No. This isn’t an economic collapse type of post. Although, empty grocery store shelves could very well be in the near future for many of us.
Actually, this rant is about my growing disgust with the food industry and the poisons they insist on continuously lacing their products with, unbeknownst to us.
By now we all realize that processed foods are full of junk no living thing ought to consume. We know that High Fructose Corn Syrup, Aspartame, Artificial Dyes and Preservatives are wreaking all sorts of havoc on our bodies. And so, we’ve begun seeking a more whole foods diet, incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into our daily meals. (You have started doing this, haven’t you?)
This is the case in our home, anyways. For a while now we’ve been avoiding those middle aisles at the grocery store, and sticking to the perimeter areas which typically offer produce, dairy, bread, meat… you know, stuff you shouldn’t have to worry about too much.
Unfortunately though, even if you can look at a product and know exactly what it is (as opposed to processed foods), you still don’t know what is in that food.
This is increasingly frustrating to me!
Yeah, we knew that unless we bought organic, we’d have to worry about pesticides on our produce. And we knew that growth hormones and antibiotics are often present in meat and dairy products.
But arsenic in chicken? And water. And fish. And beef (and probably milk) evidently, since they are feeding chicken waste to cows! (What the heck?!)
(All the more reason to buy locally, from a farmer you can trust!)
And did you hear about the exploding watermelons in China? Isn’t it comforting to know that forchlorfenuron, the growth accelerator used on these watermelons, is also being sprayed on our produce here in the US? Bet you didn’t read that on an ingredients list stuck to your container of “fresh” grapes.
Why aren’t they required to tell us about this stuff?? Why aren’t the chemicals that are used on and are present in the produce we buy not listed as an ingredient? They are an ingredient, after all. I sure as heck would like to know if I’m about to ingest forchlorfenuron. Or worse, feed it to my child!
Do we really believe the government agencies we pay for with our tax dollars have done extensive research regarding the short and long term health effects of us consuming these chemicals before they allowed them to be used?
And don’t even get me started on GMO’s. Oh, and how food producers are allowed to “zap” certain products with radiation to kill bacteria. Yummy.
What else are we gonna find out is in our food years after we’ve been consuming it?
Anyways… I could go on forever on this topic. What I really want to ponder with you though is what we could do about this… particularly, if it would be possible for us to live without purchasing any food from a grocery store. Could this be done nowadays?
I think it’s mostly possible. You know, with the exception of stuff like coffee, sugar and spices, things that even the pioneers had shipped in. Although, even these could be considered nothing more than a luxury.
However, I do realize that unless you have some amount of land it would be impossible to grow enough food to sustain yourself and your family. You would at least have to have resources for locally produced foods for a grocery store boycott to be feasible.
I wish I could say that we don’t use the grocery store very often, but in reality we are still shopping weekly just like almost everybody else. We simply aren’t there yet.
So I’ve been going down a mental checklist, trying to figure out what we could produce ourselves, what we could buy from local farmers, and what we could do without. Here’s how my brainstorming has gone so far…
Well, I shared recently that we just bought a quarter of a cow from a local farmer. So although we do not have the room to raise our own beef, it’s nice to know somebody who does.
We could raise chickens for meat, enough to keep our family fed for the year. This is definitely a goal of ours. We eat a lot of chicken, and I hate buying it from the grocery store, especially not knowing what could be in it! I’d also like to raise turkeys eventually.
And even though we aren’t big fish eaters, we do have the pond to fish in, if we needed to. Not to mention deer and wild turkey to hunt.
See, this seems like an easy one… just raise a garden, right?
That sounds fine and dandy in theory, but realistically, could you learn to be satisfied eating only what is in season? For us this would mean going the entire winter, and most of Fall and Spring without fresh fruit.
You’d also be limited to eating only what grows in your region. Meaning, that if I were to refrain from shopping at the grocery store I would not be able to eat oranges or bananas anymore (not to mention a whole host of other stuff) since they don’t grow in this climate.
I don’t know about you, but this would be the greatest challenge for me. We are so accustomed to being able to simply pick up whatever fruit we are craving at the moment, it would be hard to force yourself to learn to do without. How would you combat food boredom?
Oils & Fats
I use a lot of oil, shortening, and butter when baking. How would I make my own or do without them?
We don’t have a cream separator for our goat’s milk, so I’d only be able to make butter if we bought raw cow’s milk from a local source. But even then I’d have to buy a lot of milk to make enough butter for our needs. Could I learn to bake without it?
I could also see if we could get the fat from cows taken to butcher, and render the lard from that for baking purposes.
I’d be without olive and vegetable oil though (or any other kind of oil), so I wouldn’t be able to make mayonnaise or salad dressings anymore. I think.
Cheese & Other Dairy
If I order some starter cultures I could make most of our dairy needs. I wonder how the pioneers made cheese without the internet to purchase starter stuff? Something to research.
Pasta & Grains
Homemade noodles wouldn’t be too hard to learn to make, just a bit time consuming.
We already buy our grains from the local mill or bulk foods store for grinding our own flour. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough land to grow the amount of wheat we would need to keep us through the year. Perhaps we could find a local farmer to buy directly from?
I also bake almost all of our breads from scratch. Every now and then Jerry will buy a loaf of bread if he knows I won’t have time to make one, but I do try to keep us supplied.
I know I couldn’t live without sugar, but I could do with less of it. I’d love to learn to bake more using locally produced molasses and honey as a substitute. I do know of several farmers we could buy a year’s supply from, although it would be a good amount of money up front. Learning to keep bees ourselves is definitely in future plans!
I’m also growing Stevia to sweeten our tea and coffee with.
We’ve got water and milk covered, but I’d love to have a tea plant we could dry leaves from. I love green tea; I’ll have to find out if it would grow in our region. We aren’t big coffee drinkers, so that could easily be done without. I do love my orange juice first thing in the morning though, *sigh*.
I can grape juice from muscadines picked locally, and I could do the same with apple juice. It would be fun experimenting with canning different juice varieties, or learning how to freeze them as concentrates, just to break up the monotony.
Herbs, Baking Needs & Condiments
Of course, most herbs can be grown at home. But the art of collecting, drying and processing them would have to be learned. How do you make mustard powder anyways?
And what about stuff like yeast, baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar, etc? Could I learn to bake without them? Again I wonder, what did the settlers use? Did they solely use fermentation for their leavening needs?
Condiments are easily made at home. This is something we are already doing, and don’t need a grocery store for.
Canning your own foods is easy enough for anybody to learn to do. I just need to experiment with different recipes such as salsas and pasta sauce to find which are our favorites. We’re already canning veggies, fruits (including pie fillings and apple sauce), and meats. More convenience foods recipes like soups, stews, and chili are things I plan on working on as well.
I think that pretty much covers grocery store basics. So what do you think? Doable?? I’m feeling pretty encouraged myself. Sure, it’ll take lots of time and learning, but I think it’s an achievable goal. Will we ever get there? I don’t know. But I plan on trying for as long as it takes!
Do you think you could live without the grocery store?