Rob Greenfield at Yale – Breaking Free from the Broken Food System

Rob Greenfield speaks to the students and community at Yale University at the Yale Farm October 2nd 2022. Rob shares his powerful awakening and how he broke free from the oppressive, exploitative food system that most of us get our food from today.

Through personal stories of his year of growing and foraging 100% of his food and his recent month of foraging 100% of his food, he shares his insights on how we can come together as a community to create food sovereignty. We can break free. Millions of people are doing it. Regenerative, equitable and just food systems are not only possible, they already exist!

Inspired to break free? Get Rob’s new book: Food Freedom

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Rob Greenfield is an activist and humanitarian dedicated to leading the way to a more sustainable and just world. He embarks on extreme projects to bring attention to important global issues and inspire positive change. 100% of his media income is donated to grassroots nonprofits.
His YouTube channel is a source to educate, inspire and help others to live more sustainable, equal and just lives. Videos frequently cover sustainable living, simple living, growing your own food, gardening, self-sufficiency, minimalism, off the grid living, zero waste, living in a tiny house and permaculture.

Find Rob Greenfield on:
Instagram: @RobJGreenfield
Twitter: @RobJGreenfield

Well I think I want to start with a Question that I started to ask myself About five years ago And that was is it possible to break Free from the global industrial food System And that question started In the back of my mind really about 10 Years ago in 2011. I was living a very Typical in many ways you know U.S American lifestyle that was very focused On the American dream I had a goal of being a millionaire by The time I was 30 I was very focused on Material wealth and you know Material possessions and financial Wealth and I was not paying attention to My food where it came from how it got to Me what the impact it had on the earth Or another species of plants and animals I was just kind of pursuing what I saw As the American dream And what happened is I learned by Starting to watch a lot of documentaries And read a lot of books that this American dream that I was living was Actually the world's nightmare That almost everything that I was doing Was causing destruction to the Earth the Food that I was eating the car I was Driving the cheap junk I was buying the Trash that I was creating The gas I was pumping into my car the Places that I had my money invested

The bank that I had my money in Even the water that I was drinking was Being pumped across a desert where half Of it was Evaporating or running into the desert And you know the Colorado River was Literally running dry So even every drink of water that I was Taking was causing destruction And so I I learned that my whole life was was Causing destruction and a big part of That was my food that was like one of my Big wake-up calls early on I learned That I was consuming the planet with Every bite that I took And so early on in 2011 when I decided I Decided I was going to change my life I Decided I was going to transform my life And try to live in a way that didn't Cause So much destruction and so one step at a Time I started to take my life back from Corporate control from Societal norms and stigmas that I was Living my life based on from living a Life with that honestly in many ways was Based on lies and ideas that had been Sold to me And a big part of that was was taking Back my my food and and what I was Putting in my body and so over a period Of two years I started to transform my

Life just one positive step at a time From little things like you know Ditching the Disposable items and using Reusable items instead to not going to Walmart and getting all my stuff there And instead supporting local businesses To you know going to the local food Co-op and buying unpackaged unprocessed Foods instead of all the processed Junk food that I was buying Starting to ride my bicycle more and Drive the car less Starting to connect with my community And live a less individualistic life Um Starting to you know find ways to meet My basic needs for human connection Through giving back rather than through You know partying and binge drinking and Things like this and so over a period of A couple years I really started to just Transform my life one positive step at a Time and by doing that what I had done Is I made a goal of just making one Positive change per week and by doing That for two years I made over a hundred Positive changes So imagine if tomorrow you woke up and You were doing a hundred things Differently than you are today you know The clothes that you're wearing many of The friends that you have the places That you're going the food they're Eating the smells on your body from you

Know changing your your products Many of the words that you're saying you Know imagine if Tomorrow you woke up and you were doing A hundred different things differently You might not even recognize yourself But by doing it one step at a time I was Able to take my life back and to Transform my life and so that's what I Did For about five years And during that time I started to do Activism activism that was designed to To Catch people's attention to to shake Things up to help get people out of Their sleepy State and activism that was Designed to reach mainstream media to be Able to be You know on the mainstream TV and news Stations and magazines and Be able to bring messages of Reconnecting to the Earth to people who Really potentially haven't even thought About it before And so that came through projects like Biking across the country on a bamboo Bike trying to have no negative impact Or living in you know a 50 square foot Tiny house Off the Grid in the city Or Landing in Central America with no Money and having to travel back on the Kindness of others to show that actually Most people are good contrary to the

Mainstream narrative that we should live In fear of our Global Neighbors And so that was about five or six years Of personal change and transformation as Well as activism and then That's the background that leads to this Question that I want to talk about today Which is is it possible to step away From our Global industrial food system And that was a question like I said in The back of Mind At the beginning but I Didn't dive into that until 2017. it was December of 2017 and I Decided that I was going to for one year See if I could grow and forage a hundred Percent of my food nothing packaged or Processed nothing shipped long distances Not spending any money on food just all Of my food coming from my own garden That I'm growing or That's growing freely and abundantly by Nature And just one little side note I still Use the word nature because it's an easy One to understand but of course we are Nature and everything is nature But it's just a simple way of saying Rather than the garden what is growing Freely from the earth Without You Know My Own domestication And so that's what I decided to do to Set out on this on this journey and see If it was possible and I decided to do it for a couple of

