Homesteading Leads to a Longer Life
Written by Flea Christenson from Homesteadingedu
I know you’re questioning the veracity of this statement. I know you are. But I have an expert’s word for it. Homesteading leads to a longer life. Dan Beuttner’s Ted Talk indicates that there are six factors which lead to a life that extends past 100 years. He calls this the Blue Zone. Take a few minutes and watch his talk. Then we’ll discuss why homesteading leads to a longer life. I think you’ll see it, too.
See it? Let’s begin with why this is so important.
Life expectancy in the US is about 78, which is more than a decade short of what our potential says we should have. That seems like a lot. And you know what? I think that regardless of our lifespan, we should be living those years well. As Beuttner says, with extraordinary vigor. How long do you want to live? How well do you want to live? Homesteading can contribute to living long and living well.
Factors Blue Zone Cultures Have in Common
There are six things which everyone in the Blue Zones (zones in which long-lived people live) have in common. According to the Wikipedia page, these are:
• Family – put ahead of other concerns
• Less smoking
•Semi-vegetarianism – the majority of food consumed is derived from plants
• Constant moderate physical activity – an inseparable part of life
•Social engagement – people of all ages are socially active and integrated into their communities
•Legumes – commonly consumed
How can a homesteading lifestyle contribute to these factors? Let’s break them down and see where our choices come into play.
Homesteading won’t automatically cause us to put our families ahead of other concerns. However, growing our own food, working the soil, caring for animals – all of these things can lead one to choose the concerns of others over our own. We’re aware of a broader world, including the soil and creatures around us.
Homesteading creates a sense of harmony in the home. Working together makes homesteading better and easier. That said, family harmony, putting the concerns of others ahead of your own, is ultimately a choice you have to make. You may find that you have to make it daily in the beginning. Eventually it becomes a joyful choice.
I have only two things to say about less smoking. One, smoking more or less is a choice one makes, just like anything else. Two, I’m going to assume (since I don’t smoke) that one would smoke less if one were a homesteader and active. The little I know about smoking is that the reasons for continuing to smoke, while varied, outside of simple enjoyment, are relaxation and reduced anxiety.
Homesteading is a physical endeavor. It works both the body’s muscles, as well as the brain. I’m making another assumption in saying that relaxation and anxiety will both change with time when one chooses a homesteading lifestyle. