Food increases self-reliance. So take control of your life by managing it well. But that takes shape in small ways. By making small steps, one after the other. And here are two you can take today to start (or escalate) your own journey.
I think we all know how critical food is to life. So when it comes to being self-reliant, it makes sense to start with food.
1. Nourish yourself with sustainable eating habits
Let’s face it. Besides money, food is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you start examining habits.
So, it makes sense that reevaluating eating habits is close to the top of the list when transitioning to a self-sufficient lifestyle. I’m talking embracing whole foods, cooking from scratch, and reducing reliance on processed foods. These are all traditional skills anyway. And here’s how you can do it.
Opt for locally sourced ingredients, support farmers’ through markets and consider joining a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. Doing this promotes sustainable practices and encourages healthier living.
As does seasonal eating. Many cultures around the globe practices this already. But in the US, we encourage forced growth and imported foods to have something year-round. But if you look at nature, most foods have favorable seasons and climates. Ever wondered why?
The reality is, the closer to home you shop, the fresher, more nutritious & tastier your food will be. And before you know it, you’ll go from eating globally sourced foods to state-grown foods. Then from there to your town, on to your own backyard (or maybe your neighbors)! Eating with the seasons (produce, meat & seafood) helps us remain in step with the natural rhythm of Earth. And isn’t that lovely?!
But, I’ll say this again. Start small.
Self-sufficient living doesn’t happen overnight. It’s all about mindset before anything else.
A poor relationship between food and your body has a big impact on daily life. So be compassionate with yourself.
Don’t feel the need to jump in all at once. Doesn’t matter who around you is doing what. The best practices that stick are the ones that grow over time. Gaining momentum in your early stages will help you maintain them in the long run. We’re talking about self-reliance, but it’s not possible (or maybe desirable) to be 100% solo.
Schedule a farm tour – or two. Get familiar with how food is grown and where it comes from. Supporting local producers is part of a self-sufficient lifestyle! Do this by reading, researching, asking questions & finding answers. (By the way, this is my approach to most of life! I talk about building a library for greater self-sufficient living in this post.)
Then, try seasonal and local foods. Remember, food increases self-sufficiency. But be gentle – go slowly. What you’re going for here is to reprogram your taste buds. Here are some resources to get you started:
- LocalHarvest: Find farmers’ markets, family farms, and CSAs near you. Be sure to search your county’s Agriculture Services website too!
- SeasonalFoodGuide.org or searching “seasonal seafood guide + (your) Zip code” may help you. Don’t forget to speak with local gardeners, fishermen & hunters too!
- Allrecipes: A popular website featuring a vast collection of recipes for all skill levels, helping you cook from scratch.
Now, speaking of food…
2. Growing your own food in small living spaces is more than possible!
Get a hands on connection with your food by growing something. Even in a small space, you can cultivate your own fresh produce or herbs. From seed, starts or transplants – there’s something for every stage!
Explore different gardening strategies. And there’s lots of those too. Like, container, vertical, square-foot or indoor gardening. Each of these will make the most of your available space. So, make use of food for self-reliance at home. Here’s a great read I recommend on square foot gardening. *Hint, hint* I’m going to try my hand at it soon!
It’s possible to grow herbs, salad greens, and compact vegetables like cherry tomatoes or peppers. And you not only get access to pesticide-free, nutritious food. You’ll also enjoy the therapeutic benefits of gardening. And it’s the perfect activity for little hands that want to help.
But, let me share some of my first year gardening experience. It was….something.
I knew food impacts self-reliance so I started there. Surprisingly, I successfully started seeds on our balcony using the winter-sowing method. The concept is simple really. Using empty opaque plastic containers (what a great way to repurpose right?!) like empty milk gallons or juice containers, you create mini greenhouses. The container should be cut with a hinge closure and the base filled with moistened potting soil/your favorite planting matrix.
Once you’ve planted your seeds in the soil, close the container (with heavy duty tape if you had to cut a hinge around the midline) and set it outside in the elements uncapped. Since sunlight will be trapped inside, the seeds/seedlings have all they need to grow.
So although the containers are directly exposed to frost/ice, there is little risk to the plants inside. And once outdoor temperatures rise, the seeds will germinate. Afterwards, those seedlings are transplanted into larger containers or directly into the ground/raised beds.
There are several ways to get started
There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on gardening tools and accessories to get started. There are even ways to grow food in small spaces without dirt. Aquaponics, anybody? This method of growing food requires a little more than just a milk jug and soil, but it’s nonetheless a great way to produce a lot of food in a little space. Check out these resources:
- Small space gardening channels: Epic Gardening – A comprehensive website and YouTube channel that covers various gardening techniques, including small-space gardening. Guten Gardening – Extreme Urban Gardening. Need I really say more? This former teacher truly tests the limits of how much can be grown in a small space & explains it easily.
- Instagram: Follow accounts like @apartment_homestead_, @bunk.bed.homestead and @urbanveggiepatch for inspiration and practical tips on urban gardening.
- Winter-sowing information: Jessica @ThreeRiversHomestead has a highlight on her IG channel & several YouTube videos too. Sheryl Mann’s Winter Sowing (Vegetable Gardening) FB group has Q&A threads worth their weight in gold.
So, if you’re on the fence about being more independent, then start with your food. It’s one of the most basic necessities. Relying 100% on someone else for that is simply unwise. Don’t put off being resilient.
You don’t have to start making bread or raising quail – though those are small space & beginner friendly skills.
Start by reading your labels. Cutting down on processed foods. Eliminating natural flavors & food colorings. Trading one snack for another (or a cleaner version). Then go from there. You’ve got this, Lovely.
🌱 Start Small. Start Now. Start where you are with what you have. The rest will follow.🌱
Is being more self-sufficient is something you’re interested in but you’re not sure where to begin? Check out the Self-Sufficient Living Roadmap! I designed it to help you eliminate some of the overwhelm with starting an incredibly massive journey.
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the Village Reservoir
Your one stop shop for all the great resources recommended in this post.
- Village Posts:
- Virtual Resources:
- Finding food
- Growing food
- Epic Gardening, Guten Gardening – Extreme Urban Gardening
- Winter sowing method resources: Winter Sowing YouTube Video Playlist, Sheryl Mann’s Winter Sowing (Vegetable Gardening) FB group, Jessica @ThreeRiversHomestead
- Instagram Inspiration: @apartment_homestead_, @bunk.bed.homestead and @urbanveggiepatch
- Recommended Reads