Here I talk a little about broad strokes towards personal food security. What elements make up our food self sufficiency, and what you can do now, to make steps towards your own food security in the future.
Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/self-sufficient-hub/message
As we've seen in these recent days and weeks with the COVID-19 pandemic that's swept the
globe, so many people all of a sudden don't have food security and feel insecure. They have
food insecurity, and that's what's led to the runs on the supermarkets and people stockpiling.
Well, I'm very fortunate we haven't had to do that. We produce almost all of our food here at our
home and we certainly can produce all our food. We can choose to live off what we produce
rather than buying some things from the supermarket which we obviously usually used to do. I
wanted to talk about how you can look towards becoming more self-sufficient and developing
your own food security.
I look at food security very simply broken down into three different categories. Firstly is plants I
can grow. But also foraging. The second one is meat – i.e. meat that I can raise. And the third
one is dairy and eggs. So I'm going to very quickly just talk about each of those three categories
and then over the coming days and weeks, we will obviously go into them in much more detail
and lots of other things.
One thing, if you're panicking right now and you're not sure what the future looks like and you're
nervous and you're worried you've missed the boat, you haven't. It's spring. It's the perfect time
to be putting your plants in. Now, obviously, I'm in the UK and we're still not quite out of the risk
of frost yet, so there's still some seeds I can't plant. You haven't missed the boat. You've got
plenty of time. Get on and get yourself a vegetable bed. You won't regret it. And I can assure
you that any mistakes you make, you'll learn more from those mistakes than you will by not
trying. So just get out and give it a go. It's definitely worth it.
The first really simple step everyone can do is plant some vegetables. Now, what I did when I
first grew a vegetable bed is I sat down and made a list of all the vegetables I could think of and
I basically went for things that my family eats a lot of but also things that are super easy to grow.
Beetroot is a good example. We didn't really eat beetroot in our family, but it's super easy to
grow, so we grew some and now it's a firm favorite. All my kids love it. We love it in salads. We
love it cooked. So do try a few new things, but just do your own research and find the things that
are easy to grow in your area and find the things that your family love and get them growing.
Potatoes are one of the staples for us. We eat quite a lot of potatoes and in the coming weeks
and months, we might be substituting a lot of our cereal and pasta and that kind of thing for
potatoes because it's the one thing we can grow here. We can't grow our own cereal or, at least,
we're not geared up to do that just yet, so I strongly suggest that you include potatoes in your
list. They're super easy to grow. And hang around for the end of this post for a really top tip on
Beans are really easy, beetroots are really easy. If you've got a greenhouse or a polytunnel
tomatoes are really easy. You can also grow tomatoes on a windowsill inside. Get yourself
some seeds and it's not too late. I promise you won't regret it. Please get them in.
Second thing, having spoken about plants briefly, I also do quite a bit of foraging. I forage for
mushrooms, I forage for all sorts of salad greens and then, when the season’s right a bit later,
it'll be fruit, berries, and nuts. Please check out the upcoming podcasts around that time of year
because we'll be covering all of those things in much more detail. I've also got lots of videos on
YouTube covering a lot of my mushroom foraging.
Apart from plants, the next thing on my list was to raise meat now. There are three animals I
raise here. Two of them are not really for meat, but meat is a byproduct. And one of them is
specifically for meat. I'm going to go through them briefly here.
Pigs are one animal I raise solely for meat. Until very recently, what we did is we buy two or
three piglets a year and we raise them here on our property. Then we slaughter butcher them
and then they go in the freezer. And two to three pigs a year is about right for our needs.
However, what we're going to do in the future, and I've been speaking to my wife about this just
yesterday and we've made this decision in the last 24 hours, we're not going to be bringing in
piglets anymore. We're going to keep one of our gilts, the female pigs, and we're going to breed
her. We're going to keep a male and a female and we're going to breed our own pigs. It is
slightly more work. It means we're going to have to keep two pigs over winter, which we don't
normally do. But I think for food security, it makes so much more sense than buying in piglets
I recommend pigs. Two reasons I recommend pigs: one is there are lots of ways that you can
make up their food costs from next to nothing. You don't need to buy a lot of pig food. You can
make it up from lots of other ways. I'll go into that in a lot more detail on another episode. And
the other reason is they're very respectful of one strand electric fence so they're really easy to
contain. Pigs are super smart and once they know where the fence is, that's it. They won’t go
The next animal is goats. Now goats we keep predominantly for dairy, but a byproduct of the
dairy is obviously meat. Every year our milking goats are bred and the kids will either go on to
replace an animal in the milking herd or they will go to meat. And then the third animal is
chickens. Now again, we breed chickens for eggs, but the byproduct of breeding for eggs is you
get a fair amount of cock birds, which again we raise up and that is meat for the freezer. A small
way I supplement this is by taking wild pheasants and also, fish. We have crayfish in the river,
so I trap crayfish. There are a few other ways that we gain meat for our freezer. But across the
board, we're very much self-sufficient on meat.
The final category was dairy and eggs. Now, dairy and eggs are covered by what I believe are
the first two animals you should get if you're considering going down the animal route to self-
The first one is chickens. Chicken should be everyone's first animal. They're so easy to look
after. Three hens in the back garden are going to produce maybe ten to fifteen eggs a week
unless they're a real egg-laying breed and then you might get as many as 20 eggs a week. So
that's eggs for a family taken care of. They’re great pets. They're great for kids. They're really
easy to breed. They're fun to have around. And of course, if you're going to breed them then
you've got the byproduct of the meat as well.
The second animal that I recommend for anyone looking at going into self-sufficiency is goats,
and that's because milking goats produce tons of milk. If you have two milking goats, you're
going to be producing far more milk than a family needs, if they are a decent milking variety.
And that enables you to produce cheese, butter, cream, ice cream, all those things. So we're
completely egg and dairy self-sufficient.
So those are my first thoughts on becoming self-sufficient in regard to food security. Get
yourself a vegetable garden. You really must do that. If you've only got a tiny outdoor space, get
a little run, get some hens in it. They don't need much space. And that puts you significantly
further ahead than 95% of the population. So it's not too late. Everyone should take stock, think
about where they are, and what they can do to look after their families and feel more secure
about where their food is coming from, not just today or tomorrow, but into the future.