Sunday, January 24, 2010

Persistence Hunting vs Persistence Shopping

When I lived in Chicago many years ago, I got into the habit of daily marketing. I would walk to the grocery store and buy only the amount of food that I could carry home. This habit carried on during my years in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I thought about buying one of those collapsible shopping carts so I could wheel my groceries home, but I never did. What I found over the years was I couldn't buy more than a few days of produce without it going bad before I ate it, so the cart would have ended up wasting food and wasting money.

A couple of interludes in the suburbs where grocery stores are miles away from home put a crimp in this style of shopping. I recall at first I actually resented having to own a car to get around. And I resented even more the lack of suburban planning that made a car a necessity. Self propelled suburban shopping carts essentially. But I still stuck to my habit of shopping with a basket, not a cart. The basket provided a kind of portion control that I found, and still find, useful. As I think about it now, I don't believe I've ever filled a shopping cart in my life. Nor have I spent more than $35 on a basket of groceries. To this day I look on in a mix of fascination and horror when the person in front of me forks over well more than a hundred dollars for an overflowing cart of groceries. I realize, folks have families...but the amount of food you can fit in an SUV is staggering. Do they really eat that much in a week?

I'm glad I am able to walk to my local grocery store in Boulder. Although I confess I hitch a ride with friends fairly often too. Yesterday morning, bright and early I ventured out into the crisp, clear, clean 34 degree mountain air for the 15 minute walk to the King Soopers. As I plodded along, I thought to myself (once again) that walking to the store was actually an honorable way to procure my daily calories. Certainly healthier to walk than to hop in the car. Something akin, although of course very, very far removed, from what our nomadic ancestors endured to survive. Obviously, they didn't end up in Aisle 4 trying to decide on which of 42 kinds of salsa to buy. OK, so nothing like what our nomadic kin endured to survive. Except for the walking part, which I'm sure they did much more of.

I don't hunt. I'm not opposed to it. But it just never took. My Dad hunted some; quail mostly. He never took my brother or I hunting. I suspect his desire to hunt had faded about the time we were actually old enough to lug around the old shotguns he had. Or maybe he looked at us and realized we would be miserable in the cold and wet. And like our stabs at bass fishing together, no good nor fun (nor game) would likely come of it. So since I don't hunt, I suppose I fulfill the gatherer role in the Hunter-Gatherer paradigm.

As I lugged home two plastic shopping bags filled with vegetables, fruit, chicken and the few condiments I "gathered",I considered that for most of us, roaming the not-so-wild aisles of the supermarket will be as close many of us will ever get to the source of our food. My walk to and from the store over the years has become something of a hair shirt ritual but also in part an acknowledgment of and meditation on how good we all have it. How good I have it. The choices. The abundance.

Perhaps next time, I will pretend to be a Bushman and run down my quartered chicken breasts, cornering them in the meat department refrigerator. Then I will cunningly entrap them with my red plastic basket, scan them, bag them, carry them home, humbly honor their little chicken spirits and in triumph, George Foreman Grill them. And then of course, eat them...bloody red BBQ sauce dripping down my chin.

Today's kettlebell fun after barbell snatching and front squatting: 10 minutes of continuous 1 hand 20kg swings at 30 RPM, switching hands on the minute. 300 swings total.


  1. Beautiful video Randy. I would like to introduce our little hunter friend to a .308 win mag, I believe it wuld free up some additional time during his week.

    Did you note the awesome running shoes!

  2. Adam,
    Those were indeed top of the line persistence hunting shoes and I believe high tech moisture wicking socks. They didn't show the celebration with the Indian Club Dance unfortunately.