Food preserving and sufficiency
While it is not possible nor neccessarily desireable to be fully self sufficient in food, getting close is desireable. I make smaller goals as I work my way into more sufficiency. And, I like that word as it also relates to, what is sufficient ? SO, I do not need to just eat what I like or like best, I can think of, what is sufficient ? Can I practice that ?
Let's take produce. I might like asperigus or snow peas and peppers, but if I were to think I should be able to eat these fresh, weekly then I am kind of being a glutton and asking the rest of the world to supply this craving, so another climate zone in another part of the world would then be on the hook to use their resources for an export market to me rather than on what their own people or natural environment need. Of course, that supply line is also fragile and will go away in a powered down world.
So, to be healthy we should eat fruits and vegetables but which ones and how are decisions we can and need to make and most of us need to change how we think about it. For me, I think of both sides, one being, how can I get some of what I like to eat in a low energy way ? So, on site, or local, etc.... Then, what kind of amounts and nutrients do I need to be healthy ? And, what grows in my region ( county, state, country) because I likely need to learn how to eat what is available too.
This isnt something that is always easy to change all at once, you can, but also making what steps you are able to is good. DOnt let the perfect be an obstacle to doing better now.
I am thinking about this as it is fruit harvesting season right now. SO, it can help me to keep going and see that it all will add up. Drying grapes: Well, one jar of raisons is 64 Tablespoons of home dried raisons if it is full, just round it off, that is a serving of raisons in my oatmeal once a week for every jar of raisons I manage to put by.
Pie filling. Well, maybe I will get enough for one pie a month, likely not all blackberry ! ( darn...) the rest can be apple.
Can I put by some of the rest of the fruit that is here ? Enough for one jar of applesauce a month ? One or two of sliced peaches ( which is what I am about to do when done with my tea) , one of sliced pears. Now I am up to one can of fruit a week for a treat. ANd, the varieties are what I can get locally. A few years ago, I had no peaches but canned loquats, takes more time to can loquats, so I used half pint jars instead of pints. This year pears are breaking the trees. I have never canned pears, but this is what we have.
I adore apricots. Realy do. They do not grow well around here, but berries realy do. Plums it depends. This year, we have plums. I killed my strawberry patch. So, no strawberry jam. I just made raspberry ( I froze about 2 months ago) red plum jam, green gage plum jam, and hope to make blackberry and yellow plum jam ( yellow plum as there are sadly no apricots) My goal, since the goals help me, is to have 1 jar a month of jam and enough to give away for christmas gifts.
I always dry persimmon, so in a few months I will dry persimmon slices. I will also freeze some of the persimmon pulp to use in muffins.
Now, my fruit needs are looking more well rounded. There are of course fresh fruits at various times ( berries including mulberries, a bit of citrus, apples, pears, plums, grapes) to to go with the preserved, but the orange tree has very little fruit( they are green and on the tree now and ripen in January or February) , which is why I need to can pears. It will not be a good year for oranges here, even though the last 2 were.
I think like this for all that I plant, and then I also look for some local produce to supplement, I did buy the flat of organic peaches. It will cheer me up later this year. But, I am trying to see how many of my needs I can meet without too much effort. I never need to buy fruit or fruit products ( like jam or pie filling). I do not buy fresh out of season, canned or frozen fruit. I will buy fresh, local to eat or process, but I dont need to so generally dont. But, if you have a small yard, go buy local, fresh in season and eat it and process - can, dry or freeze for the off season. Likely you can buy non-imported storage apples, pears, citrus off season. We all need to get out of the habit of buying imported fruit. We shouldnt have grapes in the winter !
It turns out that generally I can grow all the garlic I need, all the tomatoes, all the winter squash ( which has had a learning curve as I never realy liked winter squash. I am getting better, It grows realy easily here so I need to learn to eat what grows local) to have one buttnut squash a week. Dried and green onions. And greens, summer or winter for vitamins. Often I can grow brocolli. I realy like the brocolli that keeps making side shoots, and if I have too much I will blanch and freeze a bit. I dry greens to use for when nothing is in the garden. Leaves like magenta spreen lambsquarters, chard, kale and spinach all dry super easily and quick and rehydrate well to cook with. SO then I might look at my list and say, ok, every week ( off season) I have 2 onions, a head of garlic, dried green onion tops, greens (like kale, fresh or dried), a winter squash, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, etc..... likely more or some fresh but it makes me feel better to see that I am meeting some of my needs, and then on the other hand, I must plan my menu based on what easily grows here, so I need to incorporate those vegetables into my diet. While I do have some other green vegetables, since I can supply my green vegetables, I make myself use what is easily harvested here, and I eat green most days with every soup or meal.
Even if you do not have much room, it can be good to practice local eating. Buy from the local farms or farmers market in season and preserve some if you need to and you can shorten the critical food supply line. Winter squash and canned local tomatoes under the bed......