The Value of Food
Food, all food has a value to it. From what you are willing to pay for it to is it worth eating. Is it healthy and grown responsibly? Let’s not forget how are you going to stockpile it for future use or prepare it to eat now.
Huge choices to make on a daily basis for any homemaker. As homemaker, feeding your family is one of the most important jobs and responsibilities in my mind. I think about it several times a day and am constantly planning for it and around it.
One thing most in my mind lately is the quality of food. It doesn’t matter if I grew it myself, or bought it at the farmer’s market. How good is it and can I trust it. Am I willing to pay the price if it isn’t what I thought it was. GMOs sneaking into the food system here in the US is a scary thing to me. Disease, bacteria, artificial ingredients, poor quality control in our factories and processing plants. Using purified sludge for crop irrigation.
Even a simple cut of beef at the local grocery is weeks old, has been frozen and refrozen several times, handled in who knows how many processing plants, by who knows how many people and who knows what the sanitary conditions were. It has been injected with water and salt, and sent through ultraviolet lights to clean it up again and injected with food die to make it pretty again.
Yesterday a package of hamburger I watched the store employee just set out had a sell by date only 3 days from now. This was out of the “Natural Meat” section of the cooler.
My point is I see the food system failing by my standards. The food is going to you know where in a hand basket. A plastic one at that.
What other choices do I have? I could purchase the products from smaller local farmers I know and trust or produce my own.
Some problems I have are space, knowledge and time to care for, manage and process my own. I am fortunate to have some room for meat animals and gardens. For me the choice is a mixture of both, raise my own and buy from local farms. I need to start small and see through hands on work what I am comfortable with and can manage time wise. I have the knowledge or can get it to prepare from basic ingredients meals for my family. Mac and cheese doesn’t come from a blue box around here. It comes from a storage container with many pounds of noodles bought from the natural food store, the fridge where there are large blocks of local cheese and glass jars of fresh unpasturized milk also from our local farmer, and bread crumbs made from our own home made bread.
I am not up to raising beef this year, but I will share the cost with someone willing to do the work and help with the processing later on. This is what our plans are. Come mid summer there will be beef for sale to be raised by someone else and I can purchase the meat all packaged by the hanging pound. Fill my freezer with healthy, wholesome meat for my family. Without all the work and space needed for the animal. I will rely on the local farmer who is offering this service and product. A good sound choice for my family.
I have the space time and desire to raise a pig or two for the season. If plans go well there will be a couple here on the farm for the summer.
Chickens I can and am willing to put the time and space into. I am working on starting and raising my own flock of meat birds. This year will only be chickens, but there are plans to add turkey and ducks. In the incubator are 14 Delaware chicken eggs that will hatch in 21 days (If all goes well). Come fall I will choose 6 of the biggest, well defined and healthy hens and one rooster to keep over winter and develop my own flock of meat birds. The rest will be processed and put into the freezer. During this time I will also have the use of their eggs. Next year I will hatch eggs from those saved birds and raise birds again to save for the flock and put the rest in the freezer. The flock will be managed and grow to a reasonable size to feed my family.
I’m sure you know if you have been stopping here often that this was the plan for the Black Java chickens I have been trying to raise since early fall last year. I ordered hatching eggs, 2 hatched and they are not the Black Java I ordered. I ordered 12 chicks in January and haven’t seen them yet. In desperation I ordered more hatching eggs from a different source and they should be here soon to incubate. You know the old saying, try, try again.
I want the Black Java for eggs and also meat. Two heritage breeds will be a good start. Using the same practice I will keep some and put the rest in the freezer. You may ask why not just order some of those super cross-breed jumbo chickens & feed them for 8 weeks and be done with it.
My answer to that is I have an interest in preserving the heritage and integrity of our local farmers and proven time tested foods. Around here that is not the way it was done. This practice doesn’t lead to self sufficiency, it leads to relying on some chicken farm somewhere mass producing food no matter the form it comes to me in. Chick or frozen bird. I want the control to know how they are fed and cared for, to know they are healthy to start with. To know that if all goes well I can choose to hatch more eggs and increase the size of my flock without relying on anyone else. Those cross breed meat birds will not be able to even walk by the time they reach an age to reproduce.
I will be relying on some grain company to supply the feed, but not all of the feed. I am growing extra veggies and worms for the flock. I am wild harvesting grasses, clover and roots for them as well. I will be sprouting and feeding whole grains, dehydrate the veggies I can and put others in cold storage to feed fresh, sun drying the wild harvested grasses and stored in grain bags kept in a cool dry place. Will all this planning work? I don’t honestly know yet, but I will keep working at it until the system is satisfactory for our needs.
My hope one day is to have a large enough flock of heritage birds to offer them for eggs, meat and breeding stock to add income to the farm. A dream at this point but for me it’s all about baby steps.
I’m off this evening to pick up supplies to build the run for the birds. Dick laughed at me last night when I told him that, he said what for?, your 2 birds? Joking with me and teasing me, knowing how dissapointed I am with my results thus far. I smiled and said, ayuh’ thu flaaawk is growin’ every day. I cannn get theyah’ from heeah’! And it’s gonna’ be wicked. Using my best New Hampshire accent. Translated for you non New Englanders: yes, the flock is growing every day. I can get there from here (meaning I can do it). And it’s going to be wonderful. (tap, tap, tap on the shoulder)
Hope you have a wonderful day