This is my first article on Self Sufficient Me (SSM) so let me begin by extending a warm welcome and sincere thanks to you for visiting SSM and I hope this will be the start of many returns by you as we explore the realms of self sufficiency.
I have been interested in self sufficiency since I was a boy it's just that back then I didn't know it. When I was a child, my Grandfather and I would embark on the odd fishing trip throughout the year and like most children going fishing and the sheer expectation of catching a fish was almost as good as the actual catch. But from an early age I realised my excitement of catching the fish was second to the eating of it and the real reason for going fishing in the first place.
The emotional benefits (like excitement or bonding) when fishing with my Grandfather and the adventure of camping beside the river bank etc are all great; however, the happiness of returning home to proudly share our bounty with the rest of the family was (for me) as good as, if not better than, any other moment of the activity.
I never really contemplated why I felt this way until many years later after getting some life experience under my belt and having the time to ponder life more instead of constantly driving to achieve the next career milestone.
See, I believe we are all genetically encoded to be a hunter/gatherer and the sole purpose for this is/was survival. Survival of us individually and as a human species so we may continue our place as part of this magnificent planet. So some of my first experiences of hunter/gathering were fishing with my Grandfather where others may have been vegetable gardening with their parents or raising poultry on their farm as examples.
I now understand my feelings of happiness when my Grandfather and I would bring home a modest fishing haul to share with the family as an inbuilt desire to help feed my kind and thus help their survival in-turn keeping the human race going. Of course, I'm explaining this in a metaphoric way as no doubt the rest of my family weren’t totally reliant on my fishing trip for food, and, their survival or not isn't linked to humanity but you get the gist. Also, my Grandfather helped influence my interest in sustainability and I'll always remember his insistence on only taking what you need and throwing the 'littlies' back.
Now this may not be what most people expected my opening blog to be about but I wanted to illustrate the point that although people hunt and gather for necessity and recreational reasons (fishing for instance) the origin for this human behaviour was for survival purposes.
As the human race around the world developed over the past few thousand years, so have our hunter/gatherer skills to the point where few people can now provide for many (through farming, agriculture and manufacturing). And whilst this new age has many benefits, greedy, opportunistic, ignorant humans have also quickly pushed the worlds resources to breaking point all for personal gain and extraordinary wealth of a minority.
We as a global society are no longer all hunters and gatherers and small benefiters of minimal trade with others but instead we're demander’s, exploiters, mega consumers and in danger of becoming totally dependant on large corporations to feed, entertain and shelter us. When I say danger I mean it – the problem with anyone (or anything) being totally dependant on something is all the eggs in one basket syndrome, which basically means if there isn't an alternative all power and control are in the hands of the elite.
That might be good for business, however, it isn't good for consumers or the planet. We as a global community are slowly losing our self sufficiency and this leaves us vulnerable to exploitation from major retail chains reducing our wealth, weakening our political voice and controlling our product choice.
Nevertheless, it's not all doom and gloom and there are signs people are waking-up to the inevitability that our world can't sustain the current mismanagement of its resources. We need to wake the hunter/gatherer within us all and start supplementing and substituting our needs by using and developing our own renewable resources.
We need to reduce our dependency on wasteful corporate giants that eat up large resources for short-term big profits. By becoming more select and/or growing our own produce and /or developing our own self sufficient products in direct competition to these corporations we will make a difference, we will reduce the cost of living, we will reduce waste and save energy, we will live healthier lifestyles, and we will reverse the damage to our planets dwindling resources.
The smarter we live and the more self sufficient we become individually, the better chance the other inhabitants of the earth have to live also. We share this planet with such wondrous plants and animals on which we depend on for either our own survival or mental well being; so, to bulldoze our way as the dominant species on the planet at the expense of everything else would be at our own demise.
Therefore, it is time for us all to make our individual stand to protect or improve our own standards of living and immediate environments so collectively we can make an influence on the whole world. Acting individually doesn’t necessarily mean acting alone and that's where places like SSM can help. We don't all individually have all the answers to becoming more self sufficient but each of us do have answers, ideas, and experiences about self sufficiency, which when shared can make a valuable contribution to our own and our Earth's health and well being.
So, whether you're into sustainable fishing, farming, energy, backyard produce, or any of the many self sufficient disciplines, I encourage you to join SSM and enjoy sharing your information and achievements no matter how small you think they might seem because as you and I learn from others and others learn from us, together we can influence the regeneration and sustainability of the world in which we live, love and share.
Grandfather died in November 2010 in the picture above he was 90 years old. A veteran of WW2 and a practising self sufficient member who grew his own vegetables and made his own preserves into his 90's – lest we forget.
Would you like to share your self sufficient experiences? Why not join our forum and interact online, I'd love to see you there.
Thanks for reading and your support.
Look, and see the Earth through her eyes
Mark Valencia – Editor Self Sufficient Me
*This article was revised Sept 2012