Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Setting it Straight

We've been getting quite a bit of press lately, which is cool, but some of the spin that the media has put on what we're doing is just flat out wrong and sensational so I want to get the record straight here on the blog. Most of you that follow us are probably well aware that what has been said is sometimes completely false, but there are also quite a few new people reading this so I just want to clarify some things.

So here are the top falsehoods that have been said:

We're doing this because of the recent food outbreaks
False. While it's a bonus that we don't have to worry about food recalls it's not something we think about that much.

We have lived exclusively off of our 1/4 acre for a year
That's false too. Just read the rules and you'll see that for the first 9 months we were going to the farmers' market, bought our staples from a buying club that sources local organic food, and shopped at local merchants that sourced local meat, dairy, and other products. The last 3 months we didn't buy any food but we still used stuff that we had on hand that we didn't necessarily grow.

You have to have a garden and livestock to eliminate the grocery store.
Completely false. This bothered me a great deal because the reason we were doing this was to help show people that even if they live in an apartment they can reduce their dependence on grocery stores. From October 1st to late June our garden was barely productive so we couldn't rely on it for all of our food. But it showed us that you don't need to grow and raise your own food to be grocery-store free.

They've saved X amount of money
This seems to be a moving target. Some of the reporters want to include the money saved on groceries *with* the money we've saved by gardening. I try to keep the two independent because we gardened a lot before we took on our year without groceries. So you'll see numbers ranging from $4,000 to $9,000 depending on what they want to share.

And then there were some things that we did say during the interviews that were "conveniently" left out for the sake of journalism:

Why we're really doing this
I've developed a pretty severe intolerance to soy and canola, which are in nearly everything. I was getting tired of wading through all the product additives that were made from soy but didn't actually say "soy" in the name. The best option I had was to eliminate processed foods from our diet.

We then learned that most farmers don't get very much money for the food that they grow (Walmart is one of the worst) and that most food at the grocery store isn't even from California or the U.S for that matter. We decided that it was really important that the money we spend on food goes almost entirely to the farmer. Buying directly from farmers not only helped support small family farms, but it also helps keep money in our community.

Don't take it all on at once
I'm a huge believer that raising livestock and growing produce isn't for everyone. There are other things you can do to change the way you eat without going as far as we have. We've also been doing this for over 6 years, steadily building up to where we are now.

Our neighbors actually enjoy what we're doing
They like to come over and visit with the animals, they enjoy the produce and eggs we bring them and we create an open dialogue with them to address any concerns they may have. We make sure the noise and smell are at a minimum (many of the reporters have commented about the lack of smell) and that everyone is happy, from our neighbors to the animals.

Hopefully that's cleared up some of the misconceptions to those that are new to the blog. I'm more than happy to answer anyone's questions as well.


  1. Back in the late 80's I was the first RN on the Mobile Medical Unit that served the homeless. The only other van anything like this was a pediatric mobile medical unit in NYC sponsored by Paul Simon. We got huge press...national coverage, etc. And we would sit and read the articles and think, "I never said that!" While they were all positive heartwarming stories you often wondered where they got 25% of the info.

  2. love following your journey. It's great that you are getting so much press. I am sure that your eating ways have been changed forever...year after year!

  3. Ayup, imagine our surprise when the 10pm news came on last week. The dood leans over, "We know them! Cool!!!" So we watched and listened to the nice tv reporter abridge the heck out of what you and Tom are doing, and cringed a bit. And then the tv anchor who segued back into the general broadcast of the evening made a really half-assed comment that made it sound like HE would not be raising his own food. Jiminy effing crickets...

    But any press is better than none, on this issue. I imagine a lot of general gardeners were watching and had lightbulbs popping on, over their heads.

  4. Hello. I find it interesting that you are doing this and want to congratulate you on your efforts. So, you've made headline Yahoo news!! That is how I found you. There is a family in Pasadena ( I think that is the city) and in their suburban neighborhood they have on 1/8th acre not only have become self sustainable but have turned it into a business in which all of their income comes from what they produce right there. I will dig up the link for you. We moved into our place that sits on a 1/4 acre and without work and only a disability check, we are working on becoming self sustaining. Since we eat only kosher foods, it actually makes it easier. We live in a rural area where there is nothing but big family farms that grow hybrid crops only,,,soy beans and corn. They also raise cattle out here. But I have a neighbor who raises goats and I help him with the work and we get goat meat and some of the dairy. I am now working towards getting a deal for one of his kids next spring. But growing organically is not as easy as many think and there are ways of boosting your soil so you have a higher yield. If you have any questions, I will be glad to help. BTW, I was Master Gardener both in Berkeley, CA and Seattle, WA, 20 years in each city.

  5. Amen, Azri'el!
    We too found you off of Yahoo News. This is soooo inspiring to me and we ourselves are in the long and slow process of trying to wean ourselves off of grocery store and processed food. Don't let the press bring you down! I love this and I love you even though I just barely found you!

  6. hi, love what you are doing. we are trying the same in sacramento. unfortunately, we cannot keep livestock (like goats)here, although we have 0.28 acres :(. anyways, hope you don't mind me saying, but the white writing on the black is really hard on the eyes, i was seeing spots even long after I stopped reading the page :)

  7. Wow what an amazing challenge. You have our support! Just came across your blog via Yahoo. So inspiring!
    Best Wishes
    Sonja (zerowastelifestyle)

  8. Last week my daughter and I were in the grocery store and we just didn't know what to buy, we both said we are tired of the same old things and going to the same take out places. I was praying God what can I do. This morning I saw you on yahoo and it is really giving me something to think about. So I thank the press because I love what you are doing, and I never believe half of that they say anyway.

  9. I saw this headline on Yahoo! News. Sorry if there were mistruths in some articles. That being said, I am thrilled to have found this blog and am pumped to follow it!

  10. Found yer blog via yahoo--which means your server will probably crash soon! Anyhoo, thanks for the clarity. I really wish the article I read would have noted some of the things they left out (allergies, farmers not getting the moolah), but think it's fabulous that folks will be able to find you and get more clarity.

    Looking forward to reading through your archives about the journey! Thanks so much for sharing it with the rest of us. Most importantly, thank you for supporting local farmers.

  11. What you are doing is so inspiring! Best wishes for abundant crops!!!!

  12. Hi, I found you through Linda over at PRACTICAL PARSIMONY and will read through your blog over the next few days. It sounds interesting.

    We grow our own vegetables and most of our fruit. Some meat. We have chooks (hens) so get eggs and meat from them.

    I'm in the process of setting up a challenge for us and not eating anything that we haven't produced ourselves. It will only be for a week or 2 though as I cannot produce everything and will go without certain things for only so long...

    Off to read a bit more of you.


  13. Found you through yahoo news as well!! I love this and look forward to going back and reading from the beginning. I think this is something nearly everyone wants to do but doesn't really know how to start. Awesome job guys.

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