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Saturday, April 9, 2005

The path to self-reliance. Step 2: Make your own food.

Step two on the path to self-reliance and independence is making your own food. This step is actually four-fold.

If you've taken step one, you know how difficult that step is to take when you're purchasing your food from the grocery store. By nature, almost everything in that store has to come prepackaged. And it is generally packed in small quantities. And what you have left are a lot of empty packages that you have to do something with.

The solution is simple: Stop buying your food from the grocery store!

Here are the four folds of this step: Veggies, bread, meats and what I refer to as the dairy category (milk, eggs and butter).

First off, make a garden. If you've got any amount of dirt that you can take a shovel to and dig up for a garden, do it. It doesn't matter if it's 5-feet-by-5-feet or an acre, just do it (but smaller is better your first time). You don't need a tiller, get yourself a shovel, a digging fork, a hoe and a garden rake (not a lawn rake). And buy the best you can afford (Lehman's sells some very good garden tools for not much). If you don't have the land, you have two options. Get a handful of those large plant pots and grow something in them. Or you can work for one of your local market gardeners in exchange for fresh produce. Noel and I do all three!

Secondly, learn to bake. The slabs of white glue they sell in the stores barely qualifies as bread anyway, and the stuff you'll make will be a thousand times more healthy (not to mention more tasty). You can buy wheat berries (unground wheat will need a grinder, we were blessed to find a small one at the Salvation Army for a few bucks but will soon be getting a bigger one) by the bucket for a small amount of money and they will keep for a very long time if stored properly. There is nothing better than coming home to the smell of Noel's fresh homemade bread. And you can make anything your heart desires. Noel has recently made home-made cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, hotdog and hamburger buns and even her own pita bread.

Third, get yourself a hunting and fishing license along with a $10 fishing pole and reel and a $80 20 gauge shotgun and go fishing and hunting.

Some folks will wonder why I put the hunting/fishing step before owning livestock. The answer is simple. Folks who have not made the most important step on the path to independence may not be able to keep livestock, but they can still go hunting and fishing.

Lastly, dairy. I don't advocate someone who has never owned livestock to just run out and purchase some. Start out by finding someone who sells their surplus dairy stuff. You haven't tasted milk, butter or eggs till you've had them fresh from the farm. Get to know the folks that you buy from, they'll teach you more than any book ever will. And we'll tackle owning livestock in a future step down our path.

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