“I am from Lithuania, which is a small country on the Baltic Sea, and which at that time was enveloped into the Soviet system. I remember that my Grandfather would ensconce himself into a small room in the attic and listen to Radio Free America. I would sometimes listen too, at first surreptitiously, but later he would allow me, and even encourage me to get to America if I could. It was not so easy; we were not allowed to leave.
My chance came in 1991 when Lithuania broke with the Soviets. For the first time in fifty years, Lithuanians were allowed to travel, and I went to Florida. I was 29. I learned English and worked in a bar.
In my mind everything American was best, and I accepted without question the official dietary advise that espoused low fats, fake fats, no salt, no egg yolks, shelf life packaged foods, etc. But the new food wasn’t working for me; on one trip back to visit family in Lithuania, I visited a doctor for a checkup. After a few quick glances he told me that if I didn’t change how I was living, “I wouldn’t need a doctor.” My thyroid was protruding as a huge lump on my neck. I resolved to learn about nutrition, and to renature my diet.
It was about then that a series of hurricanes swept Florida, the economy crashed, and I lost my job. However, through an friend, I was offered a job in a nice hotel in Las Vegas. That’s where I met David. David was half Lithuanian, who had never heard a word of Lithuanian spoken. David was from Alaska, and was in Las Vegas, at first for law school, and later as a bankruptcy attorney, but each summer he would go back to his remote Alaskan salmon fishing site which was on Kalgin Island, in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.
David invited me to go with him to Alaska for six weeks. I didn’t know what to expect, but the mortgage collapse had started, and the club where I had been working as a bartender closed, so I went. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; mountains rising out of the ocean and disappearing into the clouds, gorgeous beaches, lush forests, extensive patches of wild berries where no one had ever picked, salmon, halibut, moose, eagles swooping down on the creek where David had a cabin, and pulling out large salmon, clams, snails, muscles, seaweeds, herbs, and tides that dropped 30 feet, exposing a mile of tidelands, and then a few hours later the water would be at the cabin. I was overwhelmed, there were natural foods laying around everywhere, surrounded by amazing beauty. David was delighted that I was so enthralled.