Self-Sufficiency 101: Get To Know Your Local Economy


With the renewed interest in self-sufficiency and learning new skills, we are constantly looking for new ways to live a simpler life. You want to become more independent and learn to produce your goods and food. Those are noble things to do and learn! 

In the course of learning new things and picking up new skills, you may need to purchase items that you cannot make yourself. You may not have the knowledge yet to make the thing you need or you need that item to finish your project. 

You may live in an area where you can grow a lot of food and have wonderful gardens, but you are restricted from having chickens, rabbits, or other livestock to produce your meat. You want to supplement what you are growing and producing, but feel resigned to going to the grocery store to get the rest of your groceries. 

While one of the biggest tenets in self-sufficiency to produce and grow your own food, you also need to realize that you may not be able to produce it all. Some people are willing to drastically change their diets to do so or are willing to experiment with different foods to produce what they love to eat. However, most people are not willing to drastically change their diets or are not confident enough to experiment with other foods. 

Going to the grocery store or ordering online almost feels like defeat sometimes. You want so badly to be self-sufficient and only purchase what you have to purchase from your local grocery store. You know there is someone out there who probably has what you need, but you don't know who.

You can turn this around by getting to know and supporting your local economy. With the rise of farmers' markets, the internet, and social media, this has become easier than ever. You can just do a web search for local businesses. You can ask your friends and family online. You can go to your local farmers' markets, purchase produce and other items, and ask where you can purchase more. 

You might be surprised to find out your neighbor sells eggs, homemade jams, and will knit just about anything. You might find out your co-worker sells meat they butchered from their own freezers. You will find out that your elderly neighbor knows how to sew and will teach you anything you want to know in exchange for some produce and a cup of tea. 

You may also find out that you may not need to purchase anything at all. Your friend may have the item you are looking for and is willing to lend it out to you. Your uncle may be cleaning out his shed and has a tiller that you can have for free. Your cousin may be willing to trade you some home canned goods in exchange for some of your tomatoes. The list goes on, but your local economy and your connections will be there for you when you need them. 

Your food and other things you purchase locally may cost more money or some time/labor, but that is money (time and labor) supporting your local economy and local families as opposed to a big corporate machine. Rarely do big corporations such as Amazon invest in your local economies. However, buying meat from your local farmer will help him buy the next lot of cattle to raise more meat to sell locally again. You may be helping to pay college tuition, monthly bills, and more by supporting your local economy. 

We have a tendency to overlook where our things come from. We don't always think twice about ordering online because it's easier and the item could be here in two days or less. We think driving an hour for something is too much of a bother, but in reality, we waste more time than that in a day on our phones and online. And if you think about how much goes into getting a package shipped to you, you would be appalled at the waste of materials, time, and labor just to get an item to you. 

Even if you shop at a major grocery chain or a big box store, you are still supporting the local economy in some manner. They employ people from the community which helps keep people in the area. Their earned money also contributes to the local economy. Some times those major chain stores do help the local community with donations and aid when natural disasters happen or times are bad. 

However, when you shop online from major retailers and corporations, that money is gone. It really doesn't help many people, but it lines their pockets more and gives them bigger bonuses while starving their workers. You can keep your money somewhat local by consciously purchasing from small online businesses, small sellers on resale sites, or self-employed individuals. Many authors have made the move to selling independently online to cut out the middle man and keep more of the money in their pocket. Many people sell on sites like Etsy and eBay to make more money for their items while only paying a small fee to those sites. You are directly supporting people and families instead of a corporation.

Be conscientious about where your money goes and who your hard-earned money is supporting. Being self-sufficient is a choice. Producing what you can and doing what you can for yourself is a choice. Choosing where your money goes and who your money supports is a choice. For the sake of your local economy and in the interest of keeping more people self-sufficient, choose your local economy and small online businesses.

Thanks for reading (and your support),
Erica


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