Cultivating a Local Food System

As the War Mercantilist Socialism economy continues its downward grind, one of the most important tasks for distributists is to ensure local food security. I see six important elements that work together to support local food security:

(1) preparing meals from basic ingredients,
(2) frugal supermarket shopping,
(3) gardening,
(4) food storage,
(5) home preservation of food.
(6) buying local foods,

My posts in this Distributist Review over the next couple months will look at each of these aspects in detail. Since it is hard to "order" these principles in terms of "most important", I have listed them in a "functional" order. In other words, if you are coming at this brand new, this is probably the order of development for most households.

So lets begin at the beginning: preparing meals from basic ingredients.

Processed and packaged foods add money to the grocery bill, support large centralized food industries, and beggar the farmers while enriching transnational agribidness* corporations. This is not a distributist activity. Instead of buying the ersatz convenience of packaged foods -- which are typically larded with extra fat, salt, sugar, and more chemicals than I am able to understand -- a better idea is to prepare meals from basic ingredients. If you want bread -- and who doesn't -- bake your own. Indeed, baking your own bread is one of the best places to start. Many people think that baking is some kind of a mysterious art that is complicated but that's a kitchen myth. Here's a link to the Better Times Almanac Bread page. And here's a link to the easiest bread method ever -- Artisan Bread Making in 5 Minutes, which is a no-knead method. Another excellent bread-learning site is Breadtopia , which also has short instructional videos on various bread recipes and focuses on no-knead recipes.

NB: If your family does not habitually eat whole wheat bread, then don't start your bread making experience with whole wheat bread. You can add that later as your skills develop. Start where your family is, and if that means white bread, by all means bake your own white flour breads and biscuits.

The next trick to add to your distributist "Slow Food" kitchen is making your own sauces, stocks, and gravies. Like bread-baking, this is considered much more mysterious than it really is. Here are links to the Better Times Almanac pages on sauces/gravies and making your own stock.

But doesn't this take a lot of time? Well, all things have a learning curve. The first time you bake a loaf of bread or a pan of biscuits, it will take longer than it will once you have made 100 loaves of bread. If your first attempt isn't the best, remember the advice of my grandmother Dovie Waldrop when I complained about the poor quality of my pie crusts. "Bobby Max, the reason you can't make a good pie crust is because you haven't made enough pies. When you have made 100 pies, I bet your pie crust is as good as mine." Having made more than 100 pies, I don't know that I would claim it was as good as hers, but they are good enough to serve to company.

I also use my freezer extensively to make my own convenience foods. If I am making bread, I don't make one loaf, I make a bunch, and freeze most of the dough for cooking later. The various no-knead recipes make extra dough which is kept in the refrigerator and can be used every day! I make my own breakfast and lunch "pockets" and freeze them for fast eating later. If I am making beans or chili, I make a lot and freeze some for later. If I make a casserole, I make two and freeze one. I fry hamburger and package it in smaller packages for quick eating later. Etc., etc., etc. OK, so if this is hard to do at first -- practice makes perfect! The more you practice, the better you will get, and your family will love the way your food develops.

Our War Mercantilist Socialist culture considers food merely as fuel. Any cultural or familial content has been emptied out and discarded as irrelevant to modern times. Food should be acquired as quickly and conveniently as possible, and taste and nutrition are in the back seat. And so it comes to pass that baking your own bread can become a truly revolutionary, as well as a culinary, delight.


Anonymous,  Saturday, May 9, 2009 at 4:35:00 PM CDT  

This is fantastic ! Thanks for posting. "Bread for Dummies" ! Even I can do this.

Steve Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 7:44:00 AM CDT  

This is great - and really, there is not much to raising much more of our own food than we do. If you have a small patch of ground (like - the yard that some of us probably nurture to the point where it looks like Fenway Park) till it up and shove some green bean, lettuce and squash seeds in the ground; maybe even a few rutabagas, winter squash and potatoes that you can keep over winter in your cellar. And, believe it or not, it is easy to keep a few chickens for fresh eggs. You can feed them mostly from clippings and kitchen scraps. (If your local ordinances don't allow you to keep chickens, just pen then in and don't keep any roosters. No-one will know.) Once one tackles those simple things the realization begins to set in that there really isn't all that much mystery in raising much of your own food and you may want to start "moving up." For example, after my family started gardening and raising small animals, we decided to raise a few pigs. It was the best pork that ever crossed my lips! We can't stand the supermarket version of what they call "pork" now. There isn't even a resemblance.

We live in a time where we have grown overly dependent upon industry. We need to start learning these basic skills again so that we can begin to separate ourselves from the machine and become free.

Kevin Carson Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 1:24:00 PM CDT  

Re making bread in particular, Ralph Borsodi noted eighty years ago that the most efficient approach to flour would be to do away with the giant mills in Minneapolis and mill it from wheat berries at home using electric mills. And since his time, electric grain mills have become available at a smaller size suitable for the household, and an order of magnitude cheaper.

I do this myself with a used Vitamix blender. Just buy wheat berries in bulk at a food co-op, and you can grind your own fresh (and nutritionally optimal) whole wheat flour at a fraction of the price of grocery store flour. You can also do interesting things like soak the berries for a couple of days till they just start sprouting, spread them out and dry them, and then grind your own sprouted wheat flour (lower carb and much higher in nutrients). If you can find a handy source of dried corn, you can make corn meal or masa incomparably better than store-bought.

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