Ways to Produce Our Own Food
Maybe you’ve noticed the prices of groceries have gone up lately. Or perhaps you’ve noticed that the supply of baby formula has been interrupted for almost two years. Or maybe you’ve heard rumors of bugs being added to food in order to add protein due to potential meat shortages? These things can seem a little alarming when we think about how comfortable we are in our way of life.
Church leaders have encouraged us to be productive, and to provide for our families as much as we can for many years. As an example, the Church actually owns many farms, ranches and orchards that produce food that are processed in the Church canneries, that are available for families who are victims of natural disasters, war or political strife, or other difficulties. In recent years, the interest in producing our own foods has grown in general among many people, like we talked about last week. But today we are going to dive a little deeper into ways that we can produce our own food in our own backyards, and how to preserve our own food.
One popular way that many people are producing their own food is gardening. Many of us have a garden in our backyard to grow summer vegetables. Depending on our available space, we can have different types of gardens to promote our self-reliance. If we have a yard, we can design a garden based on our needs and space available. We recently moved into a house with a yard from our small townhome, so we will be planting our first traditional garden this spring! While we lived in our townhome, and didn’t have a yard space, we purchased a garden box to grow some tomatoes and peppers, and garden boxes for herbs and flowers.
Something that has become more popular again in the last couple years is owning livestock, particularly chickens. Being able to have animals for milk, eggs, or meat provides a safety-net for times where we see increases in grocery bills. Be sure to check with your HOA or other local laws about which animals and how many are allowed where you live.
I grew up helping my grandmother canning things like pears, applesauce, and peaches in the fall. It was a busy time of year, but I remember loving it, because it was when “Grandpa cooked” meaning he was bringing home hamburgers or pizza after work. Canning can be done one of two ways: water bath canning, or pressure canning. Water bath canning is for high acid or high sugar foods, such as pickles, fruits, and jams. Water bath canners usually come with a rack. You can also purchase canning accessories such as bottle tongs in a kit. Pressure canning is for things like meats, vegetables, or stews. These are different from the water bath canner. Canning supplies which are generally reusable (minus the sealing lids) which makes it a more sustainable and cost effective way to preserve food. Many foods that are canned at home are also healthier than those cans from the stores. Canned foods can last for years, but should be eaten oldest to newest, as the nutritional value deteriorates over time.
Freeze-drying is another popular way to preserve food. It does require a freeze-dryer. Food is placed in the trays and dried for about 24 hours. Freeze-dried food when stored in an air-tight container can last about 20 years! It also maintains its nutritional value longer than most other preservation methods.
Freezing food can be one of the simplest ways to preserve food. Some vegetables and fruits can simply be washed, chopped or sliced, and placed in freezer-safe containers or bags and placed in the freezer. Others will need to be blanched (briefly boiled) to prepare for the freezer, but then can be frozen.
Fermenting food is when we coat food in a brine. This can be easier on the gut for people who have gut issues like leaky gut, or IBS. This method can be trickier than the others, because if the brine is not the right consistency of water to salt, it can mold, so it takes more monitoring. Sauerkraut and kimchi are popular foods to start with when learning how to ferment food.
Smoking is another way to preserve food, particularly meats. You can smoke food on a grill, though a smoker does simplify the process. If stored in a proper airtight packaging, smoked meats last about 6 months.
Growing, raising, and preserving our own foods can lessen our reliance on grocery stores, and our supply chains. As we increase our self-reliance, the Lord can bless us with resources to improve our skills.