We’re about to enter our 22nd month of not buying food at the grocery store. The 22nd month. Nearly 2 years of avoiding processed food. I documented the first year over at our other blog, A Year Without Groceries, but have pretty much tapered off to a once a month cheese challenge post over there. It was too much to keep up both blogs especially right now when I’m in the midst of the worst writers block I’ve ever had. It’s why I haven’t posted much lately so forgive me.
Last week we decided to make some stir-fry for dinner from one of the wild turkeys that Tom had gotten last turkey season but we were out of soy sauce. We ended up digging out old, and I mean really old – in the realm of over 3 years old – packets of soy sauce that Tom had come across in our camping box. Looking back at it I realize it was pretty ridiculous and we probably should have just made something else for dinner.
And then this weekend our apricot tree decided it was time for us to take her bounty before the squirrels and birds descended upon her to clean her out. 70lbs of apricots came off of our little tree. My friend, Brandy, and I spent all day Sunday processing 60lbs of them. We made preserves, canned some in syrup, dried them and froze some. I stood there in my kitchen with 5 gallon buckets filled to the brim with apricots, no room to store them and not enough sugar or honey to process them. I had to use brown sugar instead, which I had just enough of to do a second batch of preserves.
This past weekend I had come to a realization. I chatted about it extensively with some of my homesteading/foodie friends to get their opinion. I talked with Tom quite a bit about it as well. I feel better about my decision and want to be upfront about it with all of you. I can’t do it all. I can’t make it all and I most certainly can’t bend the will of nature. If we want to preserve what we produce we can’t wait until our next buying club order which could be a month away or the next time we can harvest honey from our bees. There are some things I just can’t make efficiently (and sometimes legally) like soy sauce, fish sauce, hard alcohol, 5% acidity vinegar, cane sugar, etc. We’ve proven that we can give up the grocery store for nearly 2 years. We had to sacrifice the foods we loved because we couldn’t make them ourselves. So the decision has been made.
We’re going back to the grocery store. But there will be a big difference between going to the grocery store now versus the grocery store trips before our project. We will limit our trips to stores that we feel are more responsible. That means no Safeway or Lucky’s. Also we will not be purchasing baked goods, produce, meat, milk or eggs from the grocery store. And definitely no “convenience” foods. We will only be buying that which we can’t make or grow at home (like wheat and sugarcane). If we can make it, grow it or buy it directly from a farmer we won’t be buying it from the store.
To be honest, I was worried about discussing this here. One of my friends asked if I was concerned about losing readership because of this change. I was concerned but decided that it is more important that I be upfront and honest with my readers than just pretend everything is the same.
13 thoughts on “Soy Sauce and Apricots Did Me In”
I don’t see any problem with this at all! You’ve done an incredible job over the last 2 years not buying food from the grocery store. Having to lean on a few modern conveniences doesn’t diminish the hard work you’ve done in your own yard or the support you’ve leant to local farmers. I don’t think modern homesteading should be an all or nothing game- it should be a merging of old techniques and new aids that allow us to live healthy, productive lives and be responsible stewards of the earth. Your blog is an inspiration to me and I look forward to the information and help I’ll receive from your future posts.
Holey moley, that’s a lot of apricots! Thank you SO much for sharing this. I think it’s good to acknowledge the limitations of what we can produce on small acerage. I’m giving up trying to grow wheat! It’s just not worth it on 1/4 acre. I have not given up the grocery store, but because I’ve been reading your blog, I now THINK before I go. I evaluate my purchases more carefully. Cheers.
Way to go with the apricots! As for the shopping, honesty is the best policy. I enjoy reading your blog and have it list on my own blog. Thank you for sharing!
You have done an incredible job of providing abundance for yourself and your family without using the grocery store. Bravo! (Albeit I got physically tired just reading all the things you had to do, but I am an old lady 🙂 You and Tom have educated so many of us who have read your blog about eating and resourcing responsibly. Your certainly an inspiration to me.
Amen to all of the above, Rachel! I SO enjoy your writing AND yur honesty. I think about your and Tom’s endeavors throughout my day as we do more and more for ourselves….a trend we started early on (we are now in our sixties)and have more time for now. Your encouragement and your information are INVALUABLE! But wearing yourselves out to the point where it is no longer enjoyable would be, methinks, counter-productive. Please Keep On, Keepin’ On, for those who love what you do!
It’s not a bad thing 🙂 There are simply things that can’t be produced easily at home, and for those things, the grocery store is a great help 🙂
150 years ago, before we had our modern grocery stores, people still went to the general store for certain supplies. It just wasn’t a weekly thing. My grandfather would go to the general store three times a year 🙂
Rachel – I’ve read somewhere that raising rabbits for food is really a losing proposition in that feed costs far out weigh the value of the meat produced. Has that been your experience?
Max, I’ll have to look at my numbers for a specific answer but the generic answer is yes you can save money. However, you can’t compare the price of rabbit meat to the .99c/lb chicken meat at the grocery store which is heavily subsidized by our tax dollars. Then you won’t save money but comparing them to buying rabbit meat you will definitely save money.
forthright into the breach, my friend! or something like that – it’s my job to mess up quotes and make them mine 😉
honesty in EVERYTHING. that’s what i feel is most respectable about people. not that they can do it all (kinda glad you don’t or i might feel a bit discouraged LOL).
you ninny. how could people love you less for being honest?
anyway… more hands make less work so why not put out a cattle call next time you have a ‘harvest’ to attend to. i should love to see what a gazillion pounds of apricots look like. i would have pushed you to stick ’em in a wine tub and let me squish them with my feet, though, and that might not have been so good. ;D
I think it’s just a fact of life that you and your region cannot probably produce everything you consume unless you’re willing to be extremely ascetic in your family’s diet. We can certainly change our diets to maximize local consumption, and I think you are a stellar example of what that looks like. But I think ethical consumption of some items that are not locally grown is definitely possible (and can make life a lot more pleasurable).
Is Azure Standard your buying club? I get almost all the items you mentioned (except alcohol) though them, mostly organic, and at great prices. I’m sure there is a drop point in your area.
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