Friday, December 09, 2011

What Do I Need? -- Part 3

I have been impressed to do a series of posts on the basic necessities of twenty-first century life. Why?  Because independent living means that doing all of that stuff on our own, we need to know exactly what to consider.
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Food.
Obviously in order to survive, we need food. How do we move to independent resources of nutrition? 

One plant at a time...

Planting.
There are two main categories of planted foods: garden foods and orchard foods. We eat from each section, so we may as well know what they contain.

The garden is where I would find my roots and veggies (sorry, the joke was just waiting to be used). Leafy greens, legumes, and ground provision can be planted in gardens. Strawberries would also thrive here, as will other botanical "fruits" that grow only upwards. Note that flowering plants (like quinoa and buckwheat, which are pseudo-cereals) would be ideal in a garden setting. Gardens can be potted, or placed on a plot or several plots of land.

Here is an abbreviated list to make it simple:
Kale, Collard Greens, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Okra, Quinoa, Buckwheat, Strawberries, Beans of any sort, Peanuts, Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Potatoes, Carrots, Herbs

Then there is the orchard. This would contain any fruits that tends to extend its bounds and needs a lot of space. Melons, berries, trees, vines: these are the type of foods to expect in this environment. Again, here is a list:
Cucumbers, Squash (winter and summer types), Watermelon, Honeydew, Cantaloupe, Almonds, Cashews, Oranges, Lemons, Pumpkins, Berry shrubs of all types, Cherries, Grapefruit, Mango, Apples, Bananas, Plantain, Grapes
By technical standards, a vineyard is a separate entity altogether. But we were not being technical, so we lumped it with orchard. It is also good to note that some beans would be better in a vineyard. 

There is another section of foods, that being the grains. Corn, wheat, rice, spelt, millet, etc. These are more difficult to cultivate, but with God's help it can be accomplished.

It is important to understand that plants take time to grow. While garden foods will mature within a growing season, the orchard foods will most likely take longer. Trees and shrubs, even when bought as sapling instead of seeds, will take about three to five years to bear fruit. So what do I do in the meanwhile? 

I could continue to just buy at the grocery market and buy in bulk (and use good storage methods, like the ones below). Another option, however, is gleaning. A great example is found here.

Winter Harvest
I recently learned about this while attending a sustainable living seminar by Mountain Media Ministries. Hopefully, the concept of a greenhouse is understood. You create a warmer environment by trapping the sun's energy (which, understandably, is hot). This helps plants to grow or at least thrive when the outside temperature is too cold. Sounds great, but it is still a heavy investment. A more budget friendly option is... HOOP HOUSES!!! It does the exact same thing as a greenhouse. The presenters of the seminar directed us to this link: http://www.hoophouse.com/

This system will allow you to continue to pick fresh foods from your garden, because you are extending the growing period by maintaining a warm place for growth. How cool is that?


Storing.
So, now that I have all of this food, what do I do with it (we are assuming that it is too much to eat)? I have to keep it in such a manner that it will not spoil and waste. It is always best to pick foods fresh and use them the same day that they are picked. However, the colder season does not allow that luxury; so we have to use other means. Solution #1: Root Cellar!!! This is an old-fashioned method of refrigeration. If it is built properly, it will keep food year round with minimal spoilage. Solution #2: Icebox. If you notice, this solution is not followed by exclamation. That is because it is not a universal fix. In any case, I could opt for an indoor icebox (year-round), or an outdoor one (winter season only). This solution is very cost effective if I were to live in a location with much snow.

By the way, Wikipedia has articles on both of these options (#1 and #2), which is great to get a general overview. Do real research for more information.

Other methods are dehydrating and canning. I must admit: I absolutely love dried fruit (especially figs and mangoes). Thankfully, they are the healthiest type of processed food! The highest concentration of nutrients with the least amount of processing. All you have to do is remove all of the moisture (hydration) from the food, and it can be kept forever. Seriously. They can go stale, though; so be sure to store them in airtight or glass containers. (Here is an awesome non-electric dryer). Then there is canning. I have limited knowledge in canning; but I can do some more research and write up a separate post on that later.

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"Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all."
~Jeremiah 31:12~

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