By Daisy Luther
How many of you know the work it actually takes to make a homemade chicken sandwich? Our world of convenience has caused most Americans to lose touch with the work involved in producing food. Self-reliance takes a lot more than throwing some seeds on a patch of dirt and then magically being fed for a year. Grabbing a “quick” sandwich or bowl of cereal belies what it actually takes to procure those ingredients.
We take a lot for granted. We don’t think about life without things like specialized supply purveyors, large-scale agriculture, cheap labor, machines for manufacturing, and the transportation system. Very few people can imagine life without the accessibility provided to us by grocery stores and processed food. Even in the circles of those who stick closely to a non-processed diet, few go all the way.
Here’s a video showing the work it takes to make a homemade chicken sandwich
A video from Andy George, of the awesome show How to Make Everything, explores what it really takes to make a homemade chicken sandwich. The video blogger spent 6 months, $1500, and countless hours in pursuit of a meal that most of us would consider fairly simple. (Warning for the squeamish: an animal is butchered for meat in this video.)
In an interview after he made the video George said, “I respect that I can go into the store and buy this ready-made stuff so I don’t have to do it, but also enjoy the do-it-yourself experience and respect the people who want to make it on their own.”
Here is the step-by-step of what it takes to make a homemade chicken sandwich
Here’s what it takes to make a sandwich without the conveniences of stores and market transportation systems:
- Plant the wheat and vegetables.
- Tend your crops.
- Harvest your crops.
- Mill your wheat.
- Grind the wheat to turn it into flour.
- Go to the ocean and get salt water.
- Distill it to make salt.
- Raise a chicken.
- Kill the chicken.
- Clean and butcher the chicken.
- Bake bread.
- Cook chicken.
- Make the sandwich.
How does making a chicken sandwich relate to preparedness and self-reliance?
From a preparedness point of view, George’s video is pretty enlightening. I’ve written a lot about the production of food and the unsustainability of our current diets should a disaster strike that renders the transportation system obsolete. If you had to provide every single bite of your food, from nurturing the animals, planting the seeds, butchering, harvesting, and processing, you’d have time for little else.
Many folks who have never raised more than a small vegetable garden seem to believe that when disaster strikes, they’ll be able to live off the land. Their survival plan includes growing crops, raising livestock, and hunting. But have they really considered what it takes to do all of this? In today’s convenience-based society, even the more self-reliant among us have lived a very pampered life.
It starts locally
It can be done, though. We can all move towards a lifestyle that is more self-sufficient by focusing on what we can grow ourselves or acquire locally. To do this, we must not only learn to grow food, but to preserve it for times of the year when nothing is growing or when your garden flops.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life is a beautifully written book by best-selling author Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver’s book documents the year her family spent eating only food produced on her farm or nearby. Kingsolver and her family had recently moved away from their home in the desert to resurrect an old family farm. They weren’t lifelong producers of food. It’s a must-read for anyone considering embarking on the quest for a self-sufficient lifestyle.
Let’s use this as food for thought. What would it take for you to continue eating the foods you eat now? What can you produce entirely on your own? Share your answers in the comments below.
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
- Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs: The Thrivalist’s Guide to Life Without Oil
- The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget
- Storey’s Guide to Raising Miniature Livestock
- The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds: 322 Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, Flowers, Trees, and Shrubs
- Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables
- The Prepper’s Canning Guide
- The Locavore Way
- The Backyard Homestead
- The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself
This article makes some important points. Locally produced food will be essential to everyone’s survival if normal commerce breaks down for any reason. It is important to promote community now so we have the necessary links if TSHTF. You don’t have to completely abandon “opsec” as they say but you can share your surplus and ideas and buy from local producers if they are available. How about helping a sick or injured neighbor with planting or harvest.