Reasons one I personally just wanted to Break free from the global industrial Food system from eating my food in a way That was consuming the planet and I Wanted to reconnect with my food and see Where it comes from and what it takes to Meet all of my own nutritional needs Down to you know the calories the fat The protein the herbs and spices the Medicines the salt I wanted to you know Experience all of that as Raleigh and You know Hands-On as I possibly could But I also Wanted to take other people on the Journey with me and show people that it Is possible because when I decided that I was going to do this I was pretty sure That I was gonna do it So I Had a couple big problems though or Let's say problems to work through and That is one I had no land of my own most People would imagine if you're gonna Grow and forage all your food you might Have a you know big plot of land or at Least a little plot of land to actually Grow food but I had no land whatsoever In fact I arrived in Orlando just You know basically ready to start the Project and had never Well that was my other next problem Besides not owning any land I was Showing up in a place where I had never Grown anything before and never foraged

I had fished and maybe picked up a Coconut or two on visits to Florida but I was going to a new environment Where I had never grown anything But more so than that I had grown almost Nothing ever So when I lived in San Diego California That's where my transition began from 2011 to into 2016. I had two small Raised beds about four by four so like The size of one of these tables total And I grew a few things like tomatoes And greens and things like that And In the house before I had one raised bed And then before that it was you know my Mom's Garden when I was a little kid and Oh I had volunteered on some Gardens and Things like that but basically I had Very little experience growing food Either So I was really kind of starting from Scratch so when I got to Orlando What I did is I put out the word and I Said Well I'm looking to grow food in People's yards I chose to live in a Neighborhood called Audubon Park because There's a couple non-profits that were Really focused there there was Orlando Permaculture and then Fleet Farming and With Fleet Farming they actually turned People's front yards into little Farmlets and then they sold that food

Locally so there was already a bit of a Culture of front yard gardening there And then through Orlando permaculture I Had already met a lot of permaculturists With uh you know who had turned some of Their yards into food forests So it wasn't a completely foreign idea To people around there the idea of Growing a lot of food But you know 90 Probably 99 of the Yards in Orlando were You know grass So I put out the word and I said hey I'm I'm looking for people that would like Their front yard turned into a garden in An exchange I will Share all the food with you so you get a Garden you get to eat food and your lawn Will be gone if you're no longer Interested in having a lawn and so that Was how I solved the whole not having Any land And over the period of about six months I turned six front yards into Gardens All within about a mile and a half so I Could bike to all of them because most Most of my work was done on bicycle I Had a big trailer as well to be able to Carry things around And I started just turning Lawns into Gardens with a very simple process which Was laying down cardboard Then laying down mulch which is just Trees that had been cut down by

Landscaping companies and then chipped Up into wood chips And I got that for free because that's a Waste product of that industry And then getting some compost and soil Some plants some seeds and then my other Ingredients were water and the Sun And that's how I started my Gardens and The first Garden that I grew it cost me About six hundred dollars and within a Few months it was already producing more Than six hundred dollars of the food per Month So that's how I started and what I did Um Is Well when I started like I said the Other problem I had is that I had very Little experience and so I started off Just going to the internet and typing in Questions like how much water do you put On a kale seed or how much sunlight do Carrots need and I was just looking up Each plant just trying to figure it out One by one But what I quickly started to do is I Would go to the local Community Gardens And I would just see what everybody was Growing and I'd go to the local small Farms and I would just ask what grows so Well that you know you have too much of It and I would ask the local gardeners Like you know what foods grow really Abundantly and easily here that have the

Few few you know the least pests and Actually become a problem because you Have too much food And so I volunteered at Gardens and I Volunteered at some farms and I visited All the gardens in the area I read some Books I watched videos And I just started to you know bring it All together And I also was learning foraging so I Went out on some foraging Walks Like The Walk that will go on tonight for anybody That's going to join And I got some books and the same thing Just brought the knowledge together And so over that first originally I gave Myself just six months from going from Zero percent to a hundred percent And that six months turned into 10 Months because I also started a lot of a Few Community projects during that time And was also doing a lot of other things Too This wasn't that was you know Socializing and learning other things And going traveling and all sorts of Things like that I had a girlfriend and Her only interest was not turning yards Into Gardens And so Over that 10 months what I did is I was Just getting all of these Gardens Established and continuing to educate Myself more and more and then I was also

Doing a program called Community fruit Trees so we planted over 100 fruit trees In publicly accessible places where Anybody would be able to enjoy the fruit Like front yards along the sidewalk or Church yards or along bicycle paths and Then we started free seed project and we Sent out seeds in that first year to 2000 people who wouldn't otherwise have Access to seeds so they could start Their own Gardens and we started a Program called Gardens for the people And we built Gardens for five families In their front yard so that they could You know Break free from the grocery stores as Well and so I was doing that at the same Time and so Day one of the project was November 11 2018 And the first meal that I had Was actually the first 100 homegrown and Foraged meal of my entire life so I had Been pretty busy leading up to it and When I finally got started on day one I Was diving right in And so over that next year I grew over a Hundred different foods in my garden A lot of ones that you've heard of like Broccoli and kale and cilantro and Rosemary and Thyme and you know dill and Oregano and basil and Um You know all of the many of the typical

