Whole Larder Love: Rohan Anderson

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Whole Larder Love: Rohan Anderson

On the side of the road in his broken down car somewhere between Ballarat and the Otways, Rohan Anderson picked up the phone to do this interview. The trip was set to be a few days hunting for deers in the Otways, one aspect of Rohan’s way of life as documented in his blog Whole Larder Love.
“I’m just trying to go and shoot some deer because I don’t have enough deer in the freezer for when veggies start coming in – which normally for us at our house is not until November,” he says.
The hunter gatherer way of life wasn’t something that Rohan was always such a firm practiser of, and while he grew up in a household with homegrown produce, his adulthood was spent in a much more unhealthy fashion.
“Like many modern Australians I just got caught up working a busy corporate lifestyle six days a week and clearly not looking after myself,” he says.
“I just ate convenient supermarket food, I ate takeaway food, and years of that with no exercise and just sitting at a desk catches up with you. And so I had hypertension, anxiety and depression and a whole lot of other issues, I was quite obese and it was a combination of all of those things that made me want to change and see how I could fix that without doing a seven day bikini diet.”
whole-larder-love-book - webThe side effects of an unhealthy diet slowly piled up on Rohan, and while the realisation was sudden, the steps towards his new life were slow and meticulously thought out.
“There was no real point where I was like ‘This is it, I’m going to leave my desk job and live off the land’,” Rohan says.
“I was growing loads of vegetables in my city backyard for years before I took the plunge and changed my lifestyle completely. It was kind of like dipping my foot in the water to see what the temperature was like. Slowly I took a couple more steps in and ended up in the deep end.”
The deep end for Rohan was living off the land at his home in Ballarat with only the absolute necessities or basics like flour bought from the farmer’s market. It may sound like a difficult life, especially during winter and the limited crops, but if anything Rohan has plenty of food to share.
“The other day is a good example because I shot three rabbits for people that were visiting, butchered the back straps off and the legs. The carcasses that were left over I roasted those and made a rabbit stock out of that,” he says.
“That rabbit stock went into braising a pork hamhock I braised that with some onions and the stock from the rabbit, so you know the rabbit fed two different meals of backstraps and of legs and then the stock made something else. It just goes on and on. You’ve just got to use everything you can get your hands on.”
The transition into ‘practiculture’ – as Rohan refers to it – couldn’t have seemed more seamless. And while he claims that writing about it wasn’t an easy process for him, with his natural tone and honest comments on food culture, it’s allowed him to continue his blog, write regular pieces for The Guardian and release a second book, A Year of Practiculture (out August 1).
“I just think that’s the kind of bloke I am, I’m relaxed and I’m conversational and I think that kind of reflects in my writing I guess,” Rohan says.
His newest release is said to be an approachable look at how to live like he does, what to plant and when, how to cook it and some little bits and pieces in between.
“A lot of people want to embrace the lifestyle which I call practiculture, but a lot of people want to embrace elements of that lifestyle into their life whether they live in Brunswick, St Kilda or out in the country,” he says.
“The idea of this book is there to hold in peoples hands and to say, ‘Come on I’ll lead the way’, with a little bit of support through stories and a little bit of encouragement. You can read what I’ve done and see it’s not that difficult.”
Beyond sharing his way of life through his books and food blog, Rohan spreads his message at numerous events, whether that’s through an intimate workshop or a Q&A opportunity like the upcoming one at the Bendigo Writers Festival.
“I love the conversation about food and trying to fix food problems, but sometimes when you get in front of a big crowd and you’re really passionate about conveying the right message it can be really intimidating,” he says.
“But you will never, ever see on a packet of pork loin at the supermarket the pictures of the shitty conditions that those pigs live in. You will never see on the pack of chickens the shitty conditions that they live in either, so it’s kind of my duty to tell people that this stuff is happening.”
Ultmately, Rohan is one of the few people trying to make a shift in the way we see and consume food. He’s keeping things simple and bringing them back to the old times – for all our sake.
“There’s something wrong with the system and we have to do something about it,” he says.
Rohan is one of the many guest speakers at the Bendigo Writers Festival (August 7-9), to find out more and to purchase tickets visit www.bendigowritersfestival.com.au.
When&Where: Capital Theatre, Bendigo – 10am Sunday August 9
Written by Amanda Sherring, Photo by Kate Berry