Our go to crop for filling the belly is potatoes. Supposedly we could grow wheat in the area but it would take more land than we have cleared to experiment. Here in the Copper Basin in Alaska we have moose (one year a moose ate all my half grown cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower in one night) and a pretty good salmon run. If times get tough someone will poach the moose on sight but for now finding a legal moose often requires much time and expendature of gasoline searching. The fish are more dependable but they only run from late May until September and during those times they are not always in the river just because you are fishing. People who have fish wheels often pass around fish in excess of what they can handle. That is how it should be. I know one old guy from church who was given a moose quarter by a lucky hunter so he has some meat for the winter. You get the idea!
Oh, I just love the idea that anyone who has never gardened is going to plant their “Seed Bank” and live off the garden. It is MUCH harder than most of us (ahem, me) think before doing it.
I took your challenge last year to not shop at the grocery and to grow my own food and buy local. I have been doing it ever since. It is challenging to produce your own food. I find I end up eating a lot of the same things….eggs, lettuce, tomatoes, squash, chicken, and green beans. I appreciate my food more because I realize how much work goes into it. I told my husband, black walnuts should be worth $100 a pound from all the work that goes in harvesting! I’ll never go back. I have lost 2 clothes sizes without even trying and I truly can tell the difference in my food and industrial food. Mine is way better!
Great article! It truly is amazing to me how much people take for granted and just how ‘helpless’ most of America will be if it ever comes down to truly having to take care of themselves.
We have a full-on sustainable heritage and heirloom based homestead, and we grow and eat 95% of our food right here on our property. It is indeed very hard work, but some of the most rewarding work also. You’re also correct in that it is nearly a full-time job. There are no ‘days off’ and there is no ‘vacation time’…because the plants and the critters just won’t get on board with that schedule! 😉
I do question the $1500 for the sandwich though (I’m guessing most of that was on the trip to the ocean…lucky guy!) If I price it out including my time I can make that sandwich here for about $3.
Here’s the breakdown for the same sandwich made on our homestead:
We make our own bread from our own grain and it costs about 20 cents a loaf in the end.
We save seeds, so other than my time they’re cost negative.
We grow organically, and my fertilizer comes from the critters – so again, time but no cost.
I buy sea salt…99 cents a pound…I’m in WI, sorry no ‘sea salt harvesting’ vacations. 😉
We raise our own chickens, feed them from here on the property, and do our own butchering. Time, but no cost.
So factoring in my time for the minimal amount of meat and veggies that are in the actual sandwich I’m adding it all up to about $3 for a thick well made sandwich.
As for if the SHTF ever, I sleep VERY soundly at night, and worry about very little. Thanks for the read and please keep the articles coming…we really enjoy your site.
We raise meat and egg chickens as a sustainable endeavor. We also raise heritage turkeys the same way. The learning curve on incubating and raising turkey poults is quite steep. We had about fourty turkey eggs of which eight hatched and two grew up to be butchered this coming weekend. We did a visual necropsy of the remaining thirty-two and nine never developed, likely not fertilized. The rest were fully formed but never hatched. I suspect a few things may have gone wrong and will try again next spring after reviewing our processes and making changes.
We grow an organic, beyond organic, garden. Every year I learn some important lesson after a crop failure. We aim to grow enough for the whole year. We have reached that goal with one or two crops, but never every crop. This year, we planted broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes and sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, grean beans, cabbage and carrots.
I ran out of room or there would also be dried beans, summer and winter squash, hot peppers, beets and cukes.
Last year we grew grain. A 1/2 acre foursquare of oats, wheat, buckwheat and barley. Somehow, we completely missed the window for each grain and harvested…nothing. They grew well but we don’t know what we are doing so….
This year I was able to forage on our property- 1 1/2 gallons of blackberries, 8 ounces (dried) of wild thyme, 2 ounces (about 10 cups dehydrated) red clover, two quarts elderberries for tincture, many cups of sheep sorrel and eleven quarts (so far) of apple juice and hopefully seventy to ninety quarts of applesauce. Twelve quarts of pears already done and likely four to six more this week.
I would like to grow sunflowers for oil. And make any number of other things.
Every day, the world or my environs, teaches me something new snd