“Food security is not in the supermarket. It’s not in the government. It’s not at the emergency services division. True food security is the historical normalcy of packing it in during the abundant times, building that in-house larder, and resting easy knowing that our little ones are not dependent on next week’s farmers’ market or the electronic cashiers at the supermarket.” –Joel Salatin, Folks this Ain’t Normal.
Becoming more self-sufficient and sustainable is not a hard process. All you have to do is start.
Here is a short list outlining what you can do to live more sustainably, reduce your footprint on the earth, and become more self-sufficient.
Absolutely number 1, this statement speaks for itself. The average distance food travels is 1,500 miles. Think of the man power, the packaging, the fuel, the refrigeration cost, the chemical cost that is involved with shipping food around the world. We eat chemically laden tomatoes from Mexico, and then wonder why we don’t like tomatoes!
Purchase seeds from reputable companies such as Seed Savers Exchange or Baker Creek Heirlooms. Grow a kitchen garden. Plant pots on your balcony. Find a sunny window and grow tomatoes, herbs, and lettuces. Start small – or go all in. Not only will you be living more sustainably and self-sufficiently, but you will also find great pride in growing (and sharing) your own food.
We live in a time in which everything runs on electricity. We mix our food with electricity. We dry our hair, our dishes, and our clothes with electricity. My husband and I have recently committed to lowering our electric bill as much as possible.
Although it is my dream to use solar energy, it just isn’t feasible for our plans of running a small business. So, to meet half way, we have decided to use as little electricity as possible. This means line drying our laundry. Air drying the dishes. Only using the washing machine, freezers, refrigerator, oven, and stove top (If you can find me an inexpensive wood fed stove/oven, I will be your best friend forever). Unplugging the internet and chargers, when not in use. Lamps in the evening.
Thankfully, the temperatures are dropping here in Kansas, so no need for AC. Heat your house with wood.
I love my industrial Kitchenaid stand mixer (thanks Craigslist), but I only use it for certain things like butter, frosting, and meringue. Everything else, I make by hand.
Electricity is something we take for granted, and there are so many ways to lessen our usage, if we do it intentionally.
Stop supporting large corporations. Give your hard-earned dollars to mom and pop shops. Shop your local Farm and Art Markets. Stock up on essential goods for when these options are not available, like in the winter. Stay in touch with your local farmer and purchase from them directly. Shop garage sales and auctions. Buy used. Support your local small businesses.
BUT, only buy what you absolutely need. Live minimal!
I have said this before, and I find it to be so true when your desire is to be more sustainable. By spending more time at home, we gain many benefits. I wrote a post that expands on a few of these benefits – 5 Reasons You Should Spend More Time At Home. You will save gas, time, money, and energy that you can put toward your family, meals, and home.
Do you have a local farmer? Befriend him/her. Know where your food comes from. Know how it was raised. Maybe even participate in the processing of your meat. Your farmer will be grateful for the help.
We hear “Farm Raised” “Free Range” “Organic” “Grain Fed” “Grass Fed”, but do we truly know what these mean? Do we truly know how that animal was raised?
Becoming friends with your local farmer, and then purchasing your meat from said farmer is a great way to live sustainably, and support a small business.
Now that you have a kitchen garden and local meat, use those foods to create delicious, healthy meals at home.
I see the new and popular boxed meal kits that are shipped to homes around the world. I think that has only one benefit: people are in their kitchens, preparing meals. But, how much did it take to ship those individual meal kits? What did it take to package and preserve them so they are shippable across the country? I am not going to say I know, because I don’t. I have never purchased one, and I don’t plan to.
If you want to live more sustainably, buy your staples in bulk from a coop like Azure Standard. Grow your own food, or purchase from local farmers, and then prepare your meals with locally grown food, at home.
Plastic bottles, styrofoam plates and cups, plastic utensils. These products are completely unnecessary and wasteful. The amount of energy that is wasted to create a product destined to sit in a landfill forever is ridiculous. Plastic does not decompose – ever. We need to use it intentionally and not off handedly.
Plastic is a great invention, and useful for so many things (like packaging our chicken and pork) but the key is to use it wisely and sparingly, and then recycle or re-use your waste.
Do you have a yard? Or maybe you even have acreage. Have you thought about raising your own meat?
Start with laying hens. You can raise a few laying hens or ducks in your backyard, and have full access to fresh laid eggs daily. Later on, as the hen ages, you will have a great source of meat for soups and stocks.
If you have the space, raise a pig for your family.
Buy a dairy cow so you can have access to fresh milk, cheeses, and butter. Or, if you live in town, raise dairy goats.
Growing your own meat at home is liberating.
How much money do you spend per month on entertainment? Eating out, movies, sporting events, activities, television. They all take such a large amount of our time and money.
One way to live sustainably is to use your time and your dollars wisely. Find happiness in spending time outdoors, rather than watching television, or driving back and forth to soccer practice and ballet.
Living sustainable is about simplifying. Reducing obligations to what truly matter in the long run. Sports are great. I played sports, and at times, I like for my children to play sports. They only become a problem when they start interfering with your goals at home, or cause stress and anxiety. Use your time intentionally.
Your garden produced exceptionally well this year. Now, it is time to preserve it. Stocking the larder was what people did before grocery stores. You never walked into a home that didn’t have food “put up” for winter.
Start with water bath canning your high acid foods, drying herbs and fruits. Then move on to pressure canning, and preserving meats by curing and smoking.
Store fruits and vegetables such as apples, potatoes, beets, radishes, carrots, and cabbage in a cool dark place to eat throughout the winter.
Braid garlic and onions.
Cure bacon, sopresseta salami, hams, and pancetta to hang in the larder.
If you don’t have a garden, buy in bulk at Farmer’s Markets, and then preserve them at home. This is a great way to remove yourself from purchasing through large corporations, and to live sustainably.
We do not have to be dependent on giants like Wal-Mart, Cosco, Target, or Kroger. We can live self-sufficiently in small communities. It only takes a little effort, but is well worth it in the end.
We, as a people, need to get back to our roots. To raise and grow things with our hands. To dig in the soil. Bake our own bread. Stock our larders and pantries.
It is so necessary to live sustainably, and to preserve this beautiful home God has given us.
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In All Things, Pray.