Annuals but I also focused on growing a Lot of perennials Um Foods you know I was in Florida so Like katuk and Moringa and Chaya not Chia it's very different from Chia And Perennial spinaches like Suriname Spinach and Brazilian or Okinawa spinach And all sorts of foods that few people Have heard of Within the confines of you know Mainstream U.S American society one of The foods that I grew a lot of that so Many people I know I've never had is Yucca not not Yucca that's a that's a Desert plant Yucca also called cassava Is a plant that over one billion people Around the world Would pretty much cease to exist without It's one of the most important staple Foods in the world Cassava or Yucca and so I grew both a Lot of your typical annuals and then a Lot of your perennials as well And so I grew a hundred different foods And then I foraged 200 different foods From out and about whether that was Urban foraging from abandoned Lots like Mangoes and apples or being out in the Woods and doing my fishing and Harvesting you know the very interesting Invasive wild yams which is again Something of Florida not of up here And then of course your your many

Different weeds like plantago and Dandelion and Uh well other other great greens like Stinging nettle and wood nettle so I Forged over 200 different foods and so Over that year between 100 different Foods in my garden and 200 different Foods forage that's over 300 different Foods which is almost a new one for Every day of the year So a pretty wide diversity And It was definitely difficult just the Amount of time that it took Um But also just the dedication that it Took to turning down meals at other People's houses and passing by the Restaurants and having to if I was Traveling bring the right amount of food Or be able to forage it So there was you know it was very Difficult but at the same time I managed To meet my needs the area that I Struggled the most was about halfway Through I became I believe deficient in Fat And I was eating tons of coconuts which Are very high in fat but that just was Not enough that wasn't doing it and Interestingly enough the food that I was Was the best at foraging going into it The skill I had was fishing Just could not catch very many fish for

Some reason I was really not doing well Fishing So I was struggling to get enough fat And so about halfway through I was I was Struggling there I think my I was low in Like Your omegas your DHA and and fats I Could feel a bit of a brain fog and sort Of low energy And I ended up taking a trip to Northern Wisconsin where I'm from and I brought a Hundred thousand calories with me which When you have to live off the land Counting calories actually has a real Benefit because if you don't have enough Well you you might eventually just wear You know dwindle away and cease to exist So I went north Um to be there for the summer and then That's when I caught some lake trout and I could it was it was really interesting Lake trout are about 15 fat and I I Pressure cooked the lake trout and found That I could eat the entire thing like Bones cartilage eyes brain skin meat And Within one day I gained a pound and I Think basically that lake trout just Sort of became me over a period of a Couple days like I could feel my body Just incorporating exactly what it what It needed And then I harvested some deer that had Been hit by car by cars

Some people like to call them road kill Deer I like to call them deer that have Been hit by cars and the reason why is They they were a deer before they were Hit by a car and they're still a deer Afterwards a lot of people have this Sort of Association of it being some Like something other but it often it Just looks like a deer that's sleeping On the side of the road it's nowhere Near what people would imagine as far as Like thinking it's really really gory or Anything like that Unless it's an interstate and it's a Semi that's a different story but I'm Harvesting them from roads where it's Like 55 miles per hour So anyway I over that month regained that fat and That I needed and ended up finishing With 15 body fat the only reason I know That is I ended up speaking at University of Wisconsin lacrosse and Happened to be staying with the the Sports scientist guy and so he put me in The dunk tank and uh so I I finished off The year one of the most beautiful Things was without getting sick once and So when I say all of my food that Includes all of my medicine so I put to Test the idea of Letting my food be my medicine and my Medicine be my food and so my belief is That all of our food is medicine when

We're eating foods that are not Destroying us you know fast food isn't Medicine in fact fast food is the system That requires us well that then results In us taking Pharmaceuticals because our Food is actually what's poisoning us but When every single thing we put in our Body is coming from the land and is Nourishing us our food is our medicine And then all of the medicinal herbs that I harvested the mushrooms like Hen of The Woods and Chaga and reishi and lion's mane and Then all of my medicinal herbs and Plants like Elderberry for making my Elderberry Syrup from my my honey that I harvested From my bees along with the elderberries That I foraged I put that to the test And sure enough I made it one year Without getting sick once so for me it Was a beautiful Testament of our food Being our medicine and our medicine Being our food and Being able to break free from Pharmaceuticals That being said definitely want to Acknowledge I am a young already Relatively healthy person But also want to acknowledge that ninety Percent of our Pharmaceuticals that we Use are used for things that are Preventable through good health and Connection so you know some

Pharmaceuticals have a much more of a Place but the vast majority are used Pretty carelessly and uh you know in Place of actually Taking care of ourselves and putting Healthy food and medicines into our body And So I just want to talk uh for a few more Minutes and then open it up to questions And discussion because that's really you Know I I much prefer that versus me just Talking the whole time But I want to share The two biggest lessons that I've Learned through this and that I've Incorporated into Pretty much my whole life and my Activism and my intentions of the way That I be The way that I am the way that I exist So first is that The solutions to most of our problems Lie in community so Yes I was growing and foraging all of my Food and not accepting food from others You know even food that other people Grew in their Gardens Not because I don't value that but Because I wanted this experiment and I Wanted to see I wanted to learn and this Was the best way for me to learn But it wasn't about self-sufficiency This wouldn't have been possible without Community every piece of knowledge that

