushatz: Well, I had to go to the fair, at least twice to visit my pie, first of all, well, it hadn’t changed by the way uh, And I did win a second place, it was award-winning pie. Unclear how many people entered the pie category.

Tamar Haspel: It doesn’t matter. You are an award-winning pie baker from now until all eternity.

Amy Bushatz: I’m going with it. I really am.

Tamar Haspel: You totally go with it.

Amy Bushatz: But yeah, it was a great experience. And, and what it taught me was that, or reminded me that if you step outside your comfort zone a little bit, do something new, but ask for help in the process that there’s a world of people who have this as a, as a love who are just sort of waiting to welcome you to their thing.

Tamar Haspel: And we, we got help with everything we did. And, I think it’s especially true of things like fishing, which is so very local. And not all fishermen are very forthcoming about their secret spots. We definitely had a lot of help from people who’ve been fishing, these waters, all their wife, and that’s one of the reasons we got better at it. And now we practice what I call fishing it forward. So, when strangers come to our neck of the woods, we try and help them. And then when we go someplace else, we hope other people are fishing it forward and will help us.

Amy Bushatz: Have you ever tried to hire a guide for any of these? Um, that’s not as relatable for something like this, but I’m thinking like when I do something new outside the first time I will sometimes hire an instructor or hire a guide to literally in some instances, show me the ropes.

Tamar Haspel: I think that’s a great approach, but no, we’ve, we’ve never done that. We always just put down our phones, little upper sleeves and the head outside. It’s just, it’s in our DNA. Although I will say it’s a lot easier to be able to do that because we have YouTube. And. You can learn to do anything on YouTube. And we learned to do a lot of things on YouTube. So we tend to look at what other people are doing.

Like when we first designed a chicken coop, we looked at a million chicken coop designs. Who’s doing what with chicken coops, how do we want to do ours? How many chickens, how big does it have to be? What shape, what do we do?

And we then we just bought the lumber and built the chicken coop.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. So you’ve talked about just going out and doing it, starting small, asking for help. Do you have any other steps or tips for people who want to make this firsthand food concept, a part of how they experience nature and life?

Tamar Haspel: If you want it, it’s going to be super easy for you. If you don’t want it, then maybe you shouldn’t do it and not everybody does. And I hope that some people read the book and, and can appreciate other people’s interest in this. And maybe some funny stories without wanting to go outside and, and do something themselves. Because I mean, it goes back to what you were saying before about, about fitting this into, into a busy life when it’s a lot of work. You have to want to do. And if you do, there’s, there’s a million ways to dip your toe in the water.

Amy Bushatz: So we usually end our episodes by talking to our guests about their favorite outdoor gear, or whatever that means for whatever hobby or pursuit you have. So what is something that you use for this, that you just love?

Tamar Haspel: Well, I’m glad you can’t go into our garage, but somewhere in that garage, is, is uh, uh, a fishing rod that I am particularly fond of. And it’s not a super fancy expensive one. It’s a, it’s a Shakespeare Ugly Stik with a Shimano Baitrunner reel on it. And I have caught so many fish on that rod and I have fed so many people um, that it has, it has earned my affection.

Amy Bushatz: Very good. It’s has a personal, emotional connection. It doesn’t have to be beautiful.

Tamar Haspel: Absolutely.

Amy Bushatz: Finally, if you’re going to walk us out of here with a favorite outdoor moment as if you were imagining somewhere that you just a moment in time that you loved and that you like to harken back to would you mind walking us out with that and where are you and what are you doing?

Tamar Haspel: You know, it actually doesn’t have anything to do with food.

Amy Bushatz: That’s fair.

Tamar Haspel: When my husband and I were together, I don’t even think we were married. And uh, we went through a really, really tough time, right after 9/11, it affected both of our lives in profound ways. And we were reeling financially. We were reeling emotionally. And we were living in New York and, and we, we went out of town and we went up to a Lake Minnewaska and we hiked, we hiked a long way. We hiked 10, 11, 12 miles, something like that. And it was the fall and it was beautiful. And I remember standing on a hill top and looking out at the changing colors and feeling like we were the only people for miles around and we both had this feeling that it’s going to be okay. We’re going to be fine.

And we were. And I think that the outdoors has that ability to, to reset your stress levels, to reset your expectations, to take you out of the things that maybe are difficult for you. Make you think about something else for a while. And then sometimes when you go back to your real life, it’s with a slightly different perspective. And I think that that’s, that’s one of the reasons first-hand food was so powerful for me.

Amy Bushatz: Tamar, thank you so much for sharing your new book To Boldly Grow with us today on Humans Outside. We sure appreciate your expertise and insight.

Tamar Haspel: Thanks Amy for having me, it was a pleasure to talk to you.

Amy Bushatz: Thanks so much for listening to this week’s episode of Humans Outside. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, give us a little love and leave a rating and review to make it easier for others to find the podcast too. What you say matters. It really truly does make a difference. And until next time we’ll see you out there.

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