Why is becoming more self-sufficient important?
The last few years has seen the planet entering into uncertain times. COVID-19 pandemic brought about multiple problems and it isn’t over yet. The cost of living is rising, some of us still don’t have work after being laid off from COVID and food shortages are in the forecast for the future. And lately there have been rising tensions between countries with rumours of war.
Being more self sufficient will give you something more when the situation gets worse. Having your own vegetables, fruits, herbs, eggs and more will give you something to eat when the outside world has little.
What is self-sufficiency?
Ultimately it means you can look after yourself without the help from outside sources. But that is more a long-term goal. In the mean time you can be building your resources, growing your own fruit, vegetables, nuts, herbs, eggs and more at home. By having this safety blanket, you are better off than someone who totally relies on the outside world for everything.
You may live in the city and not have an acre of land to do it all. But you can still have a couple of pot plants with tomatoes and herbs. Or be part of a local community garden group.
What problems arose from COVID-19?
Disasters rarely ever work alone. It may start with one disaster but then there’s a snowball effect making things complicated. The pandemic brought about multiple problems –
- Illness taking people out of work to recover
- Restricted business operations with business not open or having restrictions
- People losing their jobs as businesses closed
- Financial hardship due to lack of work
- Panic buying of toilet paper resulting in some people not having toilet paper.
- Panic buying of most groceries as people saw empty shelves bringing in rationing.
- Fruit and vegetable shortages as farmers had problems finding workers.
- Shops had to ration groceries and have special orders for the elderly and disabled.
- Travel was banned at a local, state, federal and international level affecting the tourist industry.
- People who were overseas travelling got stuck in the country they were in.
- Some countries with large populations and limited resources had major illness and death toll.
- Hospitals quickly became overwhelmed by people needed COVID treatment.
- Medical supplies and masks ran out.
- Countries that depended on foreign imports were not able to get supplies as other countries has lock downs and limited workforce.
- Socialising ground to a halt, no movies, pubs, clubs, handshakes, hugs, social distancing, farmers markets etc. which reduced the amount of income in the community.
- It brought out the worse in people with unreasonable panic buying, the sick refusing to isolate, people trying to get around quarantine restrictions and more.
And all this was from one little disaster. A disaster that could have been controlled earlier but wasn’t. Can’t totally blame the governments, we all have brains, some have just lost their user instructions.
Similar situations occur after other disasters. For example, there is a cyclone, roads are flooded and transport can’t get through. Shops start to run out of food. The power grid is down so the shops can’t open; most technology doesn’t work so you are left with what is in your cupboard.
Why is self-sufficiency important during disasters?
If you are prepared by having a fully stocked emergency kit and growing some of your own food you will be better off than someone who doesn’t. Standard emergency kit advice is it should last 3-7 days.
But what happens when the disaster goes longer than that? In more localised disasters the emergency services, local councils and governments should have their emergency plans up and running by the end of 3-7 days depending on where you live. Notice I said ‘localised disasters’, during these disasters resources and man power can be brought in from other areas to help with responding to the disaster.
In very large disasters, multiple disasters or global problems the resources are either not there or dry up quickly. For example, if there is severe flooding from a category 3 cyclone in the tropics at the same time as wild fires in the drier south there is less man power to go around. Roads may be cut resulting in food and transport not getting through. Every year shops run out of food after a cyclone or floods.
Growing your own food makes it easier for you during food shortages. You just walk out the back door and collect your herbs and vegetables. And if you have chickens there’s fresh eggs too. With eggs and vegetables, you can make breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Sure, you may not be following your diet for a while but survival is living with what you have.
If you have the land, you could have a good self-sufficient set up like a market garden. With the excess being sold or given to family and friends when others don’t have food.
Will you survive without?
Self-sufficiency covers more than just food. Are you able to survive for a week or two without –
Electricity, for lights and refrigeration. In Australia there is Earth Hour where you turn off ‘non-essential lights’ for one hour a year. Everyone is into challenges on the internet (example, ice bucket). Well, here’s one, Turn off the power (at the switch board) to your home for the night. This would imitate a big storm taking down the power grid for a while.
You will have to do some planning for it (a luxury you don’t have as a disaster hits). How are you going to keep your meat, and dairy cold? What are you going to do for the night without electricity? And don’t cheat by going to a take away, movie theatre or camping in a motel.
People in cities will have a harder time with this challenge than those in more regional or remote areas. More remote areas, smaller towns and regions outside capital cities have a more unreliable utilities service. And those who are off grid, have to deal with the generator dying, bore stopped pumping, dams drying up and more on a regular basis.
And then there’s the things electricity provides you wouldn’t think about such as water treatment, water pumping, sewerage treatment, traffic lights, electronic banking, mobile phone servers, internet servers, shop check out registers, EFTPOS machines, petrol pumps, security systems, fans and air conditioners at home and in the shops.
Tap water – as already discuss you need electricity in city to have drinkable tap water. So, what will you do when you don’t have drinkable water on tap? This is when you notice bottle water vanishes quickly off the supermarket shelves usually before as the shops aren’t open afterwards. But think about everything you use water for, bathing, clothes washing, dish washing, cleaning, cooking, plant and pet needs.
If you get warning before the disaster you can fill up some extra bottles or the bath tub but this only applies to certain disasters. To be more self-sufficient you could have rain water tanks, extra bottle water in the pantry. Don’t forget to use this water and replace it regularly so it doesn’t go off.
Communications such as mobile phone, internet, social media and more. Some services have back up batteries and generators but they don’t always work. And if everyone is panicking and trying to contact everyone else the batteries drain quickly. The communications system may not be at full strength and should be left for those trying to ring emergency services with life endangering emergencies. How would you feel trying to ring for an ambulance and you couldn’t get a signal?
Shops not being open. Could you live for a week with what you have in your home? For a good percentage of you I would say not. There’s your emergency kit but you should have extra supplies on the shelf. It doesn’t have to be an emergency, how many times have you been in the shower and discovered someone else has used the last of the soap and not told you.
It’s 4am and you are getting up for work and there’s not spare milk or coffee. When you are shopping and something you consume is on special get a couple more for later. This will save you money over time as you won’t need to buy the same thing when it is dearer. Non-perishables that last a fair while can be stored up in the pantry. Then when a disaster does happen you will have something to eat and drink, sure it might mean bake beans for dinner but that is better than starving.
Medical help, such as drugs, first aid supplies, doctors or hospitals from outside sources. You are in a severe storm and a window breaks cutting your arm (not life threatening at first). The roads are cut by fallen trees so driving or ambulances are out. It’s too windy for a medical helicopter (who wouldn’t come to this injury anyway) so it’s all up to you. What are you going to do? Do you have a first aid kit, basic pain killers, basic medical supplies (antiseptic) to treat the wound yourself until you can get medical help in the future?
As part of your emergency kit, you should have some of your regular medications. If the quantity of medications is getting low make up a script while you still can. Leaving it till the last minute and running out just as the disaster hits could be life threatening.
Look back over the last couple of years. How has COVID affected your life? It’s not over yet and will probably get worse before it gets better. What if another disaster or world war was to happen tomorrow; would you be able to look after yourself without outside help?
Get a pen and paper and work on a disaster plan. What could go wrong and what you are going to do to improve your chances when it happens? If you don’t have any land to grow your own food, pair up with a neighbour, friend or outside family and grow food for them and yourself.
It all seems too overwhelming. Take baby steps, plant some vegetables this week and some each week after. When you are shopping start buying more of the specials (non-perishable type). Get your emergency kit fully stocked. Discuss the plan with your family (internal and external) so everyone is on the same page.
To get your free emergency kit checklist click here.