I had came because I learned it from Somebody else And Sure I was growing and foraging all my Food but I took the whole community of Resources that were put together the Seed growers the small seed companies That produce the seed the nurseries Where I got the plants the people who Have developed these crops over hundreds Of years and of course long before that All of this knowledge exists for the Most part here in what we call the United States because of the indigenous Knowledge because of the people that Have existed for thousands of years Living in reciprocity with this land and That knowledge being sometimes gifted From them but often stolen from them And Everything that I did all the foraging That I did all the growing I did came Because that knowledge existed long Before me So the solution to our problems is not Self-sufficiency when I first got Started I liked the idea of Self-sufficiency when I was first Breaking Free from The American dream and consumerism and Capitalism but what I really realized is That for us to break free it's about Coming together as community and I think We will break free when we actually

Truly Embrace that we need each other Not this idea that if we earn all the Money we need we can have what we need And then we can be free but instead to Realize behind every dollar is people And behind every dollar we spend is not Independence it's actually codependence We are dependent upon one another And that Community goes long Beyond just Humanity that Community is our plants And animal relatives as well Our existence only is possible through a Deep relationship with this broader Community our body is more bacterial Cells than it is human cells that is our Community we are a community of bacteria Without bacteria in our intestines we Cannot digest this food we cannot Assimilate it into our body and of Course without all of the animals doing All of the plants and the Animals Interacting we simply would not exist And then the second solution And the second element of how I try to You know live my life is through Biodiversity and diversity so when you Look at our current Global industrial food system which many People would call broken other people Would say it's not broken it's actually Working really well for the small Percentage of people that it's designed To work well for but when you look at it What you see is at the center of it as

Monocrops corn and soy being two of them That's the opposite of biodiversity That's the opposite of diversity that's The destruction of our millions of Species subspecies varieties of foods And that is at the center of the great Destruction of Earth and Humanity the Opposite of that is diverse is Biodiversity and diversity so in the Garden this was an easy lesson to learn A productive abundant Garden that is Resistant to pests and drought is a Garden that has dozens of species that Are actually interacting with each other And where if one fails or two fails or Five fails you still have 30 40 50 other Species that can be doing well so there Was a woman That was part of one of the gardens it Was her yard and she would always come Out to me and she would say oh we've got Aphids on the kale or uh you know the Lettuce is getting bit up by Caterpillars and she was always focused On the one or two and I would say well How about the other 98 species that are Doing incredible what if we just think About those ones and we just forget About those we got plenty of food we Have more food than we can eat that is Possible through biodiversity And so the more that we build our Gardens with that in mind The more we're building resilience into

Our food system and that includes things Like food forestry and syntropic Agriculture so the question was during This month have I felt satiated on most Days and then has there been worry about Where my food is coming from I have not felt satiated at first And part of the reason why is so I gave Myself just nine days to prepare I'm not Doing a survival experiment this that's Not what it's about at all because first Of all I knew I was gonna do great like I knew I knew I was gonna get the food So it's not it's not a survival Experiment like I didn't go into this With any worry that I wasn't going to be Getting enough food Between wild rice Venison and applesauce Plus just a mess of greens every day no Prob like I knew it wasn't going to be a Problem Um but I knew what I worried about was Whether I was gonna it was gonna be Tasty Whether it was going to be delicious And Also just one note about the whole like Having enough each day People sometimes ask like they think I'm Just harvesting each day what I'm gonna Eat And I can tell a rookie when they ask That question because no forager in Their right mind would do that because

The key is when you find the abundance You harvest it and you process it Whether and that's whether that's Canning it like jams and jellies that's Like water bath canning or pressure Canning like my fish and my venison or Wild rice I harvested 31 pounds of wild Rice one day and 45 pounds of wild rice Another day so I got 75 pounds of rice That's quite a bit of rice I only need a Pound a day of rice To meet my caloric needs basically for a Day so I harvested 75 calorie days of Just from my rice alone from those Couple days of icing so I have no Shortage of food whatsoever and I knew That I wouldn't Have a shortage I would not say she I'm satiated today And I was satiated yesterday and I've Been more and more satiated over the Last week but the two things I've been Lacking was salt And that's because I started in Wisconsin and I like I only gave myself Nine days and I didn't bring in any Prior food so that meant I had to wait Till I got to the ocean to harvest my Salt and I got to Boston on day 19 so I Went 18 19 days without salt That was challenging Food is at least what Savory food Without salt wow the first meal that I Had that night

I tasted this food that I'd been eating I'd been eating the same food this whole Time but all of a sudden there were all These flavors in the pot that weren't There before and The salt is I just I do not know how I Would do it without salt maybe over time You'd come adjusted to it but salt has So much more satiated me so that's one And then of course fermented foods like Lacto fermentation things like Sauerkraut you can you can ferment a lot Of different herbs and greens and then Of course Um you know I didn't make apple cider Vinegar or apple vinegar or fruit scrap Vinegars having that makes such a big Difference and I just didn't have the Time for that yet So I know that I could be incredibly Satiated over time because imagine I Gave myself nine days to prepare today's Day 22 yet I'm lit I'm eating a Basically full diet to me it's like wow That's I I am elated with that and Excited and and the hopeful about the Possibilities Um And I'm hope and I'm so incredibly Excited about how I can figure out how To make it so more satiating and of Course the way to make it more satiating Is Is to be harvesting the abundance at all

