Homesteaders Food Challenge: Eat Your Yard

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I am Candi. Also known as creator of “The Homesteaders Food Challenge.”

The Mission: For 101 days I will only eat food that I raised, grew, gathered, killed, picked, trapped or otherwise obtained around here by my own hands.

The Timeline: 101 days

The Location: The rolling hills of Kentucky where it’s hot, humid and lush.

Disclaimer: My intentions are not to make anyone feel guilty or like a failure because they are purchasing food from a grocery. I love groceries. I understand that this challenge is not possible for most. Not everyone has the ability to grow and raise their own food. My heart is not to hurt or ostracize anyone. My purpose in this exercise in eating the foods from my own hands is to teach, encourage and excite those who are interested in growing their own food. This is as personal as it gets for me. I really want to see if I can grow everything that I eat.

Here’s the challenge:

This comes from a verse in the Bible. Psalm 128:2 “When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, You will be happy and it will be well with you.” (NASB)

Growing, processing, preserving and cooking my own food is nothing new to my blog. I’ve been at this game for years. BUT … I still eat some things I don’t grow. Things like:

Avocados (be still my heart)
Lemons and limes
Tortilla chips
Supplemental fruits and veggies (when our garden is not in full production)
Cane juice crystals
Assorted baking supplies and spices (baking powder, vanilla, cocoa, dried spices, etc.)
Raw cheeses (flavors I don’t make — like shaved parmesan and Beemsters)
Hummus and beans
Coconut and olive oil
Organic rice and pasta
Nutella (Yes, I like eating pure joy)

I am going to forgo all of these wonderful things in order to eat only the products from my own hands for 101 days.

The Rules:

My Rules: All food consumed must be raised, grown, gathered, killed, picked, trapped or otherwise obtained around here by my own hands.

“Plan B”: If you don’t have a garden, a cow, or a freezer full of lard, you can still play if you want! Feel free to make this your own. You can eat local, eat seasonal, or just eat real. If you live somewhere in America, you can probably find a farmers’ market or a CSA with some local food options. Many also sell meat and dairy in addition to fruits and veggies.

What I will be eating for the next 101 days:

• Anything I grow (garden, herbs, fruit, veggies, roots)
• Anything I raise (pigs, chickens, beef, rabbit, etc)
• Anything I pick from it’s natural plant/tree around here (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, apple, peach, etc)
• Anything I collect from it’s natural habitat around here (walnuts, hickory nuts, any wild edibles)
• Anything I (insert DH) hunted and shot (rabbit, deer, turkey)
• Anything I (most likely DH again) trapped, caught, jigged (crawdads, frogs, fish)
• Anything I find in our world of woods and land deemed edible (wild berries, wild mushrooms, wild onions)
• Anything that comes from my cows (milk, butter, cream, cheese, all raw dairy)
• Eggs from our chickens and ducks

Just to clarify, I will be eating foods I grew and preserved in the past year (froze, canned, dried, etc), or food that was raised/hunted here and is currently in the freezer.

This whole eating plan may sound like a form of punishment, but I’m excited to give this whole “clean, real, homegrown, eat your yard” thing a run for its money. I have been thinking this whole experiment through and have decided on a few exceptions to the “From Your Own Hands” rule.

In order to survive the 101 days and still be a sane person who will not eat her 4 children I have incorporated a couple considerations. Don’t worry, I’m only proposing 5 exceptions.

The Exceptions:

• Coffee (I’m pretty sure you don’t want me to die)
• Wheat berries and yeast (to make rolls, bread, buns, etc.)
• Organic maple syrup (I do make my own, but I’m out)
• Wine (priorities people)
• Raw apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper will also be allowed during the 101 days – The kids and I have decided that salt and pepper are not really “foods” but more minerals and no one wants us to become deficient in sodium, right?

The only other possible monkey wrench to my success in this experiment is going to be the limited occasions we eat away from home. We eat out most Saturday nights (sometimes at friends’ homes, sometimes at restaurants). I have been considering how to handle this quandary. I think in order to stay true to this endeavor and happily married to DH I’ll concede to his Saturday night out ritual but just eat before we go out or take a “sack” dinner with me.

I considered eating at the restaurants (or friends’ homes) and just limiting myself to only eating foods (from the selection) that we grow (or raise) at our farm. My younger brother said I was cheating and anyone could do that. Phooey to him. He said if I ate out once a week I wasn’t eating my own food for 101 days. Then he said, “If you’re gonna do it — do it right. No restaurants, no friends’ food.”

Of course he kept talking, because he’s my brother.

Then he said: If you eat other food besides the food you raised, I’m not buying the book.

I said: I’m not writing a book.

He said: It doesn’t matter because I won’t buy it.

Me: [Forehead slap]

So, since my brother called me a cheater, I’m going to be scooting around the nearest 4 counties with a cooler and a bagged dinner in the back of my minivan.

In case you are wondering if I am dispensing this curse upon my entire family — no, not technically. My 2 oldest children think it sounds fun and are voluntarily doing it with me. My 2 youngest will probably not survive in a world without pasta, rice and carbs, so they’ll be blowing the plan daily. Even though I’ll be adding organic carbs to their plates, they’ll still be eating from our “hands” for the most part. DH will eat whatever I feed him, so if he’s eating with me he’ll be eating mashed turnips.

Is this gonna be hard? Yes. Am I gonna starve? Maybe.

I’m up for the challenge. The garden is in full swing. The freezers are stocked with meat. Let’s do this thing!


“It’s ON like Donkey Kong”

Follow along to see what I’m eating, how it’s going and if I’m dead on Instagram: homesteadersfoodchallenge

I will also be sharing all my foodie thoughts and adventures for the next 101 days on twitter: thefarmbarbie

To join all the cool people following my blog: by email (here), on Facebook (here) and via Twitter (here).

— Candi