Back in November last year I wrote this post about recording all the food that came into the house in one year. I wanted to see how self-sufficient I am. That year is now up and it’s time to look at the results.
I put all the weights as they came in on a spreadsheet and it’s been calculating totals and percentages along the way.
Food picked from the garden 139.104 kg
Fruit & vegetables purchased 176.011 kg
Groceries (non-green) purchased 417.314 kg
Total food purchased 593.325 kg
Total food in (purchased + grown) 732.429 kg
Food grown as % of total food in 19%
Food grown as % of total greengrocery items 44%
#I don’t buy greengroceries at the supermarket. I buy them at Sunday Markets or a local roadside store.
#Food picked from the garden doesn’t include leafy greens or small things I pick and nibble on the spot, like alpine strawberries or the occasional carrot.
So I grew almost half of my fruit and vegetables but this was only one-fifth of my total food. I suppose I’m doing a lot better than anyone else I know, but I’m still a long way from being totally self-sufficient in food.
As an added extra, I broke down the various foods into type and here are the totals to the nearest 0.1 kg. (Sorry about the snake-like appearance of the figures. I had all this tabbed in MS Word so that the numbers appeared in a nice regular column, but on copy/pasting, I find that WordPress doesn’t support tabs. Dumb! Why do I pre-write posts in MS Word? Because b_ WordPress has lost too many posts on me!):
Jerusalem artichokes 0.2
Tomatoes and potatoes are way out in front, with eggs a reasonable third (thanks, Girls). Citrus aren’t too bad either, with oranges on top for the group, but then I do have 4 orange trees! Zucchini are easy, but I’m pleasantly surprised at carrots, because I’ve always struggled to grow them successfully.
It wasn’t a good year for fruit. I didn’t net the trees (let them get too big), so the possums/parrots got most of it. The single blueberry plant was in its first year (in a pot) so I’ll excuse that. Wasn’t a good year for pumpkins either, or cucumbers, although I still have bottles of pickled cucumbers in the fridge, but I shouldn’t have had to buy pumpkins over the winter, as I did.
I need to pick up my game with celery and beetroot; they’re not that hard to grow after all. Peas are a dead waste of time and space, although not so much in space, as they can be stacked above other plants, but so much of the harvest gets thrown away in the pods (I can’t eat edible-podded peas). I grew sprouting broccoli instead of heading broccoli and there wasn’t much of that. I’ll go back to heading broccoli, I think, for next season. I remember having some really good heads in past years.
I didn’t want for greens—there was plenty of silver beet, kale, lettuce, endive, chicory, bok choy and what have you, but I didn’t bother weighing just a few leaves each time.
The spreadsheet drew a week-by-week graph (which I can’t reproduce here—Wordpress would have a cardiac arrest) and as I expected, harvests dropped off considerably over winter. Fortunately I had bottled, dried and frozen quite a bit of the summer harvest excess.
So that’s it. I’ll still weigh the eggs (so I can see how the Girls are performing), but I won’t continue with the exercise. I’m happy I can go back to pulling up a carrot or an orange off the tree and eating them on the spot. Taking it all inside to weigh was a bit of a pain.
What the exercise did do was reinforce my belief that if we are to survive the coming collapse of industrial civilisation and have enough food to eat, then we have to get together as local communities and work at growing it together; not only growing it, but sharing the excess in true permaculture fashion. We need animals in the system for protein* and we need people willing and able to keep animals while sourcing their other food needs from those who specialise in vegetables & fruit. (I was pleased that keeping chooks for the first time enabled me to have, at least, a minor source of protein).
But how to get the average Joe to understand what’s coming and to begin to prepare for it, I don’t know. Privately, I think we’ve had it!
Oh, well, it was an interesting exercise……
*I’m not a vegetarian and never would be by choice. I believe humans evolved to eat meat and need meat protein and other meat nutrients in their diet. Besides, I like meat.