Euell Gibbons: Man is a Part of the Total Ecology

I relish food writing; almost as much as I savor the act of eating itself. I own several volumes of gustative essays, among them Secret Ingredients, The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink edited by David Remnick which includes the conversant, creative non-fiction writer John McPhee reflecting on a weekend spent with famed forager Euell Gibbons, who stated:

I don't want to destroy; I want to play the part I am supposed to play in relation to plants. I come to a persimmon tree and the tree is growing something sweet, so I'll eat it and scatter the seed. When I do that, I'm carrying out the role I'm supposed to be carrying out. Nature has many, many balances, and we have to find a balance that includes man. If man accepts that he has to be a part of the balance, he must reflect the idea of the conquest of nature. Whenever I read that phrase 'conquest of nature,' I feel a little depressed. Man is a part of the total ecology. He has a role to play, and he can't play it if he doesn't know what it is - or if he thinks that he is conquering something.'