Self-sufficiency has been seen as a metaphor for a lower standard of living, going without the modern conveniences. In fact the opposite is true; to be self-sufficient is to aim for a higher standard of living by reducing our dependence on "the system" for our basic needs such as food, water and power.
Considering that the average city contains only sufficient food reserves for three days, it makes a great deal of sense to put yourself in a position to be able to supply most, if not all, your food needs. Similarly, as the cost of power continues to rise, the attraction of being power self-sufficient becomes increasingly obvious.
So how can we achieve this ideal?
A surprising variety of herbs and vegetables can be grown indoors, provided they receive adequate light and nutrients; if you choose compact varieties, they won't take up too much space.
Even if you rely on an outdoor garden, by harvesting and storing your crops you can have homegrown produce all year round. Many vegetables can be blanched and frozen, while herbs can be dried. Another alternative is to pickle or use preserving jars for your excess crop.
A small backyard can also be home to a few chickens to supply you with fresh eggs, provided you supply them with adequate shelter and protection from predators such as dogs or cats. A home-produced fresh egg, on toast made from home-baked bread, makes a wonderful start to the day. Chicken manure is excellent for your garden and your chickens will enjoy feasting on your leftover food scraps.
Even as the cost of power through the national grid increases, alternative power sources are becoming more affordable. Solar hot water panels to capture power from the sun can accommodate much of our hot water needs, even during winter time and this hot water can also be used for taking care of some of our heating needs.
While solar electricity is expensive to install, once the initial costs have been overcome, the system will provide virtually free power. Using solar electricity, supplemented by perhaps a wind generator and using low voltage lighting and appliances, it is possible to live in comfort, free from electricity bills.
Reduce your reliance on piped water by collecting rainwater from your roof; you may wish to include a filtration system before using this water for drinking or cooking. There is no harm in using collected rainwater directly for the garden or in toilets, however.
Want to know more about self-sufficient living? Choose from several excellent books available, for example, "The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It" by John Seymour, to gather more information and ideas.
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