Ul­ti­mate Provider

5 WAYS TO OB­TAIN FOOD WITH­OUT GRO­CERY SHOP­PING

Modern Pioneer - - Contents - By Dana Ben­ner

5 ways to ob­tain food with­out gro­cery shop­ping

Learn­ing to live on what Mother Na­ture pro­vides is one of the most im­por­tant self-sus­tain­ing lessons one can learn. I’m not talk­ing about eat­ing a “wild,” gath­ered meal here and there be­tween boxed din­ners. No, I’m talk­ing about truly sus­tain­ing your fam­ily on es­sen­tially a full-time ba­sis by hunt­ing, fish­ing, for­ag­ing and gardening.

If you’re will­ing to work hard, you can ob­tain most of your own food with­out mak­ing con­tin­ual trips to the gro­cery store. Prac­tice the fol­low­ing steps, and you’ll be­come the ul­ti­mate provider.

1 HUNT­ING

New Hamp­shire win­ters are of­ten long and cold. Some­times we even get snowed in. I must put away as much meat as I can, when I can. Hunt­ing can be ex­pen­sive—fuel, am­mu­ni­tion and hunt­ing li­censes/per­mits— so I also must make the most of my money. If you’re truly look­ing to eat solely wild game meat, look to bag as much game as you can for as lit­tle money as pos­si­ble.

I hunt mainly in New Hamp­shire and Ver­mont and ob­tain an­nual li­censes for both. I also pur­chase my fed­eral wa­ter­fowl per­mit and per­mits re­quired for New Hamp­shire and Ver­mont. This is money well spent, be­cause odds are that I’ll har­vest ducks and geese in both states.

I also pur­chase turkey per­mits for both states. Ver­mont al­lows two tur­keys in spring and one in fall; New Hamp­shire al­lows one in spring and one in fall. If ev­ery­thing aligns, I can put five tur­keys in the freezer along­side the wa­ter­fowl, small game and up­land birds I har­vest.

Large game, such as deer and bear, are al­ways de­sir­able, but re­quire much more work. But, one deer, along with the

afore­men­tioned game, will feed my fam­ily through win­ter. A bear would be an added bonus. Per­haps you have even larger game an­i­mals, such as elk and/or moose, to tar­get where you live. One of ei­ther species will pro­duce hun­dreds of pounds of meat.

2 FISH­ING

As soon as the ice breaks in spring and the wa­ter opens, I go fish­ing. Just like hunt­ing, I fish for food. That means I keep all le­gal fish I catch (abid­ing by lim­its, of course). Fish­ing li­censes are gen­er­ally cheaper than hunt­ing li­censes, so if you don’t hunt, fish­ing is the best way to put pro­tein on the ta­ble and in the freezer. I pur­chase fresh­wa­ter­fish­ing li­censes in both Ver­mont and New Hamp­shire, as well as a salt­wa­ter-fish­ing li­cense for New Hamp­shire. The salt­wa­ter li­cense al­lows me to fish the New Hamp­shire coast and the coastal wa­ters of Maine and Mas­sachusetts.

It’s easy to over­spend on fish­ing equip­ment, so I’ve learned to sim­plify. Heck, some days I can catch fish just us­ing a ba­sic rod equipped with hook and worm. On other days, it may take spoons or in-line spin­ners to land a catch. These lures are sim­ple, and they work for both fresh­wa­ter and salt­wa­ter species. Un­less you’re a tour­na­ment an­gler af­ter a record bass or wall­eye (I’m not) you don’t need to spend a lot on gear. Keep costs down and use what works. Re­mem­ber, the goal is to put food in the freezer.

“… if you’re will­ing to work hard, you can ob­tain most of your own food with­out mak­ing con­tin­ual trips to the gro­cery store.”

