Rewilding With Daniel Vitalis

In a world that can feel increasingly technological, we find solace and sanity in the natural world. Here, Pilar talks to special guest Daniel Vitalis about the art of rewilding, and the value of putting ourselves in closer contact with the earth.

This week Pilar interviews a special guest, hunter-gatherer and rewilding enthusiast Daniel Vitalis. Daniel is a well-recognized advocate for what’s known as rewilding, a term that he points out means very different things to different people.

To Daniel, and also to Pilar, it means reclaiming and reconnecting with aspects of our own wild-creature origins, and for getting into a closer, more intimate connection with our natural world.

Daniel visited Pilar’s family farm in Wisconsin in summer 2019 to film an episode for his forthcoming TV series, called “WildFed.” In the process, he collaborated with Pilar’s partner, Forager Chef Alan Bergo, to put on an amazing dinner of pigeon and wild-harvested plants.

But Daniel wasn’t always the hunter-gatherer type. In fact, for a long time he was a hard-core raw food vegan — a way of life he has happily left behind.

So here, we talk about the evolution of Daniel’s viewpoints, including some of the mistakes he says have taught him a lot of what he knows today. Along the way, we offer up some reflections on the history of humans, both ancient and modern.

And as always we leave you with some experiments to help you re-connect with nature and your own natural self, right here and now.

“Rewilding With Daniel Vitalis” Episode Highlights

  • Daniel’s passion for wildness and human history, and his own evolutionary path
  • Integrating a back-to-the-wild lifestyle into our technology- and achievement-driven culture
  • The importance of finding a balance between success, resilience and happiness
  • Daniel’s views of the essence of rewilding, which includes learning and using specific nature-based skills while also embracing modern conveniences
  • The importance of accepting the fact that our viewpoints and messages will evolve as our experiences change us — and it’s helpful to accept this evolution from others (including “influencers”), too.
  • Why Daniel was initially drawn to veganism, and what later convinced him that the lifestyle wasn’t for him
  • The WildFed team’s ethos of Made of Place: Making the building blocks of the body — water, carbon, minerals — of the place where the body is living
  • How connections to the natural world create a resilience to fragility

Daniel’s Experiment of the Week

Choose one species of any kingdom — plant, animal, fungi, bacteria, algae — that you could use for food or medicine. It could be as simple as a dandelion in your yard or as complex as a musk ox in northern Canada. Read about it, learn about it, find out what time of year its medicinal or nutritional properties are at their peak. When you’re ready, go out and harvest (or just meet) it. Notice how comforting it is that you have a friend in that landscape.

Pilar’s Experiment of the Week

Choose one or both of these options:

1) Borrowing an exercise from naturalist and tracker Tom Brown, Jr.: Mark out a 1 foot by 1 foot area in the soil or grass and get down to that level. For 15 minutes, comb through the dirt or grass with your fingers and look closely at what’s there. Notice everything, and how pleasurable it can be to touch the natural world.

2) Find a place outside where you can sit quietly without distractions for 30 minutes. Observe the wind in the trees, the birds that fly over or are perched nearby, all of the sounds and sights and smells. Notice how long it takes for the landscape around you to become even richer — do animals start moving closer? Has your breathing changed? Has your connection to nature shifted?


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Book cover: The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo
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