During my search for a dehydrator (see last post), quite by chance I discovered the website of Arctic explorer Gary Rolfe. You can watch a short film about Gary, who lives in Greenland, directed by Tom Whitworth below. Dehydration of nutrient-dense food is a necessity on his expeditions in the beautiful but harsh Arctic environment, (hence me stumbling upon his review of a dehydrator). Gary also has an amazing blog here. The videos and pictures that Gary posts are spectacular and his blog is a testament to one man’s determination to fulfill his dream – read this post.
The relationship he has with his beloved Greenland Dogs is truly wonderful to see. They work as a team, with the dogs doing the job that they were born to do, and which they clearly love. Gary writes: “Everything about them is vast and strong. They despise physical and mental cowardice and have boundless positive confidence in themselves and everything they do. They are aggressive in their appetite to do what they’ve been bred to do and that’s pull massive payloads in brutal cold. For over two thousand years the selection process remains, if you pull hard, you live. What remains are incredible canine athletes with unique traits; powerful dominant dogs that are incredibly strong-willed. With huge chests and fur over twenty centimetres thick they are the Panzer tanks of the dog world, stop at nothing and I love them dearly” (from an article at Snowpawstore).
These dogs have adapted perfectly to the extreme Greenland climate and thrive on the tough work of traversing – what seems to us – incredibly inhospitable terrain. Originally from Siberia, they are one of the oldest breeds in the world. Their diet is mainly comprised of seal and includes a mixture of skin, blubber and meat. Presumably this is identical or similar to that of their ancestors, and also to the Siberian wolves they so closely resemble (and from which they have evolved). To introduce an alien diet to these dogs would no doubt result in both short and long-term problems with their health and performance. It would also go against all common sense. The dogs, their diet and their environment are inextricably linked.
On reading Gary’s blog, I am reminded that sharing our lives with these wonderful creatures that have evolved in unison with us is a blessing. But I am also reminded that in order to thrive – not merely function – we are not so different from Gary’s dogs. To reject the diet that has sustained us for hundreds of thousands of years is a massive mistake. Yes we have evolved, just as the Greenland dogs have evolved in unison with man to pull sledges and work tirelessly but scratch the surface and underneath we are ultimately still hunter-gatherers and wolves.
For an amazing read, I throughly recommend Hugh Brody’s ‘The Other Side of Eden – Hunter-gatherers, Farmers and the Shaping of the World’ set amongst the Inuktitut of the Arctic. This beautifully written book explores the triumph of farming over the hunter-gatherer. Reading this changed my perspective on our relationship with agriculture, food and the land we live in – a truly wonderful book. With thanks to Professor Scruton for recommending it in his excellent article:
Tally ho! Let the hunt remind us who we are by Roger Scruton