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Possum Stew – the old ways
“By the time I was 18 we owned three tractors, four cars and five computers,”says photographer Lucas Foglia. Growing up on a small farm in New York State, Foglia lived a very modern self-sufficient lifestyle. His family grew and preserved all their food. They bartered their crops for everything else they needed, including clothes, shoes and even visits to the dentist. But they also had all the attributes of modernity.

From 2006 he travelled through the southeastern US, befriending and photographing people who have abandoned the city to live off the grid and in many cases give up the accoutrements of modern technology. Some of those who opt for the simple life are driven by environmental concerns or religious beliefs; others fear economic collapse; and some just enjoy hunting and fending for themselves. Above: a father squeezes the teat of a goat to enable his son to drink its milk in Tennessee. Top right: possum-and-acorn stew is the order of the day at a settlement in North Carolina. Bottom right: the decomposing body of a bear partly stripped of its fur in Virginia

While none of the communities featured live in complete isolation — many regularly update websites using laptop computers or keep mobile phones, charging them by solar power — Foglia became aware of the struggles they face to maintain a basic way of life. Food can be hard to come by and the failure of a crop can mean families are forced to go hungry. Education is also an issue. Many, like these girls (above and left) photographed in Tennessee, are likely to be home-schooled in subjects close to their families’ preoccupations. Foglia found their education tended to centre around bushcraft and foraging rather than mathematics or literature.

Lucas Foglia’s project A Natural Order is published as a book by Nazraeli Press and will be exhibited at Les Rencontres d’Arles festival in Arles, France from July 2 to September 23 2012. Visit: lucasfoglia.com

Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site

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