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February 2018
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Self-Sufficiency is a Myth – Or is it?


I like to look at my blog and podcast stats.  In fact I’ve been told that I obsess over them a bit.  That may be true but it does help me understand things.  I can determine which podcast subjects people like (and which they don’t).  I can also see what search terms are coming up and I can react appropriately. 

Sometimes I see a search term that makes me do a double take.  Some are just plan odd and I wonder how they even point to my site.  An example of this is: “Aphid Sucking Mouth Parts”.  But sometimes I find one that actually applies and how they got to this site is easily explainable but the term is directly converse to something I teach (or attempt to at least).

Among this week’s search terms was “Self Sufficient is a Myth”.  I wonder if they found my site and changed their mind.  Probably not, I haven’t done a very good job illustrating this.  Thus today’s post.

I’ve spoken about the reasons to garden and I won’t rehash them here. I’ve touched a bit on how much money you can save by growing your own food.  I wanted to spit out some hard facts and data about food production.

 Let’s start with this (and I use my own family as an example):

Calorie requirements per person per day.

Jason =3000


Jackson=1500 (estimated)

Total requirement=7200

So now what percentages of the calorie needs must be met by each individual macronutrient.  The USDA (FWIW) says: 

 18% protein, 29% fat, 53% carbohydrates

Break that down further.  So of our 7200 calories we need 1296 calories of protein, 2088 of fat and 3816 of carbs.  Or in grams:  324P, 232F and 954C per day. 

Per year? – 2,628,000 Cal, 473, 040P, 762,120F, 1,392,840C (Pounds (converted from grams)=260P, 186F, 766C)


Now let’s say I plant one pear tree.  That pear tree has a decent year (plant more diversity to ensure this!) and I get 300 pounds of pears (not unreasonable at all). 

The nutritive value of a pear at 166 grams or 0.3652 pounds is 26C and 1P.  Extrapolated out to 300 pounds of pears we get about 285 pounds of Carbs and about 15 pounds of protein.  Essentially satisfying 37% of your carbohydrate requirements and 4% of your protein requirements.  That’s not just me but for my entire family!  Three more pear trees and I can get 100% easily of the carbohydrate requirements. 

Now this system isn’t perfect.  It assumes good harvests and that you’ll never get tired of pears.  But I assume that you’ll practice diversity! 

In addition, fat and protein are harder to get with vegetable sources but it can be done.  Grow beans and asparagus for protein and nuts for fats.  There are, of course, trace amounts of each in most fruits and vegetables.  And I mean come on, who can’t cast a line or shoot a shotgun?  But I’ll save that for another day.

The point is that you can provide enough food to be self-sufficient and no ITS NOT A MYTH!

5 comments to Self-Sufficiency is a Myth – Or is it?

  • I’m also hooked on stats from my blog.  It is just amazing what people will search on.

    I view self sufficiency as a goal that I strive to reach.  Every year my garden produces a little more.  Every year, I am able to process just a bit more.  This year I was able to can all the green beans I need for the next year, I only grew about 75% of them.  So I’m not at 100% self sufficiency on green beans, but I’m getting close.

    I will never be 100% self sufficient.  I’m not going to fool myself about that.  But I can be just a little more self sufficient than I was just last year.

  • Jason

    That’s pretty much the way I view it.  I find it counterproductive when people discourage others with the statement that its a myth.  Its pretty much something to aspire to even if never achieved.

  • Anonymous

    You and I can plant a pear tree and grow vegetables and nuts for ourselves very easily. But how much impact does that have compared to all the people living in concrete towers who can’t even if they wanted to?

  • Jason

    Well we choose to cede some of our food growing responsibility to trade our labor for money and other things.  The people in concrete towers have ceded it all.  That way of living is not for me.

    But what impact does us growing our food have on them?  I could pull the Ayn Rand objectivist argument and say I worry about me and my family but the truth is that I worry about those people too (albeit less).  They can cede their responsibility and hope they can trade their labor for food.  By us putting less demand on the system we are making their food cheaper.  Or they can grow a rooftop garden or herbs in a window.  Or they can find a community garden and get a plot.


  • Anonymous

    arrghhh…don’t pull out Ayn Rand! I expect better from you than that! None of us can possibly worry about millions of urban dwellers we don’t know personally. I worry about the impact of their decisions on the options that are left to all of us as a result.

    Is cheaper food a good thing? I don’t think it means people will share. We used to spend a lot more for our food as a percentage of income and care about more relative to its cost.

    Sorry I’m rambling and getting off topic from your post. sure sign its time for bed.

    I like what you are doing by the way.