3 FOR­AG­ING

Very rarely do I leave the woods and fields with­out bring­ing some­thing home with me. Like those who came be­fore me, I seize ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to gather food. While hunt­ing spring tur­keys, I of­ten find fid­dle­heads and other avail­able wild food. Fid­dle­heads are the young shoots of ferns (carry an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion guide) and are great as a side dish. As the warm weather pro­gresses, I of­ten come home with assorted wild berries, which I find while hik­ing into my fa­vorite Ver­mont trout stream or beaver pond.

In fall, I har­vest wild ap­ples and grapes, which are great for sauces, jams and jel­lies. I also har­vest acorns, wal­nuts and beech­nuts. Ev­ery­thing gath­ered be­comes part of our food sup­ply. I al­ways carry large, re­seal­able bags in my pack so I can bring this bounty home.

If you lo­cate a large berry patch while out hunt­ing or fish­ing, go back with your fam­ily to in­volve them in your food-gath­er­ing ef­forts. Al­ways carry a sidearm (if le­gal), be­cause bears eat berries, too. In Ver­mont, New Hamp­shire and many other states, there are plenty of public lands where you can har­vest wild foods free of charge.

4 GARDENING

As soon as the weather warms up, I pre­pare my gar­den. A gar­den can be as large or small as you like. You don’t even need land to start one. Ur­ban­ites eas­ily grow their own food in con­tain­ers. Many ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties even have large com­mu­nity gar­dens where you can get space to grow your own food. There are also nu­mer­ous co-ops where you can ex­change la­bor for fresh pro­duce.

The key to gardening is to grow veg­eta­bles that do well in your area, have large yields and store well, and your fam­ily will eat. Re­fer to the plant­ing in­for­ma­tion on the back of seed pack­ets prior to pur­chas­ing them.

I stick to beans, squash, toma­toes and po­ta­toes. These pro­duce food my fam­ily eats,

“If you lo­cate a large berry patch while out hunt­ing ... go back with your fam­ily to in­volve them in your food-gath­er­ing ef­forts.”

plus they store well. Toma­toes can be eaten as is, or they can be pro­cessed and then stored in the freezer for later use. Beans al­ways pro­duce high yields, and dried beans store for a very long time. Squash and pump­kins can be dried or cooked and then frozen. Po­ta­toes are a sta­ple, and they too can be stored for a long time (see side­bar, “Food Stor­age” on the right).

5 BAR­TER­ING

Bar­ter­ing is per­haps one of the old­est meth­ods to ob­tain things you need. Ba­si­cally, it’s trad­ing an item or your ser­vices for some­thing else. Over the years, I’ve worked on a lob­ster boat, trad­ing my ser­vices in ex­change for a por­tion of the catch. I have ex­changed la­bor with a lo­cal farmer for eggs and a few butchered chick­ens. I have traded salmon fil­lets for veni­son steaks. I’ve even traded berry pies for am­mu­ni­tion, which I then traded for fish­ing time on a boat, se­cur­ing fish for the freezer. The trick to bar­ter­ing is not to sell your­self short. Make fair deals/ex­changes.

Are You a Provider?

Liv­ing this life­style re­quires work, and it isn’t for ev­ery­one. If you’re will­ing to in­vest the time and ef­fort, it can be re­ward­ing. Plus, you get the sat­is­fac­tion of know­ing how and where your food was ob­tained. That’s an as­pect gro­cery stores don’t of­fer.

PHO­TOS BY DANA BEN­NER

(above ) When hunt­ing for food, pause pe­ri­od­i­cally. You’ll of­ten spot game you’d oth­er­wise spook or walk right past. (be­low) When hunt­ing, be pre­pared for some­thing to hap­pen quickly. You may not get an­other op­por­tu­nity.

A chance fish­ing trip to Louisiana pro­vided the op­por­tu­nity to land this red drum. PHOTO BY DANA BEN­NER

Never pass by a food source like these de­li­cious blue­ber­ries. PHOTO BY THINKSTOCK

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