Why It’s Vital to Learn to Grow and Preserve Your Own Food

DSCN3808When we share, either on the blog or in person, why we believe it’s so important to grow and preserve your own food, we get a mixed bag of reactions.  Some react with awe and wonder, quizzing us on what it’s like and what’s involved.  Others think it’s cool but not important.  And still others think we’re crazy.  While that may well be the case 🙂 , I’m here to share why we think it’s so very important to learn how to grow and preserve your own food.

Why You Should Know How to Grow and Preserve Your Own Food

It’s a Time-Honored Skill

Back in the days of the pioneer, you didn’t have much in the way of food unless you grew it and processed/preserved it yourself.  During the years of and following the Great Depression, stores were more readily available, but many people simply couldn’t afford to go to the grocery store and buy food.  With a 25% unemployment rate, money was sparse for nearly everyone, as you were likely either unemployed, or not making as much as you used to due to the decrease in consumerism.  People ate largely with the help of backyard vegetable gardens and backyard chickens.

It’s a Valuable Skill

There are many things we in this country/world can do without, but food is not one of them.  In this day and age of the availability of every modern convenience, people don’t think much about needing a skill such as growing and preserving food, but if you needed to, you’d be glad you knew how.

The Future is Not Certain

Any number of events, from weather catastrophes, to terrorist attacks, to civil disobedience, to wars to widespread poverty as we witnessed during the Great Depression could change things for our Western Civilization.    It seems unrealistic to most of us, who have never wanted for much, but people such as myself and Shannon from Financially Blonde got our own little taste of simply minor catastrophes and the impact they had on our homes and on our ability to provide for ourselves.  Hurricane Sandy and Katrina victims panicked, and understandably, as simple things like clean water were unavailable to thousands.

Knowing the art of growing and preserving your own food, along with practicing that art and having a supply of preserved food on hand, will keep your skills in shape and make food access, should it ever not be available at grocery stores, a possibility instead of an impossibility.

Call me an alarmist, but having had one too many close calls with unavailable necessary resources, I’ll take my chances, and fare on the side of being prepared.

 

 

67 comments

  1. I think it’s great that you are able to do this. Kudos to you, Laurie. I know I cannot because I don’t have the patience or time. I’m sure you appreciate everything you eat more when it comes from your own hard earned work.

  2. Alicia says:

    I remember when my previous supervisor learned I could make a kick-ass jam. Her first words were “well, looks like you make the cut for our zombie apocalypse team” 😉

    My family is made up of country-folk. I am the first generation to grow up in the city, but because of where my parents were from I still have a lot of the skills that come from being more resourceful. I was just home this weekend and I ended up with loads of veggies from the garden that were left over after their preserving. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and beets mostly.

    I just wish there were other ways to preserve that didn’t take so much salt and/or sugar.

  3. Chris says:

    Great article Laurie. I don’t know as much as I would like to about preserving food but I know people who do. You never know what the future is going to bring good or bad. I always said if something bad were to ever happen the first place I would go back to is my families farm because they have everything right there to survive from a garden, to cattle, and swine.

    This also brings up another point that so many people have gotten away from making their own food that they don’t know how to do it anymore. Sure you can go to the grocery store to buy food but what happens when they are gone? Then what?

    It’s hard to think things could come to this but being prepared is your best option you have to ensure your survival.

    • Laurie says:

      Glad to hear your family has a farm, Chris, and good to hear from you! The fact than so many have no idea how to grow/preserve food scares me. I mean really: what WOULD happen if the store shelves were empty for any period of time?

  4. Great points, Laurie. Mr. FW and I definitely look forward to the day when growing and preserving is possible for us. We really dislike the fact that we have no space to do so in the city–in fact, our house is literally surrounded by concrete! Not the way we want to live for the rest of our lives!

  5. Mackenzie says:

    I think it’s awesome that you do this Laurie. You never know what can happen and it’s better to be prepared. Besides, homegrown stuff always tastes better 🙂

  6. Pauline says:

    It is a great edge against inflation or seasonal price bumps. If you can tomato sauce while it is dirt cheap in summer you don’t have to buy expensive tomatoes in winter.

