The benefits of self-sufficient living and growing your own food

There are so many benefits of healthy living in this way, where does one begin? Here are several areas that I feel must be discussed when I try to explain self-sufficient homesteading to others: the body, the mind and the spirit.

Benefits of Growing Your Own Food: Body

Taking time to appreciate a spider in its web while doing garden work is one of the many benefits of growing your own food. (Tracy Schmidt photo)
Taking time to appreciate a spider in its web while doing garden work is one of the many benefits of growing your own food. (Tracy Schmidt photo)

The body physically benefits from eating food grown at home in several ways.

The variety of foods eaten tend to be leaner, healthier foods such as berries, nuts, mushrooms, fish and venison. People practicing self-sufficient living tend to grow organic produce and limit their exposure to processed food.

Many individuals living self-sufficient embrace food preservation: freezing, canning and drying so they can enjoy their locally grown/gathered foods and home grown foods all year long.

Gardeners may choose to garden without pesticides like we do. I use minimally intrusive methods for weeding, like a scuttle hoe (a.k.a. stirrup hoe and shuffle hoe) and my hands.

Another of the body benefits of growing your own food is the exercise that comes naturally. Whether you are weeding your garden, hauling water to your livestock or dragging a deer, a self-sufficient life  is very physical in nature.

Benefits of Growing Your Own Food: Mind

The self-sufficient lifestyle requires planning, strategy and research.

You have to understand what resources are available through the seasons. You have to understand how to harvest and gather and preserve those natural materials. You have to understand how to use those resources to your benefit and then understand how to give them back. Composting is a good example.

Learning to hunt and fish successfully takes a lot of strategic thinking, as does planning a garden that will provide enough quantity of food and varieties of food to last throughout the year.

Knowing what types of wood to harvest and burn and how to best dry it is important. Knowing where to store your wood and how long it will take to dry takes thought.

Benefits of Growing Your Own Food: Spirit

The third area effected by self-sufficient homesteading is the spirit. For me, the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle and the peace that comes from knowing your place in the natural world are of primary importance.

When I work all day in my garden and see what is happening around me and how everything in the world somehow magically works I am stunned into silence. I marvel at how the large garden spider has spun a large web in my raspberry patch. It creeps out onto its web as night falls to catch insects. I leave it alone and pick my berries around it and actually look forward to seeing it each twilight. The birds singing in the trees wait for me to finish hoeing so they can look for worms in the freshly worked soil.

When I hunt, I get up early and watch the world come alive at dawn. The birds land on my hat and the squirrels run through the leaves. At dusk I watch dragonflies eating mosquitoes in the field like swarms of helicopters. These things lift my spirit.

What also lifts my spirit is being able to teach my kids how to survive in the real world. The world beyond the TV screen. The world where they know if something happens and the power goes out we have lots of jars of healthy food that they helped grow waiting to be opened. No food fairy from the grocery store required.

For me, self-sufficient living is an amazing life journey. It is about hard work, but its benefits reach far beyond monetary frugality. In short, it is all about quality.


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