Episode-647- 12 Methods of Individual Food Production

Today I think we need to really begin to think about individual food production.  I 100% meant what I said yesterday about fearing future food shortages and as a result skyrocketing food prices.  America was once a “nation of farmers”, yet I think that statement gets misunderstood.

In our nation of farmer, yes, there were many true farmers in the way we generally think of the word.  Families who farmed more than 100 acres and literally earned their living from their land.  Yet at the same time countless men were tradesman and professionals as a primary source of income but still maintained a “farm” from a few to a few dozen acres.

These farms fed their families and raised additional income by selling surplus.  They also preserved much of the harvest to deal with winter shortages and other hard times.  Somewhere along the way the time clock and next promotion began to bury the small farms in the new reality of suburbia.  Yet even in the initial stages of suburbia the spirit lived on for a while.   Today we must continue to rekindle our roots as producers of food.

Join me today as we discuss…

  • What became of our “nation of farmers”
  • Methods of individual food production
    1. Conventional gardening
    2. Guerrilla gardening
    3. Foraging
    4. Hunting
    5. Fishing
    6. Trapping
    7. Plant and forget
    8. Small Livestock
    9. Permaculture
    10. Aquaponics
    11. Container Gardening
    12. Food preservation

Additional Resources for Today’s Show

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23 Responses to Episode-647- 12 Methods of Individual Food Production

  1. The thing that is not understood today is that the word State not only signifies a government but that government is separate and independent from any other government. When this country was born the only power the Federal government had was as a go between to the States and a go between our States and other countries. What happened? We fell asleep.

    Shorty

  2. I’d like to suggest the following site/blog as an excellent resource for small-scale agriculture. Rob (one straw) has been really pushing the limits of small scale ag and energy production for several years now. His blog is full of excellent ideas and information on just what is possible in small spaces:

    http://onestrawrob.com/

  3. Hi Jack,
    If you havent already, please checkout Joel Salatins Polyface farm, although a large farm for market, he has the right attitude of stewarding the land, Many of his practices are sustainable and usable by the private/small farmer.
    Jansprout

  4. Regarding fishing, I made the point on the forum (after listening to an older show) that wild caught fish is healthier than farm-raised. Someone made the point that some fish “in the wild” is stocked and was previously farm-raised. But in any case, accounting for that complication you can actually get a healthier product from the wild than you may get in the store.

  5. I was raised on a farm. My dad worked 8 hours a day at a job and we farmed in the evenings and on weekends. Long hard days were the norm for our family. I left the farm but the farm never left me. My wife and I have raised gardens in North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas, Alaska and Colorado.

    We concur with your assertion that people need to know how to produce their own food. When our present government finishes destroying our economy, we will either provide our own food or go hungry.

    We compost to provide our own fertilizer which is better than the commercial stuff. We utilize bins and worm composters. Worm tea really makes the plants produce and inhibits disease as well.
    When TSHTF commercial fertilizers will be too expensive to use if they are available at all.

    We live in the edge of a town of about 600,000 on a 10,000sf lot. The soil here is extremely poor and is mostly sand. The soil has virtually no nutrients and holds water for about 10 seconds. By utilizing raised garden beds, smart pots, and UrBin planters we can produce much or our own food. If we eliminated more of our grass, we could produce it all. Remember, raised garden beds will produce about one and a half times the food raised in conventional gardens.

    Long term survival will require knowledge of composting, multiple gardening techniques, and raising animals for food. You will also need to know how to construct a root cellar and utilize it effectively. Canning meat and vegatables will be essential as will smoking and salt curing meats.

    When “preping”, remember to set aside a large quantity of a variety of seeds. Don’t forget the canning supplies and salt either.

    Don’t be like the majority of the people in our country – TOTALLY UNPREPARED.

  6. Hmmm, one of my comments seems to be gone.

    I can’t say how eager I am to get moving on this path. Starting with Gardening, and hoping to get some wild-growth going as well.
    We’ve got a town regulation about livestock as I understand it, but a friend’s Aunt has some property that is grandfathered, so that opens some potential for chickens or the like.