  7. I completely agree with you! Being a young family, we’re just getting to learn the ropes, but this year we’re really going to give it a push up. Until now, we only had a several jars of pickles that we made, but now we’re learning a bit more and, even though it’s not as good as canning, we’re creating a nice supply of vegetables for future use by freezing them. The main reason is to save money – as all these products cost 3 to 4 times less than what they would cost us in the summer.

    We’re also going to fill at least a dozen jars following some traditional recipes and even though it’s not something that we grow, but buy from farmer markets, it’s still a lot healthier and better tasting (and cheaper) than what we’d buy from the store. So slowly but surely, we’re getting there.

    • Laurie says:

      We started with pickles too, and are finally moving on to other things. It’s scary at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s awesome!

  8. Nicola says:

    I’d love to be able to grow my own food but I have no idea where to start. I also don’t have the patience yet, I don’t think! I hope one day I will 🙂

  9. Kipp says:

    Very good thoughts Laurie. Honestly it is a skill I desire to learn more on, just not sure if I have the time to tend to a garden and then enough time to preserve everything in the short harvest time frame.

    One thing I may do in the near future is actually to make my own maple syrup. My dad brought this up and is happy that I have about 5 maple trees on my property (one of them being a gigantic one that is split 4 ways at the base). So I am kind of excited to do this together with him if he chooses. He just did his own beehives this year and will have a little honey. You don’t get much your first year from that.

    My parents are fairly frugal in alot of ways with basically one exception. They have maintained a cottage basically my entire life, but that has been our “vacation” all my life as well… and that is much cheaper then dragging the whole family around the country.

    • Laurie says:

      Kipp, you should indeed make your own syrup! It’s time consuming (I have a homeschooling friend that did it for years) but the quality and bartering value is HUGE! And kudos to your family for starting up with the honeybees!! LOVE that they have a cottage: we want to get one for us and our kids to use one day too. 🙂

  10. Even Steven says:

    I think canning and preserving items has gets lost a little from generation to generation. I’m sticking with my parents dilly beans and I’m sure I will grow into a frugal farmer one day.

  11. These are great points Laurie!! I would much rather have my own food on supply when a disaster strikes that eat processed and canned meals for days. We had some great successes with our garden this year and plan to get even more serious about it next year. I love that you are sharing everything you guys do and teaching us along the way.

  12. Kay says:

    I definitely agree that it’s important to be prepared and preserving your own food is one way to do that. This way, you know how the food was prepared and how it was grown. We keep a well stocked pantry that includes our own produce. Several years ago our area was hit with Hurricane Sandy. We were lucky to only be without power for 4 days but others close by didn’t have it so good!

    • Laurie says:

      Hi Kay! Yeah, I’ve heard it was horrible. So glad you guys didn’t get it too bad, and that if you had, at least you’d have not had to worry about food to eat, huh?

  13. Amy says:

    Laurie, this makes perfect sense to me. We grow a small amount of our food, but haven’t started canning/processing it (yet?).

  14. Simon says:

    You raise some poignant points…not even nearly alarmist. Growing food and preserving it is a skill and tradition we have been slowly losing…along with many others, yet it contributes significantly to our well being and…helps keep the expenses down.

    I grew up on a farm…I understand and appreciate self-reliance 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Simon, good to hear you grew up on a farm! I always admire adults who spent their childhoods doing farm work – it’s tough stuff! But all worth it, I’m sure.

  15. Brit says:

    I have to say that I have enjoy growing my food this year. I made my own sauce and loved it. I am looking forward to canning/preserving in the future.

  16. The biggest reason for me here is to learn another skill. I really love knowing how to do things, and this includes learning additional skills. I haven’t canned before, but it’s definitely something I would like to learn how to do.

  17. Kim says:

    I’d be doomed if we had a disaster. I really should pay more attention to gardening. If I could only find a way to enjoy it more….

  18. Kalen Bruce says:

    My wife and I believe in this thoroughly. We have a stockpile of food that doesn’t expire. My wife has been experimenting with pressure canning a lot lately too, so we have all kinds of canned things around the house. 🙂

  19. Iforonwy says:

    The apples will soon be ready. Every year a lady e-mails me and asks are there any windfalls yet? I’m sure she is at home willing them to fall from the tree! Well she will be coming over at the weekend for the first lot and I have offered her rhubarb too as that has been growing like weeds for months!

