We’ve got a goal, here, this year. We’re trying to get 20% of our total caloric needs from first-hand food. So, at the end of each month, I’ll be tallying up the harvest.
But, before I give you January’s list, I have a confession. At the end of last year, when I added up our total 2011 take and figured out it was about 11% of our calories, I thought it would make all of you hunters, gatherers, fishermen, and gardeners curious about your own year in food. I thought I’d get comments along the lines of, “What a great way to look at first-hand food, Tamar! I added up our year and it was 47%!” Because my commentariat is uniformly polite and supportive, no one would add, “Ha ha!”
Only Milkweed & Teasel’s Jen, who, I am convinced, is my across-the-pond doppelganger, thought this exercise was even remotely interesting. In a hail-Mary effort to get people other than Jen interested, I even posted the tally on the Huffington Post. Let’s just say there’s no bandwagon forming.
So I have a question: Don’t you want to know? After all the work you do growing tomatoes and keeping chickens and raising livestock and tracking deer and hunting mushrooms and digging clams, don’t you want to know?
It’s not hard to work up a rough estimate of your take. We’re not looking for precision here. You eyeball your pile of potatoes and figure it’s twenty pounds. You take a guess of the average yield of your ducks. You count your chickens, and figure so many eggs per. Then you check the USDA’s calorie database and do the math.
Don’t you want to know?
Well, I want to know. And you’ll just have to bear with me as I do my little empirical exercise every month.
For simplicity’s sake, I count everything we harvest – whether we eat it or not – but nothing we barter for. The point of the exercise is not to track what we eat but to see how well we’d do if we had to rely on what we hunt, gather, or grow.
It’s a good thing we don’t have to rely on it, though, because we’d be mighty sick of eggs.
Here’s January’s haul:
1.5 pounds beets (300 calories)
1 pound parsnips (300)
1 pound beet greens (100)
1 pound collard greens (100)
50 oysters (500)
1 peck of clams (about 4 cups of chopped clam meat, 800)
1 eider (a whole 10 ounces of duck meat, 300)
18 dozen eggs (about 800 calories per, for a whopping 14,400)
On the other side of the equation, I’m still estimating that we need 5000 calories per day (2200 for me, 2800 for Kevin), even though it may be a little high. It makes the calculating easier: about 150,000 calories needed per month.
In January, thanks to our chickens, we harvested a respectable 16,800 calories. Of course, we didn’t eat all those eggs – we gave a lot away – but if the alternative had been going hungry, we would have.
January came in at 11%. Even though our goal is 20%, I don’t expect January to get there. There’s no fishing, there’s almost no garden, and, although there is some hunting I’m a crappy hunter. February and March, and maybe even April, will probably be about the same as January – all eggs, all the time. Come May, though, we’ll start picking up.
So, don’t you want to know?