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Adam Haritan, Founder of Learn Your Land, on How Reading Is a Priority in His Life

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Adam Haritan is a wild food enthusiast, researcher, forager, and founder of Learn Your Land.

Adam studied nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh, where he discovered the benefits of wild foods for human health. By leading foraging classes, walks, workshops, and other events dedicated to nature lovers, he teaches people valuable skills about the land.

A few years ago, he realized that Pennsylvania’s community of nature enthusiasts had no central online platform, so he decided to build it.

Learn Your Land is a free resource that brings together outdoor enthusiasts, with a collective purpose to help people connect more with nature.

It allows you to search and get in touch with Pennsylvania’s naturalists by region and topic, and attend local events that help you learn more about plant and mushroom identification, wild food foraging, birding, animal tracking, and the likes.

A better understanding of this topic would help us establish a deeper connection with our land, and a desire to protect and serve it in beautiful ways. It’s also no secret that wild plants are, on average, more nutritious than the extremely processed foods we’ve been consuming lately.

Keep on reading to find out what books left deep marks on Adam, what lessons he learned from them, and how reading is a priority in his life.

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

Infinite Self by Stuart Wilde is my pick for favorite “non-business” book, though it certainly has many applications in the field of business. I’ve read this book more times than any other book and I’ve given it away as a gift more times than I can count. Infinite Self is Stuart Wilde’s philosophy for living a meaningful and struggle-free life. His message is heavily influenced by the Taoist sages of the past, though the entire book is extremely relevant today in all fields of life.

The Greatest Salesman In The World by Og Mandino is my pick for favorite book in the business field. Unlike most business books, The Greatest Salesman In The World is presented in parable form. Additionally, this book contains timeless passages and lessons that are meant to be read— both silently and aloud — on a daily basis, multiple times per day. It’s not difficult to see what major effects a book presented in this format can have on one’s life.

Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

In Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao Te Ching, he writes in verse 74:

If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold onto.”

I had never heard such wisdom whenever I first encountered those words, and as soon as I absorbed that verse and put it into practice, my life improved quite significantly. I realized that I was holding onto many things that no longer served me — including relationships, jobs, material possessions, ideas, etc. — and by letting go of these things, or least not feeling the need to be attached to them, I was able to lessen the load of struggle in my life. I learned that just because something worked for me in the past, that didn’t mean it would continue to serve my highest purpose moving forward in life. I had to be okay with change, and more importantly, I had to be okay with letting things go.

What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

In addition to the first 3 books I read, other books that have had the biggest impacts on my life include the dozens of nutrition and health books I consumed as I was transitioning out of the music field. (Did I forget to mention that I played drums in a heavy metal band?) One book that immediately comes to mind is Nutrition And Physical Degeneration by Weston Price. Additionally, there have been a few books that have been instrumental in helping me figure out my role, purpose, and mission in life. Such books include Iron John: A Book About Men by Robert Bly; King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Doug Gillette and Robert L. Moore; and Way Of The Superior Man by David Deida.

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What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

For anyone interested in my career path, I’d recommend books in various genres. On a real practical level, I’d certainly recommend reading any and all plant/mushroom/tree/ecology/nature books you can acquire. It’s even more helpful to read the books that pertain specifically to your ecosystem and bioregion. Additionally, I’d also recommend reading a plethora of business and marketing books — both old and new alike. Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, and anything by Seth Godin would be my top recommendations. And of course, every book I mentioned in the previous answers are strongly recommended as well.

I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

I read every single day, though the amount of time I read can vary. Some days I read for two hours; some days I can only manage 30 minutes. Regardless, it’s still important that I read something every day. My preferred method is to read physical books, and more and more I’m utilizing the public library system for all my reading needs. I don’t have the space to physically hold onto every single book that I’ve read, so I take extreme pleasure in knowing that there’s a timeline and return date associated with most books in my possession.

How do you make time for reading?

Reading is a priority in my life. It’s one of my non-negotiables… just like exercising, walking in nature, eating high quality food, etc. I don’t necessarily have to plan for any of these activities because they’ve become part of my daily routine. I almost always read before I go to bed, so even if my day is overrun with non-stop work from sunrise to sunset, I know I can look forward to those final minutes as an ideal time to squeeze in a few pages of a good book.

Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

It’s interesting — whenever I read books, I only occasionally take notes. However, what I haven’t mentioned thus far is that I do a lot of researching by poring through reference books and scientific journals. I do take copious notes while reading these latter resources, especially when I’m preparing to film a video, host an event, or write an article for Learn Your Land. I utilize a spiral bound notebook and keep writing until all the pages are filled. At that point I’ll move onto another notebook. It may sound like an unorganized approach, but it’s been working so far!

How do you choose what books to read next?

I don’t have a systematic approach when choosing which books to read next. Rather, it’s all dictated based on what I’m currently interested in at the time. If I see a lot of ferns on walk through the woods and they pique my interest, I may head to the local library and check-out a few (or a lot!) of books related to ferns. The same could go for lichens or mushrooms. Many times I’ll visit the library with no intentions in mind, though I’ll leave with 20 materials that’ll surely keep me very well occupied for the next several weeks!

Do you prioritize those recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

I don’t necessarily prioritize books recommended by other people, though I’ll certainly keep anyone’s suggestions in mind. The people I trust the most whenever it comes to book recommendations are my brothers and close friends. They know what I like and they know what I don’t like, and I’ve come to trust that whatever they recommend must be worth my time.

Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

I’m currently reading Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin, which tells the 60-year story of how one industrial company’s pollutants have been linked to various cancers in a small New Jersey town. I chose to read this book because I’m very interested in learning the origin of diseases and cancers within the human body. In the United States, roughly 4,600 new cancer cases are diagnosed each day, and though much progress has been made in the field of oncology, many people are still scratching their heads. After reading this book, at least part of the truth becomes obvious — that daily exposure to synthetic and semi-synthetic chemical compounds is strongly linked to many of these cancer cases. The question is, what do we do about it?

Links where you can follow Adam Haritan or find out more about his projects:

All books mentioned by Adam Haritan in this interview:


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