    Aquaponics is also something that would be awesome, but honestly, I am bit overwhelmed with the garden at this point–a lot to learn.

  7. I second the Joel Salatins Polyface farm comment. Anyway to get Joel on for an interview?

  8. Joel is a knowledgable guy and is obviously successful, but now charges big bucks for his time.

  9. Jack,

    Is it time to do a segment (or an entire show) dedicated to firefighting and fire prevention?

    C C

  10. Chris Harrison

    Jack, while I appreciate and agree with the overall message of your podcast today, I have to tell you that your historical interpretation is very misleading.

    The first is really just a minor detail — when you talked about Aaron Burr, I think you actually meant Alexander Hamilton. Burr was a Democratic-Republican like Jefferson, and was also Jefferson’s first vice president. Hamilton was a leading Federalist, the architect of the First Bank of the United States, and a big believer in a strong federal government leading the United States into industrialism.

    Second is a minor detail as well — the Jeffersonians did not become the Republicans. The Republican Party did not exist until 1856, and it was born out of the ashes of the Northern Whigs — who were big believers in industrialism. The Jeffersonians actually became the original Democratic Party under Andrew Jackson.

    Where I really disagree, however, is your assessment of the relationship between agrarianism and industrialism, specifically your assertion that the two actually strengthened each other. Based on my study of American History (especially the period up to and immediately after the Civil War) at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I think that nothing is further from the truth. Jeffersonian agrarianism is a decentralized system by its very nature — part of the reason that Jefferson believed that we needed at least 20% of the nation to be small-scale, independent yeoman farmers was so that a critical mass of people had the complete self-sufficiency that enabled them to refuse to cooperate with the government when it overstepped its bounds (something that your modern survivalism philosophy probably shares).

    The goals of industrialism were completely opposite to this, because it is a system that is wholly based on increasing centralization and specialization. As such, it cannot function unless people are compelled to become dependent upon it for their livelihood. There is no accident that the term “wage slavery” developed during the early republic to describe what it meant to work in a factory — it was a state of dependence upon a more powerful other, one that by its very nature undermined the liberty of a desire for self-sufficiency free from the influence of market forces.

    Lastly, it is important to note which side government usually came down on in this fight. Chief among its weapons to compel people toward industrialism were the payment of taxes in hard currency. Of course, small farmers rebelled against this repeatedly — Shays’ Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion being just two examples — but in each case the government and industrialism succeeded in undermining just a little bit of liberty in order to compel people to serve the centralized model. This has continued until we have arrived at where we are today — a point at which most of us have to engage the “market” (another term for centralized, industrialized society) in order to even gain the ability to eventually withdraw from it through self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

    I could go on and on about this in more detail, but this post is already long enough as it is. If you want more details on it, I would be happy to respond. One of the major papers I wrote on a Civil War course explored the life of the southern yeomanry — the mass of independent, non-slaveholding farmers in the pre-war South — and what compelled them to support the cause of slavery. What I found was that the slave system, as strange as it sounds, actually protected them from the market forces that undermined the northern yeomanry, because it kept the forces of industrialism largely at bay.

  11. Modern Survival

    @Chris

    1. On Burr vs. Hamilton you are right and this is something I did before. I simply misspoke and having done so before it was like playing golf on a course where say hole 4 and hold 12 are identical. You hit a bad shot on 4, when you get to 12 you think I am NOT going to do that again, than you do. However I don’t see this as a big deal or really worth mentioning.

    2. On the party origins you got me, sort of. I consider the republican party to be far more in line with Jeffersonian principals than the democratic party. Well at least the claimed goals of republican politicians. We both know NEITHER party does what they say they are going to do today. NEITHER is really linked to either Jefferson, Adams or any of the founders true principals.

    3. While you contention that the sides of industrial and agriculture were in opposition has merit I think you missed the point and your opinion has little to do with the reality of what occurred. It also has NOTHING to do with what I said in this episode.

    In fact I can’t see how anyone could argue that America wasn’t built on a combination of agricultural and industrial might. Take away EITHER side and the nation would be a shadow of what it is today. I never said coal miners and farmers or factory owners and ranchers got together and sang round of Kumbaya.