    We have some very young trees that we planted over the last few years. The plumb tree was just refusing to produce anything so we stood along side it in the spring and said, right this is your last chance plumbs this year or you’re out to give you space to another apple tree – our reward this year 8 plums!

    The store cupboard has our usual strange assortment. Last week we traded mango chutney (I used tinned mango) for apple and elderberry jelly that our neighbour made from our windfall apples and elderberries. Some of the elderflowers had been used to make cordial.

    One thing I would like to do is dried fruits. Hope to build a solar drier ready for next year as it gets ultra hot in our conservatory.

    • Laurie says:

      You two never cease to amaze me with your resourcefulness!!! A solar drier: how cool is that??? I would love to come and see your place one day – it sounds absolutely amazing what you are doing over there.

  20. It feels like a lost art form, at least to me because there are so many grocery options around here and we just assume our access to them is unlimited, but my grandparents were great about it. They really prided themselves on their garden and everything being homemade. I wish some of that knowledge was passed down to me.

    • Laurie says:

      That is amazing, Tonya! Yes, my grandparents never talked about it, but I have fumbled and fought and managed to learn at least some things on my own. It’s tough, though!

  21. jim says:

    Laurie,
    I love your blog and couldn’t agree with you more. We’ve been gardening for decades, but now that our last dog has died we’ve got ALL kinds of problems with rabbits and squirrels. Pinwheels actually did do a great job for the first few months, but now the rabbits and squirrels have figured out that they really are not a threat – those little@@@ are eating our entire garden. I can do the canning/preserving – but how do I keep the critters from eating our plants before we can harvest them?

  22. jefferson says:

    We used to have a garden back at our old place and it was so great to have fresh veggies from the back yard. Something about knowing that you played at part in their production always made them taste just a little bit sweeter.

    At my current house, we have a major deer issue. Actually, I don’t think it’s an issue, and I love having them around.. But they do eat anything that we try to plant. Perhaps we just need to put a large fence around the garden area.

  23. We grew a garden for the first time this year. We did okay, but I definitely think we can do better next year. It has been really exciting to pick something out of the garden and use it in my recipe for dinner =)

  24. It never hurts to be prepared Laurie!

    As an urbanite, I don’t know a thing about growing, canning or preserving my own food, but my sister – who lives in a rural area – does this regularly. She has a large garden and could probably sustain her and her husband quite nicely if they needed to.

    While I like the idea of sustainability and independence of taking care of your own food, I’m afraid I’d be too lazy to do anything of the sort. Mind you, if I had no choice, then I’d be a fast learner ’cause I like to eat 🙂

    Thanks Laurie and take care. I hope all is well with everyone.

    Lyle

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, you are so funny, Lyle. 🙂 I have to say that our love of food was definitely a catalyst for us learning to grow and preserve our own food. 🙂 We are major league foodies.

  25. Michelle says:

    I love having a garden and fresh food and herbs during the summer! That’s awesome that you do all of this. I remember when my parents used to do all kinds of pickling and canning, you think after watching them for so long I’d be doing it myself. We have oodles of Kale in the garden right now and I’m trying to figure out ways to blanch and freeze aside from making kale chips and assorted dishes.
    I agree that you need to plan for weird weather events, etc…having gone through an ice storm last winter where the power and heat was off for 3 days was not fun. Thankfully I saved most of the food in the freezer with all the coolers and ice we had…LOL!
    Great post, definitely an important skill to have.

    • Laurie says:

      Oh my gosh, Michelle – that must have been scary!! These are the types of events that keep us on our toes regarding learning about canning and preserving food.

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  27. I just planted a couple apple trees this year, hopefully it won’t be too long til we start to get some good apples from them. We do a small vegetable garden every year, but I want to expand it. Even if there isn’t a major catastrophe at some point, home grown food just tastes better! I love sending the kids out to pick fresh tomatoes as I make dinner.

  28. Richard says:

    I’ve been doing loads of experimenting this year with food preservation; mainly making jellies and using the freezer. Next year I’ll be trying canning but for now we have an entire freezer of frozen fruit and veg that should see us well into the new year I think 🙂

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