It’s no secret that our current food production and distribution model is a weak link in the fight against climate change. While personal transportation can oftentimes be reduced and waste cut back on, food is an essential part of our lives. As such, it accounts for around 10-30% of the average household carbon footprint.
However, not all food is created equal. When you buy food at a grocery store, you don’t know if it was produced sustainably or ethically. Pause and take a moment to think about how much fuel was used to transport each Ecuadorian banana halfway around the world to the shelves of your local supermarket.
To curb the toll of food consumption on our planet, the movement of food self-sufficiency has emerged. From changing your eating habits to spreading the word in the local community to adapting to your local climate’s growing patterns, the average person can do quite a bit to cut back on the environmental impact of food production and distribution.
Familiarize Yourself With Available Resources
Those interested in food self-sufficiency would be wise to perform some research on self-sustainability. After all, growing your own food is just one component of a self-sustainable life. Other aspects include sustainable home design, energy-efficient living, and reducing your reliance on private means of transport.
Getting familiar with self-sustainability practices will allow you to tap into a like-minded community of individuals while making use of Internet resources. The focus of sustainable practices is usually on reducing what can be reduced and eliminating what can be eliminated. These methods, including ones used in sustainable manufacturing, are easily transferable to the food industry. You can use recycled materials to build an indoor or outdoor garden, cut back on grocery store purchases, produce and share as much of your crop as possible, and get the rest from local growers and artisans.
Of course, once you begin tapping into available self-reliance resources online and in your community, you’ll want to embark on your food sustainability journey right away. Resources like carbon footprint calculators and gardening resources will be invaluable as you navigate the ups and downs of food production, learn how to start a garden, and further explore the world of food self-sufficiency.
Never Stop Learning
Most people don’t just wake up one morning and decide to lead a completely self-sufficient lifestyle. It takes time, dedication, and a healthy curiosity to make the switch to sustainability, especially when it comes to the food you eat. That’s why it’s always important to keep an open mind when it comes to food-self-sufficiency.
For instance, as noted by the University of Michigan, the average consumer might feel overwhelmed upon discovering that meat and dairy products account for around 75% of greenhouse gas emissions in the average American diet. It can be difficult to go vegan overnight because you’re likely not fully equipped with the tools to do so. Cutting back on your meat and dairy consumption is a great place to start, as is shopping for local animal products or expanding your repertoire of plant-based recipes.
Other consumers may feel dismayed to learn that drought, fire, and political strife sew local unrest in many food production areas. This pattern is especially relevant considering famine and food shortages worldwide.
Environmental issues may hit close to home for residents of the American southwest, who are rationing water as they experience some of the worst droughts in decades. Even the humble avocado doesn’t come without baggage — it’s provided ripe ground for cartel activity in Mexico, while in Chile massive water shortages abound because of water-intensive production practices.
Are we headed for a famine? Some experts think so. The U.S. lost 4,400 farms in 2020 alone, and with global food insecurity mounting, food self-sufficiency is now more important than ever before. Continually learning about food production practices can help you jumpstart your sustainable lifestyle and make adjustments as needed.
Adapting to Climate, Weather, & More
Speaking of adjustments, growing your own food will take some getting used to. You won’t have every fruit and vegetable in every season, and that’s okay. By focusing on in-season foods, you’re bound to eat fresher and healthier. The taste of fresh, locally-grown produce is another bonus.
However, no two terrains are the same. From the hills of South Dakota to the low-lying areas of central Florida, you’ll need to adapt your growing habits to local seasons and climates for best results. You’ll also want to consider other regional variations, like the breed of plant, and anticipate how to cope with potential natural disasters, including hurricanes, hailstorms, or drought.
One popular method for dealing with climate is to erect a greenhouse for food self-sufficiency. Greenhouses allow you to grow vertically, giving you room to expand your food production while sheltering your crop from the worst of the elements and keeping out pests.
Self-sufficient gardens can also contain hardy perennials, like asparagus, rhubarb, and mint, which provide you with food that’s available year-round and can endure nearly any weather condition. Freezing batches of harvested food will also help you and your family develop food resilience.
Ready to Take the Plunge?
No matter your current habits or lifestyle, there’s always room for your diet to become more food self-sufficient. What does that look like for you in practice? Whether you’re reducing your meat and dairy consumption or making the big leap to maintaining a full-on vegetable garden, food self-sufficiency can help save the planet while filling your stomach with delicious, nutritious, garden-fresh nourishment.