I’ve been blogging for a while and more recently, in a personal way. You’ve been given glimpses into how we live and gear our lives. And after my last post, its likely a few people are thinking we’re a wee bit crazy in our extremeness, in our pursuits of traditional living!
I mean, why would someone try so hard to raise all their own vegetables when there’s a grocery store within walking distance? A wonderful farmer’s market? Why raise heritage turkeys for butchering and hunt for our red meat when we could just watch sales and stock up then? Why buy eggs from a small farm, instead of purchasing perfectly clean (and also bleached) ones from the cooler in the dairy isle?
If that isn’t crazy enough, why would someone try to preserve all that food for winter? Pouring hours into canning, fermenting and freezing food they’ve grown and harvested with their own two hands?
Why would someone do that to themselves…unless they actually were crazy?
If I’m perfectly honest, this time of year the same question sometimes flashes through my head! Am I crazy? But then, it doesn’t take long to be reminded that, yep! It’s totally worthwhile!
TRADITIONAL LIVING FOR NUTRITION’S SAKE
We’re all about nutrition. Until you experience living in a weakened body with a low-functioning immune system, you don’t realize how nutrition-less and totally nourishment-lacking our mainstream food system is. And me? I can literally feel the difference in my body. Good food wards off sickness by keeping my immune system strong. I can think better on good food. I’m stronger on real food. I feel better on good food. I’m a wholer (that isn’t a word, is it?!), happier, better person when my diet is based on nutritious food.
Nutrition is huge for those who battle CLD and by keeping the body strong, I hope to avoid relapse.
The more I understand about how commercial growers and grocery stores function, the more dissatisfied I become with the system. Even simple things.
Like harvesting produce and letting it sit a cooler…for months. Everyone knows that as soon as produce is removed from the plant (its source of life and nourishment), it begins breaking down. This isn’t bad. It’s God’s design, that as produce and plants die, they rot/mold/break down and compost, feeding the soil they fall upon.
But this long-term sitting before being consumed? It has an effect even on simple things, such as vitamins.
Vitamins in (most) foods are fragile. Some food types will deplete to half their vitamin content within 7 days of being refrigerated. Seven days! And if the produce was picked (in the best scenario) 2-3 weeks prior? Bam! You’ve lost most of your vitamins.
It’s not only vitamins that matter. Food is complex, each part being intertwined with another. I won’t try to explain it at this point, ’cause though I know some details, the rest is w-a-a-y-y-y beyond my full understanding!
TRADITIONAL LIVING FOR CLEAN FOOD
Chemical-free food. This is another driving factor in our lifestyle choice. As you look at how God intended plants and soil to function, you can’t help but conclude that the North American food system is messed up. Really messed up, folks!
Good food begins with good soil. And it needs to be fed like everything else (of which we are learning, slowly-but-surely)!
As we grow most of our own vegetables, we have a say in whether or not our soil contains chemical fertilizers, whether or not we use sprays to keep pests at bay. That control is in our hands.
When going natural, nature does throw kinks our way. Some years, the weather is cooler and hot-weather plants don’t do well. Sometimes, the summers are hot and cold-weather crops don’t do well! Some years, the cabbage moth is worse than others. I’ve come to realize that in our location, I can’t grow rutabagas and turnips without their being infested by the flea beetle and their larvae. Going natural will either limit you or require more work.
Gotta be truthful about that!
But I’ll take it, in order to avoid commercially raised food that is (usually) grown in soil containing chemical fertilizers, that contains pesticides from heavily sprayed crops.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. We could get into things like the misconception on “organic” foods labels, on GMO seeds, sprays that are used to help prolong the shelf life of foods. But I won’t!
Why? Because I do get it, in part.
RABBIT TRAIL: I DO GET IT
Though I try to avoid mass produced food, I do get our modern food system. In some ways, it does lead to “success.” Even vegetable seeds that are started in your local greenhouse require less work and attention if they have a chemical coating that will deter mice from eating them.
If someone makes their living by producing food, they need to mass produce. And if they mass produce, the land (on its own) can’t keep up to the toll it takes. Where there is mass produce, pests/fungus/diseases will naturally appear and must be dealt with somehow. And if mass produced food is to be distributed half way across the country, it needs to make it there, in good shape.
I get it!
When living on the northern prairies, I knew more than a few grain/canola farmers. Yep. Massive grain farms up there! Run by people I know, love and respect. Just as I love my lifestyle, they love theirs and take pride in their work. We share common goals. They also want a well-fed family, to one day live debt free, to use what they have to help others.
I respect that!
And I recognize that I have the ability to choose the quality of food I put into my body. If I don’t want to use canola oil, then I don’t have to. And if I don’t like what goes into mass produced food, I have available alternatives. And its the alternative route we’ve chosen to take…without trying to convert everyone around us.
Oh, the change didn’t come overnight, but slowly, over the course of 7? 8? 9? years! One step at a time! I know what type of food helps me lead the best life. So I choose it. Nuff said.
I’ll step off the soapbox now, and return to the topic at hand. What were we talking about? Oh yes! Why we choose traditional living. Right!
TRADITIONAL LIVING FOR A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Traditional living lends itself to a healthy lifestyle, with plenty of exercise, sunshine and fresh air. Raising food requires that a portion of our daily activities move from house to outdoors. You’ve gotta move to plant, weed and water the garden. To collect eggs or chase the animals that got out. To put up better fence lines. To milk the cow, feed the sheep, spend time observing the health of your animals. This lifestyle is wholesome and can greatly benefit your health!
TRADITIONAL LIVING FOR SATISFACTION’S SAKE
This lifestyle satisfies something deep inside. Oh, I know it’s not so for everyone. But for me, it is! I am filled by watching tiny seeds grow to produce food that we can eat. I love seeing a hen proudly step out with her new brood of peeping babies. I feel deeply satisfied when I see jars of home canned food all lined up in a row. I love the smell of fresh baked, whole-grain bread. I love how raising our own food brings me outdoors where I can observe changes of nature: the first green bud, the first baby deer, first orange leaf, the first snowfall on the mountains.
I love relying on the land! It fills something deep within. I’m wired to live this way.
TRADITIONAL LIVING FOR BONDING
Living in this manner gives us something to fight for. As a family or friends, we battle the weather, pests and predators. If we succeed, we (not I) succeed. If we lose, we (not I) lose. Should we need to adjust something in our system, we (not I) think, figure and decide on a plan of action.
Traditional living gives us something to work toward…together. Though it isn’t the deepest method of bonding (I’d say fighting for God’s will on earth is), somehow it seems family/friends are designed to bond through working together. Literally. I think one element of bonding with others is sharing life.
TRADITIONAL LIVING FOR ENJOYMENT & BEAUTY
Being in touch with the land is…awe-inspiring to me. Welcoming the first honeybee of the year, the first dandelion, first lambs, calves and colts. Enjoying the richness of summer, the first fresh produce, foraging for berries, the year end harvest and cozying up for the winter. To observe the beautiful changes nature brings our way. Each season has its own unique charm! And for some of us, our cup is filled as we live in and soak up all that beauty.
To be sure, it isn’t always beautiful. It’s the difficult moments that enrich the beautiful ones. We know what it’s like to lose, therefore we can more greatly appreciate the gain.
We may be a wee bit crazy. But this craziness is enriching and totally worth it!