Yes­ter­day’s food, to­day’s ta­ble

‘Mod­ern Stone Age Fam­ily’ trav­els the world to find a healthy bal­ance in a mod­ern life

Sunday Star - - FRONT PAGE - By HAN­NAH COMBS and CHRISTINA SCHINDLER [email protected]­times.com CHURCH HILL

— “It’s about bal­ance. It’s about con­nec­tions. It’s about learn­ing to live and eat like hu­mans again,” say the Schindlers, Bill and Christina.

The Church Hill res­i­dents and ed­u­ca­tors took their jour­ney and shared with their fam­ily, and through so­cial me­dia and the web, to any­one who wanted to be able to share the ex­pe­ri­ence of liv­ing life abroad for a year with them. Cov­er­ing four con­ti­nents and 13 coun­tries, the Schindlers — along with their three chil­dren — em­barked on their trip in Au­gust 2017 and re­turned to Mary­land just be­fore school be­gan this past fall.

The two are self-de­scribed op­po­sites. Christina for­merly over­saw in­struc­tional technology at Queen Anne’s County Pub­lic Schools and now works for Caro­line County, and Bill is an ar­chae­ol­o­gist-chef and ex­pert in prim­i­tive technology at Wash­ing­ton Col­lege in Chestertown.

They say, “She can build a web­site, but he can knap a stone tool.”

Blend­ing those op­po­site ends of the technology spec­trum make for amus­ing con­ver­sa­tions over fer­mented, home-cooked meals, the cou­ple says, but there is no deny­ing they are both aligned to find­ing a healthy bal­ance in this mod­ern world.

Dubbed “The Mod­ern Stone Age Fam­ily” by a news ar­ti­cle in the Lon­don Times, the name quickly took hold.

Al­though their trav­els and in­ter­est gained no­to­ri­ety, when Christina first be­gan de­pict­ing the fam­ily’s ad­ven­tures on In­sta­gram she

said, “We are far from per­fect. If any­thing, ‘The Mod­ern Stone Age Fam­ily’ is a way to show how much we need to learn. By vis­it­ing dif­fer­ent coun­tries and learn­ing from dif­fer­ent cul­tures, we can de­velop a deeper un­der­stand­ing of what it means to be hu­man and truly how to live again — not just be alive. This jour­ney is about find­ing out how our fam­ily op­er­ates, how we can im­prove to be our best selves pos­si­ble and how we can sup­port one an­other along this jour­ney.”

Their year abroad, liv­ing just out­side Dublin city cen­ter in Air­field Es­tate, a 38acre farm, came at a time that was fit­ting for both of their ca­reers.

Bill was on a sab­bat­i­cal from Wash­ing­ton Col­lege to con­duct re­search and to write, while Christina was able to take a leave of ab­sence. That didn’t mean they were granted a year’s va­ca­tion, Christina said. They would con­tinue to travel and work across Europe and Asia, and vis­ited Thai­land, Ger­many, Italy, Si­cily, Slo­vakia, Greece, Crete and, in Africa, Kenya and South Africa, to name a few of the 17 coun­tries they vis­ited.

The chil­dren‚ Bri­anna, Billy and Alyssa — in high school, mid­dle school and ele­men­tary school, re­spec­tively — were en­rolled in school while the fam­ily used Ire­land for their Euro­pean home base as an op­por­tu­nity, Schindler said, that al­lowed them to be­come in­volved in the com­mu­nity, forg­ing re­la­tion­ships with par­ents, other stu­dents and col­leagues.

No stranger to bring­ing his con­cept of liv­ing and eat­ing like our ear­li­est an­ces­tors, three years ago Bill co-starred in Na­tional Geo­graphic’s tele­vi­sion se­ries, “The Great Hu­man Race.” The year in Ire­land was in many ways an ex­ten­sion of the Na­tional Geo­graphic ex­pe­ri­ence and was a pow­er­ful re­search col­lab­o­ra­tion bridg­ing two aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions — Wash­ing­ton Col­lege in Chestertown and Univer­sity Col­lege Dublin in Ire­land — with Odaios Foods, a cut­ting edge food-ser­vice provider in Ire­land to form an in­no­va­tive Food Evo­lu­tions project.

The project fuses an­thro­po­log­i­cal knowl­edge, food and farm­ing sciences, culi­nary arts and ex­per­i­men­tal ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ev­i­dence to en­cour­age lead­er­ship, in­no­va­tion and change in mod­ern food habits and culi­nary prac­tices, and to ed­u­cate the pub­lic to take con­trol of their food and eat like hu­mans again.

The Food Evo­lu­tions project helped to lay much of the foun­da­tion on which Bill’s new­est project, the Eastern Shore Food Lab at Wash­ing­ton Col­lege, is built.

Learn­ing to cook from scratch is an im­por­tant part of their fam­ily dy­namic, Christina said. Whether mak­ing home­made pasta, cook­ing fresh veni­son or bak­ing a birth­day cake, all three kids are hands-on with their food and diet, and take an avid in­ter­est in their fa­ther’s work.

Spend­ing a year to­gether brought the fam­ily closer and al­lowed the cou­ple to have qual­ity time with each other and cre­ate new re­la­tion­ships with their chil­dren. Away from the con­stant flurry of their Amer­i­can life­style and friend­ships, Christina said, it al­lowed them to have more time with each child, to get to know them as in­di­vid­u­als and deepen those re­la­tion­ships.

All the chil­dren have be­come ex­cel­lent cooks, she

MOD­ERN STONE AGE FAM­ILY PHO­TOS

Bill Schindler drinks cow’s blood in Kenya where draw­ing blood from a live an­i­mal is con­sid­ered a sus­tain­able and nu­tri­ent-dense re­source. “When you peel back the lay­ers and take an in­formed, con­tex­tual look at the con­sump­tion pat­terns of peo­ple all over the world,” Schindler said, “what would ini­tially seem odd takes on new mean­ing.”

MOD­ERN STONE AGE FAM­ILY

Christina Schindler and daugh­ter Bri­anna ob­serve how in­sects are pre­pared and served in Thai­land.

MOD­ERN STONE AGE FAM­ILY

A fam­ily photo taken in Belder­rig, County Mayo, Ire­land.

MOD­ERN STONE AGE FAM­ILY

A meal rich in tra­di­tion pro­vided by the vil­lagers in Thai­land in­cluded roasted crick­ets to snack on; fruit such as man­goes, rose ap­ples and ba­nanas; grilled snake­head fish; rice; spices; and veg­eta­bles — all in­gre­di­ents (ex­clud­ing ba­nanas) pro­vided from the ant farm­ers’ prop­erty. Each com­po­nent of ev­ery food was con­sumed ripe, de­li­cious, made by hand, steeped in tra­di­tion and nu­tri­ent dense.

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