The different seasons you have your Maple syrup in the spring for example And then you have like your you know Your nice fat trout at a different time Of the year and then You're you're you know you have your Your smoked foods and you have your nuts That you're harvesting in the fall and You bring all that together to make a Complete diet mine has been only what Grows in this window which is awesome Because I've really gotten the flavor of Late summer fall but then the the last Thing I need to satiate myself right now Is just oil Um which me either means getting a deer That's much more fatty Because the last year I harvested was Just lean as can be or The hickory nut oil and so it takes one Five gallon Buck bucket of bitter nut Hickory also called uh yellow bud Hickory to make three quarts of oil Three quarts of oil is a lot so if I Just harvested one gallon of this Hickory which is abundant in this region Um Yes I'm I'm ending the project in DC and I know it's abundant there because after This project is over I'm gonna be doing That I have about I have probably a couple hundred Hickory Nuts that I've been waiting to make the Oil from hopefully I'll do that like

Tomorrow or the next day but anyway if I Can make this hickory nut oil which I Know I can it's just a matter of time to Do everything I'll have a complete diet Um so maybe tomorrow or the next day I'll make that Yeah Other questions Like what your wider goal is in terms of Like not obviously not everyone can Afford yes And like what what is your thinking People get out of following your journey You know like the actions that comes Yeah I really appreciate appreciate that Question so what's like The Wider Picture of what I'm doing I would not be Doing this project of foraging 100 of my Food just for the ex fun of that the Experiment of that or even for just Showing people that food is growing Freely and abundantly around us which That in and of itself is quite something For people to realize that food's Growing everywhere and we can then break You know use that To break free from the global industrial Food system which ties me into exactly What my big picture is is that My goal my purpose is to help people Break free from oppressive systems Broken systems inequitable unjust Systems This Dominator culture where our way of

Existence doesn't serve the majority of Us but instead serves a small percentage Of ultimately the wealthy people that Dominate so much of the world So my my intentions is to shine a light On these broken systems these uh Oppressive systems And to give people gateways to step Outside of them in ways that uplift Their spirits that help to reconnect Them with the Earth and in doing so Empower them because I believe people Will become empowered when they have When they can see the power in their Hands and when people grow their own Food they feel that power I don't know Anybody who who doesn't start to grow Their own food and start to really feel Some serious power behind that and so Finding as many ways that people can Start to feel that power and that Empowerment To see that yeah I don't need all of These Consumeristic products that I thought I Did I don't need all of these All of these fancy clothes to cover up Who I really am I don't need to pretend To be what I'm really not I don't need To buy into these societal structures And these societal Norms that eat away At my soul and instead I can do what Really serves me and my hopes is that People see that what serves them is

Serving others I think that one of the Greatest lessons that I've got through My last 10 years of of you know life and Activism is that the happiest people are People who are living in service of Something greater than themselves and All of this around us is greater than Ourselves if we can learn to be stewards Of the earth and stewards of humanity we Can like start to shed our egos and you Know Focus Less on ourselves as Individuals and start focusing on our Humanity we start to realize that We are only as important as anybody else That's around us and then we're going to Work on you know living in a society Where we're less focused on taking but More focused on living in reciprocity With one another so So again to summarize it's about Breaking free from these oppressive Systems but doing it in an empowering Way where people can start to feel more Joy more meaning more purpose more Passion and organically start to feel That so that Breaking Free isn't a Negative thing and it's not a a pressure And a like giving up of of what makes Life great but instead it's shedding all This extraneous and unnecessary and Instead finding that that meaning and Purpose and of course To add to that I think this is already Clear by me having said that but

Ultimately the goal in no way shape or Form is it for everybody to do as I do It's for everybody to do as brings them Their deepest meaning and purpose in Life me for me that is being an activist For me I love being an educator I'm also A performer like from birth I've been uh I've been someone who likes attention I don't know exactly why that is it's Often because you didn't get enough you Know attention as a child but I don't Recall that being the case like not Having enough it could be that but for Me like I've always liked to entertain People I've always liked to shock people I've always I've loved to like make People say like wow you can do that And but that's not my goal is to get Others to do that it's to ask themselves What's my purpose if maybe it's being a Caretaker it could be an educator it Could be an organizer it could be a Politician a a lawyer it could be A gardener a forager wild crafter it Could be just it could be an activist it Could just be a human being who sits on Their porch with friends and talks and Hangs out and plays cards and that's Enough And so that's my goal is not by any Means for everybody to do as I do Because additionally to add to that is That I definitely want to acknowledge Like I am a very privileged person I

Didn't know that growing up because I Grew up with less than most people Around me like we were very low income It was my mom and us four kids and she Only made about 15 to 18 000 a year we Were Jewish in a mostly catholic Christian place so You know I I felt you know ostracized in That way my mom was a hippie we were Weirdos like green fields were not cool At all Greenfield's my last name Um and so I never felt privileged Growing up and it wasn't until I was Like in my mid-20s that enough people Made you know commented on social media And like enough people said it enough Times where I started to not like Realize okay Yes I wasn't the most privileged person Where I'm from but if you look at like The global norms and standards I'm you Know I'm from the United States I'm I'm White I am you know identify as the Gender that I am I have all the physical Capabilities I fit into the box of What's considered normal Um I am a man I have a U.S passport uh I Have a college education I'm able to you Know speak like very clearly and explain Myself in situations of like potentially Dealing with a police officer I'm sure I missed out on some of them But ultimately like I come from that is