    Only that we were a nation of farmers at one time and at the same time an industrial nation and the strengths of both led to our rise to prominence. That we could never have become the world leader we are/were without both. Both sides in effect won and therefore so did the nation.

    If you disagree with that I respect your view but totally disagree with it. Noting about why the War Between the States was fought will change that. I am talking about what happened, the results and you are focused on why the opposition existed. More important to me is way the opposition played out with both sides becoming HUGE components of America’s success.

  12. Chris Harrison

    Jack, I think I may not have stated the final part of my argument clearly enough, most likely because of space/time restrictions. If I am focused on why the opposition existed in the first place, it’s largely because I don’t believe that you can figure out where you’re going until you understand where you’ve been.

    A central idea of Jeffersonian democracy was one of DECENTRALIZATION, and that is precisely why it conflicted so much with the Federalists’ (and later Whigs/Republicans) ideas of centralized government and industrial development. It wasn’t about an increasing scale of agricultural production that made America into a world power — that actually has much more to do with the impacts of industrialization than anything even remotely close to Jeffersonian ideals.

    My main point of contention with your narrative is that you start at Jeffersonian democracy based upon agrarian self-sufficiency, and you make a leap to the combination of export farming (with its reliance on debt in order to finance larger-scale operations) and industrialism becoming the bedrock of American preeminence in the world. The modern America that you cite is almost wholly HAMILTON’S vision, not Jefferson’s. I’m far from the only person who has come to this conclusion — the NY Historical Society ran an exhibit several years ago titled, “The Man Who Made Modern America” about Hamilton’s influence (http://www.alexanderhamiltonexhibition.org/).

    I’m not arguing in any way, shape or form against the idea that American might was founded upon a combination of market agriculture and industrial development. What I AM arguing is that the Hamiltonian model that this represents is NOT a model for the survivalist way of life that your show champions, and that I happen to share as well. The philosophy that you share is much, much more based on a Jeffersonian ethos. My point in returning to the source of this conflict is that you cannot have it both ways. It was the very development of modern America itself — the Hamiltonian vision — that slowly eroded away over two centuries the liberty that you, me and many of your listeners believe in.

    Now, to be clear, I am not proposing that we can in any way turn back the clock to the pre-industrial days, nor that that would be desirable. What I WILL directly say, however, is that our goal of a life of personal (and, in my view, community) liberty may actually be OPPOSITE the desire to see America remain as a pre-eminent world power. The former is a model founded upon decentralization, while the latter is based upon increased centralization. And anywhere in human history that you have had increased centralization, you have the periphery being sacrificed for the growth of the imperial center (see Joseph Tainter’s _The Collapse of Complex Societies_ for much more on this phenomenon). America is no different in this regard — it may only appear different because we are living through it and under the influence of the national mythology posing as history that we are taught growing up.

    I’m all for us becoming a nation of farmers that support at least a portion of our own needs. Hell, it’s a personal project of mine and tied into my vision of that better life. I just recognize that this may actually come into conflict with the idea of what America has become and what many would like to see it remain. Based on your previous show on bugging out, I think that you recognize it too, in spite of the disagreement you’ve voiced with my historical interpretation.

  13. Maybe I am thinking of the wrong episode, but I’m looking for the World Bank link that I thought was to be posted with this show, could you post please?

  14. Here in Colorado we have something called the “Colorado Master Gardener” program offered through the local university.

    Here is a link to their publications:
    http://www.cmg.colostate.edu/pubs.shtml

    Your local college or county extension office probably has something similar. Look here:
    http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/

  15. Jack,

    I REALLY enjoyed today’s episode.

    You were talking about how our forbears would have loved aquaponics. It may be that some of the more well-traveled of our Founders may have already known about it, by other names. Both the Aztecs and ancient Asian cultures practiced forms of aquaponics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquaponics#Ancient

    Aquaponics is something I really want to get into.

  16. I’d like to add a food production concept: sprouting. You can sprout things that are great for long term storage (wheat berries, lentils, beans, all sorts of seeds). You can also get live food into your body all year long – which is awesome for the self-sufficiency types that have do deal with a sub-freezing winter. It doesn’t take up much space. From what I’ve read, sprouting stuff makes it more healthy than it was in “seed” form.

