Danielle Nykoluk isn’t letting the problems of the world eat her – she’s doing something about them by thinking about what she eats.
As a Traditional Wisdom, Modern Kitchen (TWMK) Certified Teacher, Danielle is part of a movement that makes information about traditional cooking available and affordable. People who are ready to start making changes in their kitchens can improve their eating habits and relationships with food – contributing to a more sustainable community while they’re at it.
“Traditional wisdom teaches a lot about connecting the farmer to the consumer so you can avoid processing and the middleman,” Danielle says.
Like many commodities in our fast-paced, modern world, food can often be taken for granted, wasted, misused, and misunderstood.
“I think the barrier right now preventing people from connecting with their farmers is that they don’t necessarily know what to do. This kind of information helps people know what to ask, what to look for, and how to properly prepare it once they get it.”
Drawing inspiration from books like Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, Danielle emphasizes the importance of reacquainting ourselves with techniques we’ve lost touch with, like rendering fat or fermentation; skills that might have been second nature to our grandmothers or great-grandmothers.
“We’re disconnected from it because the grocery store now exists, so it doesn’t seem necessary, and people don’t have the time or resources to invest in that kind of thing.”
Growing up in a typical home, Danielle didn’t give much thought to sustainable eating or traditional practices.
“I was pretty mainstream; my parents were teachers. My mom would cook, but she’d be buying a lot of canned spaghetti sauce and stuff like that. We ate home-cooked meals, but they were pre-made things, like frozen chicken breast and a can of salsa. Not from scratch, but as scratch as they could do with their time constraints.”
It wasn’t until she started university that Danielle began to see things with a new perspective.
“That’s the first time I actually conceptualized how many people are in the world and how big this world is.”
Though she wasn’t in any environmental issues courses, university made Danielle more aware of global concerns like overpopulation and climate change – forces worsened by a consumer-focused Western culture .
“You kind of just sit there and think, ‘I’m just this drop in a bucket.’ You go through this phase of feeling kind of lost and hopeless about everything and you sit in this dark place for a while.”
Danielle felt helpless to make a difference, but this fuelled the motivation she needed to make changes in her life.
“I wanted to blame somebody, but it’s not worth blaming anyone because it doesn’t really matter. Once you get over that you can do one of two things: let it eat you, or do something about it.”
Danielle currently lives in an apartment in West Broadway, with plans to begin homesteading on some family land just outside the city with her partner. It seems like she is doing a lot about “it,” but Danielle realizes not everyone has the ability to commit to the same type of lifestyle that she does.
“Doing anything different, that is somewhat beneficial, is better than doing nothing at all,” she says. “It’s doing what you can, to slowly shift over time and make it obtainable.”