Independence Days Challenge!
And for the first time, I'm in.
So what is the Independence Days Challenge? You can read more about it here, but it is basically a way of thinking about food, broken down into a manageable number of steps.
I think a lot of people are concerned about their local food systems, food safety and quality, and other food issues, but get bogged down in the complexity of it all.
And it is complex. There are so many factors to consider, and everyone has their own priorities, skills and limitations. One reason I like this challenge is that it isn't a set of "rules" about what to eat, what not to eat, how much money to spend, etc. It's simply a number of items to try to accomplish, in your own way, on a weekly basis.
And just what are those items?
1. Plant Something. Obviously, those of us in the north aren't going to be out planting seeds in our garden in February, but this also can include garden planning, seed starting, etc.
2. Harvest Something. Again, unless you have a way of growing year round (and there are cheap ways of doing this), most of us won't be harvesting in the winter, but it can include things like sprouting and microgreens - which also count under "plant something".
3. Preserve Something. This is something I need to get better at. Many of us do the big canning sessions during the harvest season, but preserving is something that can happen year round. It obviously includes traditional winter preserves such as marmalade, but can also include making applesauce out of those apples that aren't storing well, freezing the last of the winter squash that are staring to soften, pressure canning the stock you made from Sunday's roast, etc.
4. Waste Not. This is one that I REALLY need to address. I'm embarrassed at the amount of food I waste, and it needs to stop. One big step: I need to get better at saving scraps for stock.
5. Want Not. This is about building up your food stash for emergencies and long-term needs. And no, it's NOT hoarding ;)
6. Eat the Food. Yes, this is important. It covers such things as rotating your food storage, and eating out of that storage. It also covers trying new recipes - and for me, it covers giving myself permission to eat my preserved food.
7. Build Community Food Systems. This is one I think I'll have the biggest problem with, given my hermit-loner proclivities, but it is important. It addresses improving your local food systems, but I think, for me, it will be more about hunting out local resources. I think this is one that really depends on where you are on your journey - if you know all your local producers, you can work more on sharing that information. But you have to know your local producers first :)
8. Skill Up. This is new this year, and it addresses learning new skills that may come in useful in the coming years. I'm choosing not to limit this to food, but to include any new skill I want to learn - from seed storage to soap making, and everything in between!
I choose to do this challenge according to my own resources and priorities, and so for now, items 7 & 8 will be monthly items, while I hope to report on the other six weekly.
So, how about it? Are you in? And even if you aren't completely in, try to at least keep these steps in mind and think about where your food comes from, and how resilient your local food system is. And how resilient you are when it comes to feeding yourself and your families.
And really, it will be FUN! Really. :)
Side note: Sharon Astyk is an incredible resource and I cannot recommend both her blog and her books enough. I have her first three books, and re-read them often for both information and inspiration. And I'll be first in line to buy her fourth when it is published this year.