How can The Park Wife weave food supply, the economy, and Oprah into one blog post? Oh, never underestimate me friends.
I have a love/hate relationship with Oprah. She has some ridiculous shows on and then there are the jewels like today's show that will educate people on how their food gets to their table. Lisa Ling takes a look inside some of America's farms. I believe if you watch it, your diet may change after the show. You will be horrified to know how the meat you eat is raised and how much you are paying for these practices.
Many people think that if they don't have a farm they are destined to buy overly processed, chemical infused, highly toxic foods from Walmart. Most of the food the average American eats bears about as much resemblance to its natural state as a chicken nugget does to a barnyard hen.
Did you know that each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles? If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week! That is not gallons, but barrels. Let's hear that in the next Presidential debate, now that is solution and change people!
As far as our house:
For meat, we just raised four hogs (one for our family and the other 3 for friends and family). Tonto fans, she is still here don't worry.
We customarily run about 100 meat chickens, pastured poultry a year (which we split with one other family). What that means in layman terms (for the non-chicken owners out there), we raise chickens directly on green pasture which allows the birds to receive a significant amount of pasture forage as feed. They are moved on to fresh grass twice a day in a floorless pen so they are raised in a cleaner, healthier environment. Then, after about 6 weeks, it is slaughter day. This is not my favorite day of the year, but it is worth it to have healthy, non-steroid, arsenic, and whatever else filled chickens. Yes, we do have the equipment so don't think I am sitting there plucking chickens, now that would be something to tell my high school friends.
We also have laying hens for eggs, right now we had a slaughter by a skunk and possum, leaving only 2 hens, so we will get new ones in the Spring.
I have tried real hard on my garden and can grow zucchini, squash and jalapeno peppers like crazy. I have had a hard time with tomatoes which is the one vegetable that we would like to have a surplus of. My brown thumb is turning tan, but, hey that is progress because it started out as a black thumb, not brown. The garden has also been a wonderful teaching tool for the Buckaroo's. They know the feel of soil in their hands, how to plant seeds, water and harvest. This not only teaches them that our food comes from the ground, not the grocery isle, but that it takes hard work.
You can do this for your family too! Well, maybe hogs in your backyard if you live in a neighborhood is not a good idea. But, there are things you can do!
If you don't have acreage for a garden, you can have a container garden or you can visit your local farmer's market. Not only will you score on locally produced food, most of the farmers that back their pick-up trucks to the market are more than happy to share/teach your kids about the process of how their produce started as a small seed and what went into it before it arrived their that day.
You could also participate in a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program, where, in exchange for paying a portion of a farmer's costs each season, you'll receive a portion of his harvest. This keeps your dollars local, boosting the economy of your area.
I do still have to shop at the local grocery store, but we are trying to do what we can to put healthy food on our table and not give so much of our money to the huge retailers.
This kind of life is a choice, sometimes a daily choice. It may sound like a "simple" life to many. But, I have found that living a "simple" life does not mean you are somehow inadequate or you are "poor". I feel like one of the richest women alive.
For the best local sources of grass-fed beef or organic produce, check out LocalHarvest. Another great site is Kitchen Gardeners International which helps backyard gardeners increase their food self-reliance and link up with a worldwide community of people who grow their own ingredients.
Don't settle! Get out there and put good food on your table!
The Park Wife