The more I’ve gotten into nutrition, the more I’ve realized the importance of having an actual connection to food.
The reason there are 10,000 different diets, with a new one coming out every day, is because the civilized human species has largely lost this connection, and this leads to all kinds of problems.
All food comes from what once were living creatures. Whether animal or plant, this is true. Understanding that life and having a connection to it is vitally important.
I grew up with all my food coming from the supermarket. I ate exclusively of things that I had no awareness of what sort of living things they came from (cereals, hot pockets, etc.).
Even as I started to eat healthier, I still didn’t know much.
Shortly, after I began to eat fruit (because I avoided them all pretty much completely as a child) I remember one time a friend asking me why some oranges had seeds and others did not. I had no clue at the time. (Now I know it’s because of hybridization and cloning through the process of grafting that fruits can be sterile.)
As I got into herbalism I began to develop relationships with specific plants and herbs that I used. I began to collect some myself out in the wild where they grew.
Over the past few years, I’ve continued down this path.
And more recently, my desire to build a solid connection with food has grown. This means wildcrafting, harvesting and hunting.
Unlike many people, until recently in adulthood, I had never done this. I never even really gardened, besides pulling weeds for a neighbor for some money when younger.
And just recently in fishing and crabbing.
Earlier in the year, I tried to do the same with salmon, but we came up empty. Fortunately, on this boating trip, we had far more luck.
I rented spots on a charter boat with a group of friends.
We left the harbor early in the morning. I was excited about this trip because we were not just fishing but crabbing too. And it was with the latter that we started, pulling up numerous baskets.
The deckhand did pretty much all the work, which was good because we were all complete newbies. One basket would contain five crabs. The next had nothing. And so on it went until there were 36 crabs we could bring home. (A few more came up, but were undersized and had to be thrown back.)
Some different baskets contained numerous shrimp, among some fish and slime eels that also had to be thrown back.
Most of us ate one of these raw shrimp on the boat as well. I’ve done that at sushi before, so why not straight from the ocean?
It turns out that on this particular charter boat, this was the best crabbing of the entire season, which had otherwise been quite poor. That felt good!
The fishing, however, was not so much. We did manage to catch a total of seven rockfish, which was below average. Still, I hadn’t had crab in some time so I was excited about that.
Many hours later we returned to the dock then went to my friend’s house to begin the next part of the day. One thing to know about catching or collecting food is that part is often the easier and shorter part. Processing the food often takes even more time.
We decided to keep the limited fish we had for another night and focus on the crab which we would process and cook all of in one go.
After looking up some Youtube videos on the topic (once again, all newbies at this) we laid out some buckets and bags outside and got to work. This involved ripping the carapace off the crab with bare hands, cleaning out some of the organs like the gills or lungs, and then breaking it in half.
Having been a vegetarian at one point in my life, now as an omnivore I also feel it is important to be willing and able to kill animals for food. The connection to life and death and willingness to partake in that killing.
That was step one of processing. Then we rinsed off all the crab parts, and separated each leg and cracked the shell.
Now it was ready to cook. We found the largest pot we could find (which still took lots of batches to get through everything), added in some spices and set them to boil.
We cooked the shrimp, without any pre-cleaning, in that same pot.
At long last the meal was ready. Along with a salad and corn, we had a great time.
And despite inviting other people over to enjoy the feast, there were plenty of leftovers. I still have lots of crab in my freezer waiting for another day. Also used the discarded shells, organs still inside, to make some crab stock.
It was a lot of work, but it was a good time, and I have a much better idea of what it takes to eat crab the next time I do so at a restaurant or picking it up from the butcher already cracked and cooked.
Despite the difficulties (did I mention I got seasick three times?) I would happily do it again.