Self-sufficiency

Most of us agree that superior nutrition and taste are main reasons we grow our own food. Cost effectiveness is a close second. And there are other equally important reasons like our wish to reduce our carbon footprint and our discomfort with giant, profit-motivated corporations having sole charge of our food supply and allowing food quality and nutrition to take a back seat to profit and greed.

But have you ever considered that the line between having enough to eat and not enough can get pretty thin? Because of circumstances beyond our control, tornado, flood, job loss, economic collapse, whatever, we could find ourselves in a situation where it would be good to have the basic skills in place to raise and forage for as much of our food as we possibly can.

According to the Nov. 2009 USDA Household Food Security Report, one in seven Americans, nearly 50 million people, did not get enough food in the year 2008. The World Summit on Food Security in Rome reported that the whole world is hungrier than ever before.

Perhaps the easiest way you can take charge of your food supply is to raise a garden full of vegetables, plant some fruit trees, forage for edible wild plants. Raising animals for food takes more planning and facilities, but you should not rule it out.

How do you learn the skills needed for such an undertaking? Your county extension service is a good place to start. They have information on raising, storing, processing almost every kind of food you need. The internet is also a vast source of information. Mother Earth News is a paper magazine as well as an online resource, www.motherearthnews.com, for folks interested in self-sufficient living. You can sign up for a free newsletter on organic gardening topics at www.about.com or simply go to the website.

The most obvious and over-looked source of information is our elderly friends, neighbors and relatives. Many of them lived through hard times and have a store of tips for making do with little or nothing. The older they are, the more they have experienced, and the more they know and can teach you if your mind is open and willing.

So, don’t let those old skills die. Whether you’d like to learn gardening, animal husbandry, cheese making, bread baking, soap making, or farming with horses, read, read, read and go pick someone’s brain. If you learn something, put it to use, pass it on to others, and most important, teach your children and grandchildren.

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