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Understanding basic nutrition is a key part of building a healthy homestead lifestyle. Having a healthy diet is a critical homesteading skill, especially if you are planning ahead for any kind of disaster. Basic nutrition on a homestead isn’t too much different than that of any healthy home. You need to know which of the food groups your food falls into, be able to read labels on pre-packaged foods, have a healthy mix of fresh fruits and vegetables, and stay away from heavily processed items. That’s why we made a guide to basic nutrition. Homesteaders also should know which ‘colors of the rainbow’ include what vitamins and minerals, good sources of protein, and how to preserve their foods so they can eat healthy no matter what.
Key to Success: Remember, there is nothing available at a grocery store that you should eat that you cannot make for yourself at home!
Beginner’s Guide to Basic Nutrition
Beginning with the basics is the first step to tackling basic nutrition on the homestead. Before you can start planning what food to grow, raise, or hunt, you need to know what types of food are out there. While most people are familiar with the food pyramid and its categories of grains and bread, fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy, and fats, they never think beyond that. In a society that tends to rush towards the next ‘fad’ diet, we need to know more than ‘all carbs are bad,’ or we could damage our bodies. Our food breaks down a bit more than can be seen in a simple diagram:
Within these larger food groups are the smaller Macro and Micronutrient groups.
- Macronutrients: Carbs, Protein, Fats
- Micronutrients: Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, Calcium, All Vitamins
Remember: Eating healthy is a lot easier when you grow, raise, and gather your own food!
Keeping healthy and getting the most out of basic homestead nutrition means finding our food types in three places: the garden, the field or stream, and the kitchen. By identifying your favorite fruits and vegetables, you can build your garden to provide things that your know your family will enjoy. Raising chickens and ducks provides eggs and meat. Likewise, you can herdshare for larger animal products such as milk, beef, and pork.
Most importantly, by focusing on these three areas, you learn the fundamental nutritional principle of avoiding highly processed foods full of refined sugars and trans fats.
It’s easier to adapt your meal plan to special dietary needs when you are primarily responsible for how the food gets on your table because you grow and cook it. Problems with gluten? No need to grow any barley, wheat, or rye. Trouble with dairy? Chances are you don’t have dairy cows. Many people with lactose intolerance are fine, however, with goat and sheep milk! In addition, by growing your own fruits and vegetables, you have access to a wider range of delicious and colorful options! This lets you ‘eat the rainbow’ and benefit from the full range of nutrition that fruits and veggies can provide.
- Including tomatoes, strawberries, red bell peppers
- Nutrients vitamin c, lycopene, vitamin A
- Helps support the heart, arteries, immune system
- Including carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, oranges, apricots
- Nutrients vitamin a, vitamin c, beta-carotene, vitamin b, calcium, iron, potassium
- Helps heart health and provides anti-oxidants
- Including lemons, yellow peppers, pineapple, corn
- Nutrients: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium, Lycopene, Vitamin B, Calcium, Iron
- Helps heart health, vision, skin, digestion
- Including cucumbers, broccoli, spinach, green pepper
- Nutrients: Lutein, Fiber, Beta-Carotene, Calcium, Iron, Vitamin K
- Helps reduce cancer risk, eye health, bones
- Including blueberries, blackberries, beets, plums, grapes, eggplant
- Nutrients: Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Vitamin b, vitamin e
- Helps bone health, memory, immune system, metabolism,
White/Light Green Foods:
- Including garlic, onions, leek, asparagus, summer squashes, fennel
- Nutrients: Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamin E, B Vitamins, Calcium
- Helps bone health, digestive health
Being able to grow your own fruits and vegetables gives you a much better grasp of your nutrition. You can stick to what you grow, know where your food has been, and live organically. Your body will be healthier and your homestead family happier.