That's who I am so that's where I'm Operating from But I acknowledge that what I do is not Possible for a lot of people to do so it Would be extremely ignorant for me to Say like I want people to do as I'm Doing I definitely don't what I really Want and this has turned into a very Long answer ultimately but what I really Want is for My main like one of the main groups of People I'm talking to are the privileged Group of people who have time energy and Resources who can say actually I have Enough I don't need more and I can share My resources with other people that have Less that's like a big central part of My goal is to help people to live from An attitude of gratitude of gratefulness Rather than the attitude of needing to Climb to the top so that people who are Ultimately in the top few percentage of The world that are comparing themselves To the billionaires but they're Millionaires and saying I don't have Very much can actually say actually I Have so much and I'm going to start to Actually share this that's my way of Trying to create equity So That's a few thoughts on that Thanks for asking Here Oh wait actually you asked one so I'll

Come back to you [Music] [Applause] As well I've been following your Instagram account So I'm really excited To see the edges I wonder how your Activism plays out If you like do you think your post Visuals and your patients get people Empowered to do on something in their Life So yeah Yeah so the question is yeah using Social media kind of is it effective is My activism through social media Effective and is it is it working with People making changes and learning and I guess nice And Then the board of directors of I run several Gardens free to pick for Anybody who wants to go in throughout The valley Inspirations inspiration keep doing it Good good yeah I can say that I'm not Able to use social media nearly as Effectively as I would like to I have not been in the algorithm lately With the whole Facebook and Instagram They have not been on my team they have Been at other times and I hope that they Will get back onto my team sometime in The near future

It means algorithms mean that it's not a Matter of whether people want to see the Content you're sharing it's a matter of Whether they choose to put it into People's news feeds and they have not Been doing that so I'm that's been a Challenge that I need to overcome but Um I will say that the reason that I'm Continuing to use social media as a tool Is because enough people do share with Me that me being a part of their life Via social media is Meaningful enough That Often it's that they live in communities Where they don't have support and they Feel the support by just having someone Else who shares that And me being able to take it to a kind Of a whole nother level of extremeness With some of this stuff makes them feel A little more sane Sometimes you know I I can be the I'm The crazy guy so that other people don't Look as crazy because people are like Not Rob Greenfield guy's a lot crazier Than you are so it makes other people Start to look a little more normal Um but I can say that yeah a lot of People you know I'm uh I'm actually You know I'm a marketer like basically What I do is I create stories that are Designed as packages for media to be Able to tell for millions of people to Be able to see so I did run a marketing

Company before I did this when I woke up In 2011 that's exactly what I was doing Was running a marketing company and I Was knowledgeable in search engine Optimization and social media management And things like that you know I learned It I wasn't knowledgeable to start But I've always been a messenger I've Always been a Storyteller and so what I've learned to do is Tell stories in a way that media can Then report on issues In a that gives them like a way to to Share these messages that's uh more Interesting that more people are likely To read and see and so that's what I do On social media as well and so the Reality is it's a difficult balance Because I'm not actually being exactly Who I want to be like my number one Personal goal in life is just to truly Be myself like that's the most important Thing when I die is that I've achieved Just simply being myself and I've Definitely come a long way but I still Have a ways to go And The most challenging aspect of that is Designing things in a way where it's Going to work on social media And like playing that like I'm not Willing to I'm not willing to go nearly Like so many people are willing to just Bend themselves in a way that's not

Treating themselves I'm definitely not But I will present Like more excitement for something and And not like that not be exactly who I Am And so social media is definitely like a Challenging thing for me and eventually I'll be done like I'm 36 and my goal is To not you not be on social media Like when I'm 40 I'll still be on there I just won't be running a page though Like people can film and I'll you know Be there but I won't be like diddling Away on it So yeah social media has been a great Tool it's also my greatest weakness in The sense that it feeds the ego It is highly addictive it keeps me up uh At night when I could be getting quality Sleep I think in Rather than the present moment but in The how can I tell this story which you Can do without social media writers do That photographers do that directors do That as well so it's not just social Media And I'm you know I'm overcoming those Things for sure but uh those are all Challenges of working with the social Media definitely Will tell you access your if you want to Teach who are you going to teach you Have to if you're not in a classroom Yeah social media is a great way that

Being said a lot of people would say the Only like what you couldn't do without Social media and I actually I'm kind of Old school so I definitely could Eventually my plan is just to go places And then just let the news or the news Stations know I'm there like for example I just did an interview with People Magazine down in the garden I didn't have to be on the in on social Media they came they'll put that out Online on like Tuesday uh so that's my Long-term uh game plan and that's what I've been doing is building lots of Media contacts so that when I'm gonna do Something I just let them know and then I say I'll be at this place this time Come if you want to and that's kind of Like the long-term game plan of being Able to break free from social media Because Ultimately You know Facebook is one of the more Destructive companies on Earth in in Certain ways and I don't really They are in alignment with my beliefs But I'm definitely using them and so That of course is another element of How It's not really super in alignment The mess the best what oh Yeah that's true Yes other questions Also just want to say no question is too Weird

