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Rewilding, Eco-feminism, and the Reclaimation of Magic

By Danielle Prohom Olson

Okay so lets start by going back to the very beginning – women and wild food. Because once upon a time all food was wild – and it was the women who gathered it. But what we’ve forgotten today was that no aspect of food, from harvest to preparation to consumption, was left untouched by magical ritual. And because the banning of magic, the subjugation of women, the domination of the earth – and the birth of agriculture – all went hand in hand, I see rewilding and food foraging as a site for eco-feminist intervention.

Many ‘rewilders’ seek to return to a more undomesticated state, a time when pre-historic hunter-gatherers lived “in harmony” with the earth. Roaming over the land, these ancestors foraged the food freely provided by the fields and woodlands, rivers and oceans. Men were mostly in charge of hunting and women were largely responsible for the harvesting and cultivation of plant foods as well the processes that accompanied it, cooking, baking, food processing, and food storage (basketry, pottery, and granaries).

With the shift to farming and the ownership of land and crop things changed. Food went from being a ‘gift’ of mother nature freely available to all, to a ‘product’ of human labour, a commodity to be bought, sold and earned by the sweat of our brow. And this meant removing women from the centre of food production which fed families and tribes, and replacing them with a ‘labour force’ that created food for profit.

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