Why Self Reliance?
There are 4 core reasons to be self reliant. These aren’t the only reasons, of course. But we, when we decide to be more self reliant one of these core reasons, are usually behind our choice, and rightly so, I would argue. So let’s explore these reasons (and or beliefs) to make sure we’re all starting on the same page.
If self reliance is already a way of life for you this discussion might serve as a reminder or even help you get some clarity on why you do what you do. After all, we should always be questioning our reasons for our actions so that we can make sure we’re not doing things only out of habit or only because other people think it’s a good idea.
- Save Money-It’s a well-known fact that when you do things yourself you save money. After all, if you buy something from someone they’re running a business. The goal of business is to make a profit. So someone is profiting from your purchase. I know there are exceptions which sometimes involve cheap labor in other countries and/or a business has gotten so efficient in making something (usually because they can get raw materials at a deep discount) that it’s actually cheaper for you to buy it. However, even in today’s world, this is not always the case.
Bread, for example, can be made from about 50 cents worth of ingredients and a healthy loaf of bread from the store costs over $4.00.
- Eat Healthier-You can eat healthier when you make your own food simply because you know what’s in your food and what’s NOT in your food. Of course, you leave out the chemicals and preservatives that commercially packaged food pours into their recipes and products.
You can also add in or subtract out nutrients where you need them. Maybe you’d like to add gelatin to your soup or control the amount of sugar that’s in your food.
Then, of course, all of these things are especially important if you have allergies.
- Live Greener–It’s no secret that our planet is under stress because of the things humans are doing. Whether you believe in climate change or not, it’s clear that many people don’t care about preserving the beauty and natural habitats of our planet. When you’re self reliant and living a sustainable lifestyle you don’t put stress on the environment. You live according to the seasons and take advantage of locally grown produce and resources.
- Be Prepared–If you know how to take care of yourself and provide the things your family needs without relying on the government or big corporations, then you can handle anything life throws at you, whether it’s a personal crisis or a national one.
Let me clarify that when I say self-reliant I don’t mean by yourself on your own. I mean forming a local community and not relying on the government or big corporations to make your decisions for you–Not that I’m anti-government or anti-corporation but there should be a balance.
Where To Start?
The truth is you can start anywhere. Anything you can do to live a more sustainable life will help. However, I believe in setting everyone up for success. So if you start with these core skills you’ll have get the most confidence and satisfaction for the least amount of effort, and I would argue that these are the most important 3 things to becoming more self reliant. After all, everyone has to eat and it’s really the most important need that we have to work to fulfill.
- Growing Your Own Food–gardening organically.
- Cook From Scratch–with sustainability in mind.
- Preserve Your Own Food–having a winter food storage.
Then once you have your food skills taken care of you can move on to providing your family with:
- Building houses and other structures that your family needs.
- Providing natural medicines.
- Providing other necessities like clothes, off-grid powder supplies among other things.
Where Should You Start?
Start with the food! Choose either growing, cooking or preserving–whatever makes sense for your family.
How We Started–
We started out focusing on preparedness and saving money with growing our own food. We started our yearly garden because we had just converted to vegetarianism and we were having trouble affording organic produce.
Then also my husband and I saw a lot of problems in the world and thought it would be a good idea to be prepared for anything.
And if you go through our blog in chronological order you see that trend in the early days….
Then we realized the health and green living aspects of growing, cooking and preserving your own food
My two younger children had severe asthma, so severe they had to have a daily inhaler. I was actually told by a doctor that my younger son could stop breathing in the middle of the night. So this wasn’t a mild case.
After we moved to a whole foods diet my two younger sons no longer need the inhalers.
Tips On How To Start
- Grow–start by growing just one thing. Here are 3 super easy things to grow:
Tomatoes–Well, maybe not the easiest but certainly the most popular. So I’m listing it here. You can easily find entire books about this one plant to grow and chances are you already know someone who grows their own tomatoes. Yes, they’re that popular.
Herbs–Grow your favorite herb. Many grow like weeds (some are even considered weeds). So even if you consider yourself someone who does not have a green thumb, I bet you can grow your favorite herb.
Your favorite vegetable or fruit–There is no motivation for growing something stronger than getting to eat a favorite fruit or vegetable in the end. Start by growing one thing that you love.
Bread–I could not resist putting bread here because you save sooooo much money! Homemade bread tastes so much better than anything you can buy in a store. It’s really easier than you think! Bread machine bread counts! So if you’re apprehensive start out with a bread machine, it’s still homemade.
Beverages–Sugary drinks are a huge vice for a lot of people. If you make your own you can control the ingredients and it’s a huge deterrent from buying the crappy stuff from the grocery store.
Favorite packaged or restaurant meal–Just like growing your favorite plants might motivate you to garden. Making your favorite meal from a restaurant might motivate you to cook. You can make it with even better ingredients than any restaurant.
Decide what’s important you–
Canning–If convenience is important to you then start with canning. There is nothing like opening up a jar of your homemade food on days you just can’t cook.
Dehydrating–If you live in a small home or are interested in hiking and camping then dehydrating is where you should start. Dehydrating makes your food light and easy to store
Fermenting–If processed food has made you sick and you need to concentrate on your health then start with fermenting. Fermented foods are easier to digest and contain helpful organisms that your body needs.
When Should You Move Beyond Grow, Cook, and Preserve?
So let’s say you have growing, cooking and preserving down, how do you start the more advanced self reliance skills? Those skills I just mentioned: building structures your family needs, practicing natural medicine and then making other necessities.
- I want to point out that these skills are not advanced skills in an of themselves, but I mean completely relying on yourself for these things. In other words, your skills in these areas are so good that you might be considered an artisan or a craftsman.
- Don’t wait until you have the other skills down completely because you’ll never have gardening, cooking and preserving down perfectly. If you’re interested in sewing or woodworking take it up, now.
- Try to find a community with people who like to do and practice these skills.
Set some goals to finish certain projects by certain dates. If you have a due date you’re more likely to get that project done!
It Doesn’t Have To Be All Or Nothing
A lot of people think that once they have learned a self reliant skill that they must do it the rest of their lives. This is simply not true, everyone has different seasons in life. However, once you’ve learned a skill you know it forever (or can easily review it).
Maybe you have 3 kids under 5 and it’s not the best time to take up gardening. Maybe it’s a good time for you to make some food from scratch or a great time to sew some clothes. Embrace whatever season of life you’re in and work with it.
You don’t have to do every self reliance skill at the same time to be self reliant.
Creating a self reliant sustainable lifestyle:
- Can give you a great sense of accomplishment.
- Is not that hard to obtain. Anyone can be self reliant–it’s not rocket science.
- You’ll have a better chance of success if you take advantage of communities and free resources like Seed To Pantry School.
- Remembering that being self reliant is about taking care of yourself so you can help others when they need you.