[Music] Yes how do I travel private jet only Yeah so how do I travel it depends on The trip so Um you know sometimes it's biking by Bicycle is wonderful I've done three Bike trips across the United States of Course I did fly back afterwards Um That was so yeah I I I often travel by Bus or train And I've traveled a lot by hitchhiking I Also travel a lot by just Craigslist Ride shares you know like if I'm going From Florida to Wisconsin I'll just put A ad up and sometimes I just post on Social media that I'm going that Direction and people will see that and Sometimes I have been had a really hard Time finding uh like a ride share but Someone said I'll drive you there so Sometimes I I do that as well I actually uh and then sometimes I fly I Fly only when I believe that the positive impact that I can have through that flight has Outweighed outweighs the negative impact So when I go to Europe for example I've Gone to Europe to do tedx talks twice But I didn't just do one tedx instead I Did a like a month-long speaking Tour All by train and bus around Europe so I Flew just to get across the ocean and Then gave like 30 40 talks and believed

That that was worth the flight But just a few months ago I got rid of My passport so I no longer have a Passport and I know I no longer have any Form of identification I got rid of my Birth certificate A couple months ago before that I had Gotten rid of my driver's license and my Social security card so as far as Traveling goes down I have no ability to Fly which is both a relief and a little Like hmm interesting but I chose to do It And next time I travel internationally Will be by sailboat and I will need to Find someone who's okay with a stowaway And I'll jump off at some Harbor and Enter you know the country Without a passport And but right now this travel is with a Teammate of mine and he is driving his Car I ride in the passenger seat and He's uh my teammate who does the film Making so he's the one who's producing The films for you know telling these Stories Yeah so Yeah with this project yeah it's got a a Car with a trunk is key to be able to Carry all my food because it's a lot of Food and I'm carrying a dehydrator a Pressure canner you know pots and pans And lots of jars to store food a cooler And a few other miscellaneous things

Like a blender and so bags of walnuts And you know all sorts of different Things so yes it is It's great to have a car for this for This project and I wouldn't do this Project of foraging 100 of my food while Giving talks and plant walks in Different cities without a car it could Feasibly be done on a bicycle Definitely could be but It would just be a big much bigger Challenge I would need to be eating a Lot more wild rice Too What was the question more about your Decision oh sure Sure the question is uh yeah why get rid Of all of my forms of identification so Sometimes people look at my life And and not saying this in your scenario But often on the internet people look at My life and they they see the one thing That I did And then they make all of their Judgments and observations on that one Thing and they say well that's just Absurd But everything that I do is based around An entire life plan and A life design So me choosing to get rid of of all of My identification is part of the bigger Picture of me choosing to remove myself In as many ways as I can from this

Government and all of the oppressive Systems that they've CR that they've Created so I've chosen not to pay Federal taxes for the rest of my life It's been six years since I've filed Taxes and I will never and since I've Paid federal taxes and I will never pay Federal taxes again I do that legally by Making less than the federal poverty Threshold which I've committed to life To making less than the federal poverty Threshold in the past I think they call This like Tax resistance or something I don't Remember the exact term but It was often used as a you know Resistance to war like during the Vietnam era for example and so the idea Is what are our taxes funding well over 25 percent of our taxes go to war so I've chosen not to pay for our Wars Our taxes go to uh the the military Industrial complex they go to the police The the to Um to the police industrial complex they Go to Our prison industrial complex that's the Word I was looking for so what that Means is that my taxes are paying for Police brutality Standing Rock when they Brought out the military equipment that Was paid for by taxpayer dollars I was Outstanding Rock and I wasn't going to Be at Standing Rock paying the taxes for

The military to be there at the same Time as I was there For example So getting rid of my ID is is a part of The big picture of me choosing to step Away from these oppressive systems For one because I don't want to be a Part of them and for two to show people That we can step away from them and so The IDS on their own not having IDs is You know not so much but as part of the Bigger picture of stepping away You know not having a driver's license That's a big thing it means I can't Drive a car I still get in cars but it Means that most of the time I ride my Bicycle I'm not perfect but most of the Time I ride my bicycle and if I'm Feeling lazy I can't just get into a car And drive I still have to ride my Bicycle and I can't I don't have a Credit card And I don't have a bank account Which means I can't just and the spur of My moment be like hey I want to travel To another country right now I can't it I would actually have to jump through Some hoops to do it so all of these Things also make me jump through hoops To do the things that I may not really Want to do that it may be more of a spur Of the moment thing if I want to buy Something online that I don't really Need I have to find a friend and say hey

Could you buy this and I'll give you Cash and you pay with your card And that means I'm going to do away I'm Just going to have way less transactions So it's it's a way of like helping me to Do exactly what I want to do as well Um and for example I'm never gonna pay Rent in the sense of like needing to Have I have no credit I have no credit Score so I can't get into debt it keeps Me out of that possible trouble So there's so many elements like that You know it's tied into helping me to Live the the life that I want right now I can't fly internationally and a big Part of that is that I want to be more Like Place based I want to more be more Deeply connected to this land rather Than Be able to go anywhere at any time I Rent a house I I currently have a Non-profit and I rent a house for the Team of people who work with my Non-profit and they work for food and Lodging And sometimes I sleep in the laundry Room there And before it was the mud room but then I brought in another team member then it Was the laundry room but I brought in Another team member so now I don't even Have the laundry room but there is a Little nook under the stairs that I can Sleep in

