And how dependent are you on them?
These are a couple of questions you should ask yourself and try to answer honestly. Even if you don’t like the answer. If you ask yourself these questions and figure out which systems that you and your family are reliant upon, then you know where to start working if you would like to be less dependent on them and more dependent on yourself. In other words, be more self-sufficient and self-reliant.
So what systems are you dependent on? If you are like most of us, you are dependent on most, if not all, of them to one degree or another. That isn’t anything to worry about though. Not really. What is more important is how much you are dependent on them. For a list of The Systems, go back to What Are The Systems and take a look. Read through them and jot down which ones you rely on. It’s not a 100% complete list so if you can think of anymore, write those down too. And maybe comment on that post letting me know what I might have missed.
So now you have YOUR list of your systems. Now, I want you to look at each one individually and try to determine how much you are actually dependent on them. Say you’re starting with the food system, how much do you depend on going to the grocery store and/or restaurants to eat every day? Do you have a garden? Do you raise any livestock? Even a suburbanite can sometimes raise a small flock of backyard chickens without officials shutting them down. Do you go to farmer’s markets to get produce, meat, dairy, etc.? Do you have any extra food squirreled away somewhere in your house that is not necessarily a part of your everyday pantry?
The food system breakdown might look like this:
The Food System
- Gardening: 15%
- Farmer’s markets: 20%
- Chickens (meat & eggs): 10%
Total: 45% less dependent!
So you would be 55% dependent on the food system and, because of The Intertwining Systems, you’re also dependent on all the systems that prop up the food system: the distribution system, the energy system (oil for harvesting & transportation, electricity), labor, etc. But still, fifty-five percent dependence is pretty good, not because you’re still dependent, but because you are 45% less dependent than you would be if you didn’t do those things. If you like it at 55%, keep doing those things. If you want to be more free of these systems, kick it up a notch or two. It only takes a little bit more work and investment to be more self-sufficient and self-reliant because once you have your own systems set up, e.g., chicken feeding systems & runs, raised garden beds, irrigation, etc., it doesn’t take a lot to expand your operation.
If you really want to get technical, shopping at a farmer’s market is not really making you more self-reliant. But it does get you closer to the source of what you eat. There are less systems being relied upon when your food is grown or raised 4 miles from your house.
Self-Reliance and Self-Sufficiency
Here’s a side note: self-reliance and self-sufficiency are similar, though the terms are not interchangeable. Here’s the difference: self-reliance is usually measured in time and takes external inputs. If you have been copy-canning and building up your food stores to where you have 90 days’ worth of food, you are 90 days self-reliant at least in the food category. Once you run out, you have to go to the store for more food, that’s the external input factor.
Self-Sufficiency is usually measured in a percentage and requires no external inputs (at least in the long run). If you have a great big garden and you produce enough to substitute 30% of the veggies and fruit that your family eats in a year, you are 30% self-sufficient as far as your garden is concerned. Start adding all of these different percentages and timelines together and you’ll see where you stand. Above, I said you’d be 45% less dependent with the food system. That is self-sufficiency, BUT some of those points would require external inputs; the farmer’s market, livestock needing feed if you do not grow your own, etc. You get the picture though; it’s a combination of both, we don’t really need to get hung up on semantics.
So again, to see where you’re at with your quest to be more self-reliant and self-sufficient, do that little exercise. Honestly answer what systems you are dependent on, how much you are dependent on each one and then come up with a plan to lessen that dependence. I know I don’t want to rely on outside influences and inputs any more than I have to. The more I do, the less control I have over my own life, the less I can take of myself. But the less we rely on these systems, the more personal liberty we will have. And that’s really what it’s all about.
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Until next time,