One of my favourite writers, Sharon Astyk, has started an "Independence Days" challenge. The idea is to work towards creating food independence: the ability to meet the majority of your food needs without relying on "the store". This is one of the biggest reasons I love our land: we have the space to have chickens, sheep, and a big garden.
Even if one does not subscribe to the idea that our world is headed for some fairly large changes, being able to produce some of your own food is still a really good thing. For so many of us, it really isn't too far from "everything is fine" to checking the bank balance to see if you have enough money to buy groceries. When some of those groceries can come from your own backyard, that's one less trip to the store, and a few more dollars that stay home.
So ... what have we done towards Food Independece lately? I will follow Sharon's categories, so that I can "play along" with the challenge in at least a semi-official way. :)
1. Plant something: I did indeed plant something this past week! Last weekend I started several seedlings in various containers. The pumpkin seeds sprouted in an amazingly short period of time, in fact, this past weekend I transplanted them into pots outside on the deck (covered by a wire cage to keep the chickens from eating them). I had also started some apple trees from seed that I set outside to freeze during the winter, and these are growing nicely in tin cans on the window ledge.
2. Harvest something: Well it's not really harvest season in my part of the world ... does transplanting count?
3. Preserve something: Again, not quite time yet. Well ... perhaps the purchase of an entire pig, butchered, and frozen, would count. We have a whole pig stored in our freezer, and the cost per pound was much less than what we could get at the grocery store. Oh! I know! I took the leftover pork chops that we'd eaten and ground them in the stainless steel meat grinder. We were then able to use the ground pork in the next couple of meals. That meat grinder was an excellent investment: we have also used it to grind up leftover bits that are not quite fit for human consumption and freeze them for dog food supplements. In the winter our outside dogs need extra calories, and this is a great way to store them.
4. Cook something: The Reluctant Farmer actually does the majority of our cooking these days, which is great! This morning, though, he mentioned we had no bread, so instead of going to the store, I put the necessary ingredients in the breadmaker (including one of the eggs from our chickens for extra protein) and let it run. We had healthy, preservative-free bread for dinner, along with our pork chili.
5. Manage your reserves: I have been making a shopping list for the last couple of weeks as tomorrow is 15% off Tuesday at the store I frequent. By waiting until the 'discount day' to do the big shopping run, I am able to save money on our grocery bill, and stock up our pantry when things are on sale.
6. Work on local food systems: We already purchase our beef from a local family, and we are becoming a 'local provider' with our eggs. I took the extra two dozen to work today, and a coworker took some home.
Have you thought about growing some food in your own space? You don't need five acres to put a zucchini seed in a pot on the deck, or scatter some lettuce seeds over potting soil in a dish on the window ledge. Will your neighbourhood allow you to have chickens? If you have hens and no roosters, you'll still get eggs, and nobody will complain about the noise (hens make the silliest muttering noises, but they certainly don't crow!). There is absolutely nothing so wonderful as a steady supply of eggs. And chickens eat bugs! :)
My chiropractor defined health as the ability to react to change. Anything that improves our ability to be resilient to change is a good thing, whether that change is a big worldwide one, or a smaller personal change like unemployment. I figure a few eggs a day would make a big difference if I were unemployed: omelettes may be boring, but they're nutritious. A zucchini in a pot or a few pumpkins in the garden would add some variety. Sure, it might not be enough to make all the difference, but ... if every bit helps, why not start?
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