And then Um I there's someone who's got an unused Cabin that I've been staying at about 20 Miles south of Asheville so that's That's basically my base right now so I haven't had a really permanent Home since I guessed my tiny house in Florida that I lived in during my two Years there that I and then I and I gave That away when I left I have like dumpster diving there's Loads of houses and shelters and places Out that are being unused yes I stay With a lot of people Right now I'm staying with Ross Here in New Haven so because I travel a Lot I stay with a lot of people Thank you Ross it's about one he's got a Wonderful little Nook we call it the Harry Potter room right It's just a tiny little Nook that's full Of my food right now Uh maybe uh two more questions if people Would like in the back Space Sure yeah mentioning some communities so If you're interested in Intentional communities I recommend the Website which stands for intentional Communities and this is a network where You can learn about all sorts of Intentional communities exist and some Of them take in visitors just to like

Learn about them for a day many of them Have openings if you're interested in Learning a living in an intentional Community Earth Haven in Asheville has a Week where you can stay there and it's Like kind of getting the experience of Living in an intentional Community Earth Haven is an intentional community in Asheville that I've been to a couple of Times I haven't been to nearly as many Intentional communities as I'd like to Um as far as some food communities There's uh one that's a really Incredible Community is called uh Soulfire Farm which was started by Leah Penniman up in up up in in New York wait Yeah yeah New York yeah Um and so my communities that I end up In are definitely just miscellaneous Different whether they're small Communities like there was one I stayed At in Florida called the peanut butter Palace which was like a college Eco Community Um and so I've stayed in lots of Different ones like in my travels And you know there's also of course Woofing which is worldwide opportunities On organic farms and that's a really Great way to get connected to community That's less of like the permanent Community and that's more of a bit more Of like a temporary type thing Um

So A few thoughts on that Any any other way you'd like me to go Into that [Music] Yeah my community aspect is much more Like it's just we're in community at This moment you know and everywhere that I go I find Community uh just of people Who care and people who have similar Goals of of Breaking Free whether it's The excitement of growing food and Foraging or you know not trashing the Earth or just wanting to live happy Healthy free lives my community for my Community is really just connecting with With Many different people and of course Plants and animals every day as well One last question here A beautiful wholesome approach to life To existing have you been like uh like What's going on now with the pandemic The pros and cons facts versus Being You say you call yourself a weirdo From Kellogg's and Purina or whoever These people are you know Um yeah Fake news yes so the question is yeah Have I gotten Flack You know uh or you know as some would Say like haters There's plenty of people who think I'm

Just incredibly absurd so the good news About the good news is that I'm reaching Enough people where there's a lot of People who really disagree with me And so yeah if you look at just the Comments on my social media there's Plenty of people who don't agree with me If you look at the comments when I'm you Know in like for example The Daily Mail Or the guardian or things like that There's a lot more people who don't Agree with me and there's a lot of People who just say a lot of really Unnecessary mean things but what I've Learned is that Those people are your greatest Supporters the reason why is they get You in the algorithm and they do my job For me of getting me out there and so I Wouldn't be reaching nearly as many People in a positive way without them so And the other thing is that if you're Going to reach a lot of people the more People you positively reach it Guarantees you're going to be having People that are going to be unhappy with You that are going to be angry with you And fortunately I have the ability to Handle that I don't mind it especially Because one of my personal jobs is to Turn negative things into something Positive hence seeing them as my Actually my greatest supporters I have plenty of you know I will say I

Think I've done a good job of not being Judgmental and not telling people what's Right or wrong and in doing so I don't Get nearly as much of the Negative media and negative press and The sort of stronger as people would say Haters the main people the people who Have really come out against me the most Have been people who didn't get what They wanted out of me it was people who Liked me a lot they loved me and I Didn't give them enough attention and so Then Because they didn't want to be rejected I was evil I was the bad guy so then They didn't have to handle like not Getting the love that they wanted that's Like so I have a there's a few people on The internet that just go out of their Way to say a whole bunch of like you Know ultimately lies and all of them are People that just didn't get the the love Or the attention they wanted as far as Corporations I've had no corporations That have you know come after me which Means I'm either really crafty Or I haven't done my job well enough yet And time will tell on that one and Um no government has come after me yet So I designed my work to be you know Again accessible non-judgmental and to Also be like you know when I'm working On food waste And talking about Hunger most people can

Be like yeah it doesn't make a lot of Sense to waste all our Foods waste half Of our food while you know 50 million U.S Americans are food Insecure so I also really do choose to Stay away from things that are too Polarized because my place in society Is To be with the people that wouldn't Otherwise listen to Some of the other long-haired hippies That they want to use the back door I still want them even though I'm Barefoot to let me through the front Door of their homes so that I can bring My foraged meals into their houses and Introduce them to The plants that are growing around us so It's this balance that I definitely walk So on that note it is 4 30 which is Great timing because that leaves a half Hour before the plant walk for anybody That would like to regroup a little bit Before so we're heading over to uh to East what's the East Rock Park but Before that I just want to say I love You all very much I'm so grateful for You all being here I'm so grateful for All of you taking time to be Working to improve your own quality of Life and those around you and Um I'm excited to share a hug with Everybody that would like to share a hug I love that you know we're a small group

So we have time for that and I'm excited That we have more time together at the Park for the plants I'm also excited to Get a little warmed up and make some tea Before that