The Anatomy of Self-Sufficiency

 

In many ways, the humble loaf of bread is a perfect place to start when it comes to eliminating a regular purchase at the grocery store.  The amount of work required, compared to the satisfaction received from the final product, is more than worth it, and in today’s world of unnecessary preservatives, the benefits of knowing exactly what’s in your food is more than worth it.  Flour, water, yeast, sugar, salt. Easy.

But…

From a self-sufficiency standpoint, the humble loaf of bread becomes a true labor of love.  Sure, we have plenty of bulk flour stored in the basement.  And eventually, rather than buying flour, I’d like to start buying wheat and grinding what I need (or rather, let my KitchenAid grind what I need.)  But to really know where my food comes from, to really have a hand in every part, requires growing the wheat (and harvesting, and threshing, and drying…), collecting wild yeast, keeping bees (or growing sugar cane, or stevia.), pumping water from a well, and… what? MINING my own SALT?

Quite a lot more work than running to the grocery store.  But there was a time when that wasn’t an option.  And there could be a time when, due to society-wide financial hardships, or some kind of major emergency, it’s not an option to just run to the store.  I certainly try to buy things in bulk that I know we’ll use, and I’d like to grow as much of our own food as possible, but to think we can do every little thing on our farm is not only naive, but also very isolationist.

Living in a place where people use their land — not just for running cattle or storing their toys, but for growing food and raising a variety of animals — has re-ignited my desire to get involved with a community of other people that are trying to do what we’re trying to do.  I want to meet and work with beekeepers and fruit growers.  I want to trade chicken eggs for fresh plums or a bag of wheat.  If I can’t reasonably have my own hand in every aspect of the food we eat, I want to be able to shake the hands of the people that do.  It’s one of the biggest reasons behind the local food movement, and it’s my own ultimate goal in choosing to live this life.

That, and the plum jam.

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