Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Self Sufficiency

I've been thinking about doing a self sufficiency post ever since Zebu and Brooke asked for it but I kind of got hung up on what a misnomer "self sufficiency" is. You see, it's like cooking from scratch, where there are different levels or definitions of what "from scratch" means. Does it mean I buy the meat from the store and the flour and then make something with it? Does it mean I grind the wheat and buy the meat from a neighboring farmer and then make something from it? Does it mean that I grow the wheat and thresh it and grind it *and* raise and butcher the animal and then cook with it? None of us is or probably ever will be "self sufficient" in the true sense, we can only reduce our dependence on the larger economy.

A while back some friends and I listed ways in which we live outside of the economy. I was remarking that our super-plain Amish neighbors can survive because in many ways they have "checked out" of the larger world and created their own sub-economy that allows them to live on the scale they desire. I am fortunate to live where I do so that I can avail myself of their businesses and services; which allows me to live in this twilight zone of somewhere between the "real" world and the Amish sub-culture. Some of the things that I listed:

  1. garden and save seeds

  2. preserve food (I like dehydrating better than any other method)

  3. raise your own meat (especially important with pork. *especially* Chinese pork because it's fed on human waste and is linked to brain tumors)

  4. grind my own wheat. even better to grow your own.

  5. heat with wood and cut what you burn

  6. sew my own clothes

  7. wash on cold and never use a clothes drier

  8. stay out of grocery stores, buy locally at family owned bulk food stores

  9. make my own maple syrup

  10. raise bees for honey

  11. have laying hens

  12. use homemade cleaners

  13. make my own toothpaste (does a better job *and* avoids cancer, what could be better!)

  14. make my own soap

  15. use cloth diapers

  16. use cloth pads for monthly "issues" ;-)

  17. don't buy plastic. I don't store food in plastic because it leaches chemicals into food and especially so if you microwave it

  18. don't own a microwave

  19. cook in cast iron or stainless steel. I'm assuming that everybody knows that aluminum and teflon are bad for you.......

  20. spin the wool from our sheep

  21. cut the men/boy's hair at home

  22. mend clothes

  23. make our own candles

  24. raise/gather the herbs we use medicinally

  25. stay away from doctors when possible

  26. make butter and soft cheeses

  27. don't eat out anything that you can make at home

  28. have milk goats

  29. avoid immunizations. think you're safe now that mercury was removed? think again and read this

Now, some of those aren't so much self sufficiency as they are healthy living, but I threw them out there anyway. This isn't an exhaustive list by any means and some things on the list I have done/or can do but I don't always do, like candle making. I suppose if someone were just starting out I'd say to concentrate on growing your own food and especially meat or find a local source to buy from.

Any questions? ;-)