  17. I can’t wait for the show with Green Dean. I’ve been taking Christopher Nyerges’ wild food classes for over a year now and I can’t tell you how it has helped my self-confidence.

    I eat a wild salad several times a week and have started growing my own lambs quarter.

    Keep up the good work, Jack.

  18. LisaPainterGirl

    I’ve been having FUN guerrilla gardening. I’ve been getting native perennial edibles like the American ground nut, jeruselum artichoke, etc..and randomly planting them along the bike trail, in a close by park/preserve, (in my mom’s backyard)… I feel like Johnny apple-seed.

    I’ve also been learning about and eating more edibles that are already right in my yard, like day-lilies, and violets. Good stuff!

    Enjoy and look forward to every episode Jack!

    BTW Chris-
    love your wording on,
    “the national mythology posing as history “

  19. Chris Harrison

    Hey Jack, I just wanted to say that in spite of any minor disagreement over historical interpretation at the beginning of this show, the meat of it was still fantastic. I just had only listened to about the first 1/3 of it before commenting (my morning commute had just ended, and I didn’t conclude the episode until my evening commute).

    Keep up the great work on this stuff. Your own story continues to inspire me to fully disengage from the corporate world and move to living the life I want within the next five years.

  20. Thanks Chris for the correction. Aaron Burr is one of my ancestors, so I think it is worth mentioning, it’s a matter of family honor! Don’t worry, I won’t challenge anyone to a duel! I’d probably lose! :-) With 20,000+ listeners worldwide, of varying backgrounds and ages, I don’t think everyone would catch this detail.

    Interesting factoid – Burr actually wanted Jefferson to be president, but 30 rounds of votes in the electoral college strained their relationship. Hamilton was most dismayed to see the two big Anti-Federalists running for president. Unfortunately, the political party system was born out of that election. I have heard both that the Democratic-Republicans gave birth to the Democrats and the Republicans. I’ll have to research. The two parties are again the same.

    Just last week, I watched a documentary on PBS that credited Hamilton for making America. It was nauseating with their reverence for that bastard. I highly recommend, for those who are interested, “The Whiskey Rebellion” by William Hogeland. Of interest are how the states dealt with debt, what happened to their money, how the US assumed the states’ debt, how speculators got rich and how the average person got ripped-off. The book describes how Hamilton wove a web to capture all Americans into the system of taxation, money, credit and debt. It also describes the problems the new nations monetary system created for the farmers. Most have never seen gold before, much less had access to the precious metals required to pay taxes. They bartered. When the US government required payment on stills in advance, that destroyed them. LewRockwell.com and Thomas DiLorenzo also have information on how Hamilton was one bad dude.

    Jack, this was a fascinating, captivating episode! I have shared it with my new neighbors who have moved from the big city into a beautiful, expensive home across the street last week. As my town has a reputation for being pretentious and snooty, I was concerned what they would think of my projects until I introduced myself and found that they are into Permaculture as well! I was thinking of moving, but having just one household into permaculture is a huge incentive to stay since it magnifies my capabilities. It is amazing that you do what you do. You have an amazing ability to present so much information in a fascinating, captivating and useful manner! I look forward to every episode! I think Green Dean and Joel Salatin would be awesome guests! I have also been concerned about fire prevention, too since I live in an antique house. I am afraid that a house or wildfire fire are more likely than a total societal collapse.

  21. patty t., alabama

    what can you do with crabapples?

  22. Jack,
    Your mention of Aquaponics reminded me of a story I think was in Mother Earth News bout 30 years ago that has always intrigued me. There was a family who kept farm raised catfish and then decided to add beekeeping to their mix. They ended up building a steel framework with a catwalk to site the apiary above the fish pond. If you’ve seen or raised bees you know that worker bees have a rather short lifespan and that there are many dead bees swept out of the hive in the course of a summer. By siteing the apiary above the pond, these bees added an additional protein source to the catfish, and the claim was that it made a noticeable difference. Kind of the ultimate in re-use by really thinking out of the box.