Posted by Dave on April 13, 2010
Besides being financially independent, could you grow all of your own food too?
I think I could – I grew up on a farm and spent most of my life (it seemed anyways as a teenager) doing chores, baling hay, and generally being kept busy. Otherwise who knows what kind of fun I could have gotten up to living 15 km away from anyone I knew. I read a book last year titled “Self Sufficient Life and How to Live it” by John Seymour. In the book, he not only provides the benefits of being self-sufficient food-wise, but also provides a scalable operation that shows how to set up your farm from 1-50 acres.
With our household becoming more interested in food and where it comes from it would seem like a good fit to grow our own – not only would I know exactly where my food came from, but I could control each and every aspect of inputs to it’s growth, or (in the case of animals) what kind of feed and care they receive.
Maybe I’m a little paranoid from reading too many post-apocalyptic stories in the last few months (for example: The Last Man; The Book of Ember; I Am Legend), but there are very few people (relative to say 100 years ago) that are able to grow their own food. I’m wondering what will happen to food prices with ever-increasing energy prices on the horizon. How much would food prices go up if fuel costs increase to $200 per barrel?
I can see some potential problems with homesteading:
- Can’t really leave the farm: This is one of the reasons why I don’t have a dog – we’re never home. If you have cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens it’s difficult to schedule a week’s vacation in the sun when your animals need fed somewhere in Southern Ontario. A farm would really be a drag on vacations and essentially tethers you at home.
- Poor growing years: If you experience poor yields, you still have to eat, meaning you may have put a significant amount of time (and possibly money) into a crop and end up with nothing to show for it – might as well have lived in the city.
- Opportunity Cost: The trade-off between such things as buying land and spending time growing food may work out less than just living in the city and buying food.
In the end, there are some significant draw-backs to doing it all yourself, but at some point I may freak myself out enough worrying about how I’ll eat in 20 years to take the plunge. I think I have been away from the farm long enough to romanticize how rewarding working for your food is, but there is a certain level of satisfaction at the end of a day of building pasture fences knowing that you have just done something that is going to help feed you in the future.
Have you ever thought of homesteading? Could you do it, if necessary? Would it be worth the extra work?