Many people dream of homesteading so that they can produce everything they need to eat right on their own property.
The visions of homesteading that come to mind are Instagrammable – petting your adorable goats, harvesting giant carrots from luxuriously rich soil, going on an Easter egg hunt each day to collect from the chickens, wearing your cute beekeeping suit while the bees practically hand pounds of honey over to you, and so on. Maybe your imagination goes even further with going completely off the grid. We imagine it to be a quiet, simple life without all the hustle and bustle of modern life.
What is Homesteading?
Homesteading is turning your home and yard into a productive system in which you produce all or some of your own food, energy, clothing, and/or other goods. Typically the difference between the casual gardener and a homesteader is blurry, but “homesteading” usually implies that you rely on at least some aspect of your home and yard to significantly reduce your reliance on purchasing goods outside the home. At the same time, it’s not quite the same as a commercial farm because you typically wouldn’t hire outside help or generate most of your income from what you produce. While farmers often eat what they grow, many focus on one or two crops.
Some examples of homesteading activities include:
- Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and/or bulk goods
- Preserving produce through canning, fermentation, dehydration, etc.
- Raising chickens, goats, a couple cows, etc.
- Maple syrup tapping
- Making and mending your own clothes
- Raising honeybees
- Chopping firewood and heating your house with a wood furnace
- Setting up solar panels to generate your own electricity
- Baking sourdough bread and other baked goods
- Milking cows and churning butter
The Merits of Homesteading
Homemade is better. Period. When our foods started coming to us prepackaged, oversalted, hydrogenated, freeze-dried, powdered, and full of preservatives, we started sacrificing flavor, texture, and nutritional value for convenience. These foods were invented to increase shelf life, originally so that soldiers could access food while at battle, far away from kitchens. From that perspective, processed foods definitely have their place. However, their invention led to an industrialization of food because corporate food producers realized they’re cheap to produce and store compared to fresh produce and meats.
On that note, when you grow your own food and then prepare it, you know exactly what is contained in your food as well as how it was grown. You can choose to avoid glyphosate, sodium nitrite, BPAs, and so on (for the most part – unfortunately many chemicals are found in our environment even though they weren’t intentionally put there). When you grow your own food, you decrease your reliance on fossil fuels which also benefits the environment.
A Relationship with Nature
Touching grass makes us happier. Connecting with nature and lots of movement are pillars in the lives of people who live in the Blue Zones, which are the areas of the world with the highest percentage of centenarians. Tending to gardens, taking care of animals, and simply walking in nature take up a lot of time in the Blue Zones, as opposed to our culture where we sit staring at screens for most of the day and perhaps hit the gym for some cardio for 30 minutes to an hour. Don’t get us wrong – if 15 minutes on the treadmill is all you can muster, it’s a lot better than nothing!
The lessons we learn from nurturing plants and animals are invaluable. They’re a great way to set your kids up for a happy, healthy lifestyle and same goes for us when we’re adults. You learn the benefits of investing in your future, responsibility, hard work, physical coordination, and so much more. Real life becomes more interesting than phones and TV. This is why so many people want to give this life to their children and themselves.
The Realities that Get in the Way
For all the “fun” chores on a homestead, there are endless not-so-fun ones. Trimming goat hooves. Weeding the garden. Cleaning up the mess after the chickens. Watching the canning pot boil. Harvesting the cow your kids (and you) have taken a liking to.
It turns out there’s a reason why our society has chosen to move away from subsistence farming (for the most part)! It’s a lot of work and sacrifice. While their peers get to kick back at the end of the day with a glass of wine, homesteaders are bailing hay, bringing the cows in, scrubbing potatoes for the night’s meal, or canning tomatoes. This may seem like a good tradeoff to some, but most of us would enjoy the occasional vacation, meal at a restaurant, and holidays celebrating with our family. You can pretty much forget having an outside job, too.
With that time investment also comes a high upfront cost. Land isn’t cheap, and you either need to find a spot that comes with a house, barn, garden plot, tools and equipment, animals, seed, and various other things – or you need to buy it. Unfortunately none of these things are cheap except in lucky circumstances. There is some disagreement about how much land one actually needs to sustain a family, and it all depends on what type of diet you follow. But the average tends to be at least 5 acres of productive land per person.
Homesteading: Just a Dream for Most People
Realistically, most successful homesteaders started with a well-paying job that allowed them to purchase the land, house, barns, etc., and then moved away from that career very gradually. There are ways to make an income within your homestead (i.e. blogging, selling value-added products, teaching classes, etc.), but another more realistic option is for the homesteader to be married to someone with a more conventional job.
Self-reliance is an admirable goal for many reasons, although there is merit to community and interdependence as well. Choosing to support small businesses like Brodo is mutually beneficial – you get high quality, delicious, nutritious broth, as well as save time in the kitchen. We get to focus on doing what we love while providing a living to ourselves,our staff, and our farmers.
A Healthy Compromise
One extreme is to go completely off-grid, growing all your own food, making your own fabric and clothing, and basically living as our ancestors did. This can cut you off from the good things about society such as spending time with friends, traveling, affording the occasional luxury, and so on. The other extreme is working long hours at a career that leaves you overworked and underpaid, buying every single thing already made for you.
Fortunately there’s a compromise! If we learn to live with buying less “stuff,” we can enjoy the benefits of homesteading (we’re using the term lightly here) and modern society. It can look very different for everyone, and some people are able to spend more time in nature or in the garden than others. But if you cook up a nice big pot of soup (preferably with Brodo broth) and share it with your neighbor, they’re likely to share something with you in return. Maybe you don’t love making jam but that’s their favorite kitchen project.
Even if you have no land whatsoever, there are plenty of things that can give you that great feeling of doing something yourself and caring for another living being. You can set up a simple herb garden right in your kitchen. Or sign up for a community garden. Or, you can access the same high-quality meats and vegetables you’d grow yourself by visiting your local farmers’ market. That way, you’re benefiting yourself, your local economy, and the environment. Take it a step further by “farming” microbes by tossing some of those farmers’ market vegetables in a salt brine and “raising” microbes! Or simply buy a plant to take care of. Yes, even this is connecting with nature if that is your intention.
So how does Brodo fit into all of this?
Brodo works with small scale farmers who raise their animals ethically and sustainably to make the best bone broth possible with simple, natural ingredients using traditional methods. It allows you to turn whatever vegetables you have in your fridge into a simple, delicious, and healthy meal in minutes. Even though it’s not homemade by you, it’s the exact same flavor and quality you could make in your own home. It’s “homemade” by an award-winning chef.
Still, if you’re thinking, “Why don’t I just make this stuff at home?” You really can if you’d like to! We’re not selling a magic potion here, folks. We’ve even shown you how to make it in our blog. However, if you let us take care of this tedious process for you, it leaves you with more time to turn it into a delicious soup, spend time with your family, tend to your garden, do your DIY projects, or even take a load off and relax.
With that, we invite you to “eat like a homesteader” without the need to grow the vegetables, raise the animals, butcher the animals, clean and chop up the vegetables, roast everything, and slow cook it all for 48 hours!
For more healthy recipes, visit the Brodo blog. Tried one of these at home? Tag us on instagram and let us know how it went!