Survival during coronavirus: Food adventurer, chef fights to save public television show teaching lessons of self-sufficiency

If self-sufficiency had a face, Georgia Pellegrini would be it. After leaving a lucrative job on Wall Street more than a decade ago, Pellegrini enrolled in culinary school and embraced a life that relied on the land around her — teaching herself how to hunt the wild boar and squirrel of the Mississippi Delta, bow fish alligator gar in the bayous of Louisiana and forage weeds in urban sidewalk cracks for nourishing meals. Pellegrini’s philosophy of self-sustainability is now more pertinent than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people everywhere to adapt their basic survival skills and learn what she calls “manual literacy” — or work with their hands — as modern-day conveniences such as restaurants and stores have shuttered their doors. “Learning to rely on your own two hands is the most important thing we can do as humans,” said 39-year-old Pellegrini, who is also an author based in Austin, Texas. “It’s incredibly empowering,” she said. “We’re seeing this resurgence in people baking their own bread or gardening for the first time. I think people are recognizing that becoming self-sufficient makes us far more immune to these global or local events. As hard as this time has been, it’s also brought a great lesson on how these skills are important to hold onto.” Pellegrini — whose third book, “Modern Pioneering,” sold out on Amazon during the outbreak — had plans to share such valuable skills with American households in a new show to air on PBS. But due to economic hardship in the wake of COVID-19, Pellegrini was left without the essential funding to pay for the distribution costs. Now she’s launching a campaign to raise the money herself. As of Thursday, Pellegrini had raised 40 percent of the required $30,000 on her crowdfunding site for the show, named “Modern Pioneering” after her book, a unique manual of basic garden-to-table recipes and life lessons — from learning how to preserve food for months in a pantry to assembling a 48-hour survival tool kit that can fit in a mint tin. She still has a way to go before July 1, the deadline for which to raise the funds. “It’s been a frustrating blow to know that we’ve got this content ready to distribute and we don’t have the funds to pay for the distribution costs,” Pellegrini said. “The episodes are already filmed and a top-notch producer and crew are on board,” she said. “We just need to raise enough money to pay for the distribution costs that will allow the show to reach 99 percent of U.S. households, giving free access to everyone regardless of whether they can afford cable or Netflix.” A national rise in hunting applications and fishing licenses may be indicative of a desire to return to the life Pellegrini embodies. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Colorado Parks and Wildlife received 624,104 applications for its annual big game draw — an increase from last year. As of April 22, 14,443 fishing licenses had been sold in the state since registration opened on March 1, the newspaper reported. In Vermont, resident fishing license sales are up by more than 50 percent from this time last year, and combination hunting and fishing license sales have increased by almost a quarter, according to an analysis by the Vermont Digger. Turkey hunting licenses are especially popular, with sales reportedly up 26 percent in time for the season’s start, which was May 1. “Long term, it has the potential to be really good,” Louis Porter, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife commissioner, told the Vermont Digger, saying the upward trend in sales may “re-engage folks who have lost touch with how much they enjoyed standing in front of a lake with their kid, fishing.” For Pellegrini, who grew up in New York’s Hudson Valley, the quest to live a self-sufficient life represents a cause greater than herself. “I wanted to create content that was truly valuable for people’s lives,” Pellegrini said. “I want to show them how they can find value where the rest of the world doesn’t think there is — whether it be creative ways to make the most with what they already have, or what is at their fingertips in nature.” “Unfortunately, a lot of our higher education is not teaching such basic skills anymore and there’s a real need for it,” she added. “It’s really been only a generation or two since those skills have been lost, and we can get them back.”

Let’s hope so!  We wish Georgia success with her new show.  America needs to be self-sufficient.  For more, click on the text above to see her video.       🙂

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