Selective Buying — Eating Our Surplus

We’ve been growing some of our own food for years, and like many others in this situation, we often end up with some items that we don’t eat — an extra butternut squash, a jar of pickles, mint jelly from the year I made dozens of pints, for example. This year we’re easing into what we hope will become an annual practice: once fall hits, we only eat what we’ve grown with a short list of exceptions. This will force us to eat down our stores of food and will give us a way to quantify how much of our own food we’re producing. Maybe this year we’ll only make it to the beginning of December, but next year we’ll shoot for January. This year, though, we’re trying out a pilot version of this program since we didn’t have a full growing season in our new location and our gardens were only at a quarter production.

Our Current Stores

Going into the fall, we have dozens of pie pumpkins and butternut squash. We’ve got pounds and pounds of potatoes (we won’t know how much until we dig the rest up). We’ve put up a dozen or more quarts of canned pickles as well as some pears. We’ve dehydrated dozens more quarts of pears, apples, and other fruit. The freezer and shelves still have some venison from last year and we hope that it will soon be replenished. We’ll store a few heads of kohl rabi and a few hardy greens will grow for a while longer (cabbage, kale, etc.) before I make kim chi. We’ll pull a few more carrots, too. Again, this was a partial year’s growth since we had to finish the roof instead of concentrating on growing food. About ten gallons of cider and mead are fermenting as well. Additionally, we have plenty of eggs and honey.

Our Approved Purchase List

We can’t produce everything on site, but we’re concentrating our purchases on things that are not feasible to grow in a small plot: grains and tropical goods. We’re allowed to buy flour as well as other grains and rice. Tea, coffee, chocolate, olive oil, and other easily transportable tropical products can be brought in as well. This means we’re not buying perishable items brought in from far away, which requires a large amount of fossil fuels for rapid transportation.

Other approved purchases are things that might later be produced at home. Cheese is the big example. We also have a good store of dried peas, lentils, and beans. For the most part, these will be bought in bulk.

Cooking from Scratch

In addition to limiting our purchases to geographical and logistical limitations, we’re going to avoid purchasing things we can make at home: pasta, bread, and soy milk, for example. Not only will this encourage us to use our existing stores, we’ll be living on the cheap and know exactly what’s going into our food. The down side is that it takes more time. We’ll report back through the fall and winter as to how our stores are holding up.


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