There can’t have been anything like it since the beardy bloke in Galilee fed the five thousand with some loaves and a few fish.
British campaigners are planning to mark Buy Nothing Day later this month with a ‘freegan’ feast for up to five hundred people. Not only will the guests pay nothing for their three course meal -with drink, nor will the hosts, because every item on the menu will be foraged, found or donated.
The feast will be held in Homerton House, Bristol, on the 28th of November. According to organiser Mark Boyle, it has been planned as an “educational event” to highlight the extent of unnecessary consumption in the world and show that it is possible for off-grid communities to exist.
“The fact that we will be able to feed so many people from foraged food will show just how much is wasted in the area. It will also show what is possible in a world without money,” says Boyle.
One obvious draw back of the freegan approach is that it is impossible to predict what will be on the menu. “All I can say is that there will be three courses plus drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. But there will be no meat because we are vegan,” he adds.
He promises that the feast will be sourced from only the finest skips outside supermarkets and whatever grows wild in nature. “We’ll have three teams foraging in skips for a couple of days before the event. And we have my co-organiser Fergus Drennan who is one of the best foragers in the world. He’ll be showing people how to forage in the woods. What he doesn’t know about edible herbs and plants isn’t worth knowing.”
It’s the second year Boyle and Drennan have organised their freegan feast. Last year it drew two hundred people. This time they expect two or three times as many.
A cashless year
It’s all part of a big life experiment for 30 year old Boyle who spent five years managing organic food companies. He has been living without money for over a year now. “I decided last November to give it up, for one year initially, and reconnect directly with the things I use and consume.” But he says he is merely “at the start of what might be a lifelong journey.”
He lives off-grid in an old caravan heated by a wood-burner converted from an old gas bottle. His one ‘cheat’ is a solar panel for light, laptop and phone (incoming calls only).
But for Boyle, food is always free. There are four sources for the food-for-free table, he says. “Growing your own, (my staples are potatoes, beans, kale, carrots, salads, root vegetables, squash, onions and swede); wild food foraging for berries, nettles, mushrooms, nuts and greater plantain -for a hayfever remedy. Then there’s securing waste food and other goods from local restaurants and shops.”
He concedes it’s a resource that depends upon the existence of industrialised society, but he says, “I feel like I have an obligation to consume it before using up any more energy producing food.”
It sounds like a difficult and at times uncomfortable way to live. Boyle says he has never felt healthier or happier. “I admit I felt it might be a bit of a trial when I started. But after a while I realised it has given me a huge sense of liberation. It’s a beautiful way of living and not as difficult as you might think.”
That’s why he wants to spread the message at his freegan feast.