It is spring 2014, quickly approaching summer. Across the nation drought and illness and loss of honey bees have caused major losses in our food supply. This means higher prices for the food you buy, from meat to dairy and eggs, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Add into this the decreasing value of the dollar and you can see many people are going to be struggling, especially those in the mid-range economic class that are not eligible for social welfare programs. In the last year my average grocery bill went from $150 a week for a family of 4 without a garden (total flop in 2013 meant we had to buy all our fruits and vegetables at the store) to $200-250 a week in the month of May, and that does not include what I spend on the livestock feed. With a garden at least half that could be saved, and add in the dairy goats, pigs, chicken, ducks and turkey for milk, meat and eggs and you can save even more. Well, in the long run, if you don’t over-populate your homestead, you can at least turn the money into your stock instead of putting it into questionable products at the store.
Take a look at this news article;
“Beef and veal prices for the whole of 2014 are now forecast to increase by 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent, a sharp advance from last month’s forecast for a 3 to 4 percent rise. Pork prices are set to rise by 3 percent to 4 percent, up from a 2 to 3 percent advance expected a month ago.
The USDA said overall U.S. food price inflation for 2014, including food bought at grocery stores and food bought at restaurants, would rise by 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent in 2014.”
“Egg prices are also climbing – up 15 percent in April alone – and are expected to rise by 5 to 6 percent on the year, and higher milk prices are feeding through to other products in the dairy case, particularly cheese.”
This may not seem too bad, but they don’t even have projections yet for fruit and vegetable price increases! In the last year we have taken our property, with nothing edible and long established grass, and we have added fruit trees that are actually producing a handful of fruit this year, installed a huge garden cut from the grass that will provide all our fresh eating for this year. Next year it will provide enough to preserve for winter as well. It will provide winter food in our mid-southern climate, something invaluable to our family. Last winter we kept costs low by eating only root crops and beans all winter, but we were all starved for greens. Now we can eat them for pennies all winter long with just a little planning. It has been work; a LOT of work! It is worth it though. As I see reports like the one linked above all I can do is be thankful we have the knowledge and health to take our food into our own hands. We are still dependent on others for some things, but as we get established we will be able to create a mini-ecosystem that mostly sustains itself on our property.
I want to encourage each of you that read this to get started. Everyone should have a small garden, either in pots, raised beds, or in their lawn. Everyone should have a handful of hens for meat and eggs, a cheap, easy to keep animal that can sustain you when other things fail. The key is to start NOW, with SOMETHING, so you are not starting out when things are so bad you barely survive.