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Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

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Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Diet for a Small Boat

Complimentarity for Complete Proteins
See Diet for a Small Planet by FM Lappe

We're not just what we eat, we're how we eat.

Diet for a Small Boat

Okay, not so much a diet as a handful of strategies for feeding oneself on a shoestring.

A lot of the info available for self-sufficiency focuses on land-based homesteads. Horti- and agriculture, often coupled with animal husbandry techniques don't translate as well to seasteading. 

Our distinguishing characteristic, as cruisers, is our mobility. We're not tied to any particular piece of land, but have access to a range of resources. We want, therefore, strategies that allow us to feed along the way. We want to avoid, or at least minimize those which tie us to a particular time, place or economy.

The following are a number of strategies that we're doing, dabbled in, or hope to try. Like most things in our life, it's a work in progress. You'll note that some are diametrically opposed to others. What they have in common is the promise of easing us out of the consumer economy, and toward a more subsistant lifestyle.

Guiding Philosophies

  • Nomadics -- Gotta eat and run!
  • Wildivoracious -- Eat wild, when possible.
  • Locovoracious -- Eat local, when possible.
  • Opportunivoracious -- Eat what presents itself.
  • Omnivoracious -- Broaden the palette.
  • Neo-Primitivism -- Do what can be done by hand.


  • Neo-Primitive aka Paleolithic Diet -- Fewer, high-quality carbohydrates and more proteins.
  • Vegetarian -- Potentially more energy efficient by orders of magnitude.
  • Vegan -- See New Age of Sail by Dmitry Orlov.
  • Raw Foods -- As adherents ask, "What's so different about humans, among all other animals on earth, that we require cooked food?"

Food Sources

  • Gathering (Wild)
  • Gleaning (Fringe)
  • Fish, Game and Others
  • Guerrilla Gardening
  • On-Board Gardening
  • Barter -- Includes barter for 'money'.


  • Fermentation -- See Wild Fermentation by SE Katz.
  • Protein Complimentarity -- 2 part grains : 1 part legumes (and other combos).
  • Sprouting


  • Drying -- For the weight-conscious cruiser!
  • Pickling
  • Brining
  • Smoking
  • Canning


  • Biomass -- Wood, peat, etc..
  • Biofuels -- Let's say, liquid fuels processed from biomass.
  • Solar -- The gift that keeps giving.


We've tried all of these, and most of them have become staple approaches. 

They're easy, fun and tasty. Each of them takes us one step further afield, lets us stay out longer, and reduces our dependency on the monetary economy. They help tie us into local networks of gardeners, fisherfolk, home cooks and friends at large.

Food is something we all need and love...

Why not make the most of it?


  1. Posted on behalf of JetGraphics:

    I saw a reference to the question "why cook food"? Recently, saw a video on TED that explained why.

    (spoiler alert)

    Apparently, it has to do with brain size, neurons and energy input. The researcher discovered that a lot of assumptions were wrong, when it came to brain complexity. Long story short - as brain size goes up, so does calorie requirements, far more than the body.

    She calculated that if a large animal had a human proportioned brain, it would have to be feeding far too much and could not survive. In short, cooking food increases nutrient intake so human brains could expand without the biological penalty.
    Here's the link to the TED talk video:

    "We cook, therefore we think!"

    1. That's a fascinating presentation!

      One of the key points is that cooking is a means of pre-digesting foods, a feature shared by fermentation... hmm.

      Some of our interest in NOT cooking is to reduce fuel consumption. Our fuel (firewood) is monetarily free, but still requires considerable energy and footprint commitments.

      So it's interesting to see that we're getting some extra return!

      Dave Z


  2. Hi Dave and JetGraphics,

    That's an interesting TED talk. Fascinating about the number of neurons relative to brain size, for different creatures.

    Not so sure about the conclusion, about cooked food – there are folks who say that human brains started the big increase well before cooking, though I don't have the reference for that. And her analysis about how much one has to eat/how much time one needs to spend eating has some assumptions that don't necessarily hold up. For example, eating raw as an omnivore that significantly includes meat makes it a lot easier to get a lot of calories fast, particularly eating fat, regardless of cooking. This doesn't have to mean clobbering mastodons – everything from bugs to mice can do the trick, and then there are aquatic creatures. It's an interesting question why humans veered one way, and gorillas stayed primarily vegetarian. Chimpanzees eat a few mice, but why did humans go toward meat as a significant part of our diets? Though of course, some people dispute that also.

    Perhaps there are other effects of eating cooked food that have helped, but the primary assumption that it's all about calories/hour of gathering/preparing/eating doesn't hold up so well. Here's an interesting link, for the perspective on this theory from some of the raw/paleo crowd. It requires a good bit of filtering for derogatory and insulting attitudes, but underneath that there are interesting points. And it includes a copy of an e-mail exchange between Ms. Herculano-Houzel and one of the raw/paleo folks – it's revealing, as far as Ms. Herculano-Houzel's assumptions about raw foods diets, which demonstrate that she does have room for becoming more informed on the topic. Sure wish the raw folks didn't have to be so insulting while they were at it – it's utterly unnecessary to making the case.'cooking-gave-us-big-brains'-bullshit/

    Anyway, the food questions are so interesting! People disagree so much, and often with so much vehemence. And it is so rarely mentioned that after all different people have differing individual needs, so that a diet that is perfectly sustaining for one person can be unsustaining for another, especially as an ongoing thing. We are not really quite so homogenous, humans as a species! All that evolving in different regional groups and all… and then more recently mixing and matching genes from all over the planet.

    Thanks Dave, for mentioning that this video was linked here, and JetGraphics, for posting it!


    1. Hi Shemaya,

      I've been mulling this over (the thesis that cooking makes more energy/nutrients available), and find it more or less out of my league.

      We LIKE both raw and cooked foods; often as alternate preparations for the very same substance. So I find both strategies to be interesting 'food for thought'... I'll be watching to see if we can spot any trends in payoff differential.

      Fortunately, we're currently more than adequately fed! Looking more at lowering intake/efficiency than raising it, as middle-age spread creeps upon us.