Monday, 27 August 2012

The 2012 Calorie Challenge

Tamar at Starving Off the Land issued a challenge to us fellow home producers: meet 20.12% of your calorific needs in 2012. Curious to see how we would fare, and because Tamar and her husband Kevin can convince me to try anything, I happily joined in. Although a bit slapdash, I've endeavoured to keep a complete list of food we produce or harvest from the wild since the beginning of this year.

The guidelines are simple: Only count what you grow or forage, no bartered or bought goods. You don't have to eat all of it yourself but, if the armageddon happened tomorrow, and you could stomach a daily diet of five eggs and half a pound of lamb, those calories would keep you alive.

A batch of runner bean chutney simmering on the stove gave me a chance to sit down and work out the math. As per Tamar's helpful suggestion, I used the USDA website for calorie counts, and referred to the table in the back of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook when I got stuck. There is only marginal rigour in my science (more mortis, than rigour) but I averaged, rounded down, and made conservative estimates just to be on the safe side.

As of the 240th day of the year, we have produced, harvested, or foraged a grand total of 474,931calories. That works out to 1978 calories a day to share between us. If Mike uses 3000 calories per day and I use 2000, then we're meeting about 32% and 48% of our calories, respectively.

With our hunting and livestock, we have a high protein diet; the lambs, hoggets, and eggs combined account for almost half of our total calories. If we were vegetarians, we would have starved to death by April 15th, (a great opportunity to skip out on paying our taxes but a fairly final solution.)

In fact, if our normal mild summers continue to devolve into long spells of cold and rain, we could lose even more of our non-protein food sources. The vegetable patch is a horticultural disaster zone: onions which we won't be able to store, underdeveloped garlic, non-existent carrots, a pea crop that produced enough for only three suppers. Our apple crop is the worst I've ever seen.

The bean crop is late but they're coming, and the promise of an Indian summer means my pumpkins and tomatoes will keep ripening. There's some hope for the winter kale and broccoli crops if I can keep the caterpillars away. But, whether we like it or not, we will be embracing the Paleo diet for the bulk of our calories.

I can add 2 jars of runner bean chutney to the next half of the 2012 Challenge list. It should be ready to eat in a few months, when fresh beans will be a memory.

750grams runner beans - 172 calories.  Click here for recipe


Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

I had to go and invite you to participate, now, didn't I? Those are very impressive numbers.

Kevin and I are limping along, still just under 20% so far. We hope to get over the bar in the fall, when we harvest a pig, 6 turkeys, and maybe, just maybe, a deer.

Like you, we're getting all protein, all the time. Eggs in quantity, and fish fish fish. We've gotten some tomatoes from the garden, and it looks like we'll get a piddling contribution from squash and beans, but it's basically been eggs and fish. (We also hope for a small honey harvest, which will provide a few empty calories.)

The difference between what you get and what we get is the difference between dabblers and people doing it for real. But, if there is a lesson, it's that whether you're a dabbler or you're doing it for real, vegetarianism would be a tough way to go.

Hazel said...

I haven't been calorie counting (thank goodness, or I think I would have thrown the towel in in disgust this year). Our protein sources are only crayfish and eggs, which would keep the total calorie count low anyway. The garden has been a disaster from start to finish.
Thankfully we won't starve to death over the winter between now and trying again next year...

megan said...

I won't starve, but I am on the veg-mostly diet. The hens stopped laying, even in their new digs, but occasionally they pop out a few. My freezer is full of kale, chard, broccoli, blackberries, and green beans. Hoping for a good forage of elderberries. Winter squash, cukes, and zukes were demolished by insects. I did get a 130# honey harvest last weekend, so I could just mainline honey. Do broilers count if I get them as a bonus for giving so many veg to the land-owner, and building said broilers their fencing? Suppose that would count as "barter." Phht.

Anonymous said...

I live in Kent which used to be called "the garden of England". It seems a long time is that name applied.

You have done very well considering our summer - the list of things that turned up their toes in my garden is far longer than the things that produced a harvest. However, that hot spell we had around the end of July/early August came just right to ripen my experimental sweet corn canes (?). They were as delicious, straight from the plant, as you Americans have said they are.

You win some - you lose some.

Accidental Mick

Anonymous said...

It has always made me chuckle whenever I have over heard the sandle wearing veggie chompers claim that a man can grow all he needs to survive.

They should come and try it up here amoungst the rocks and the moorland.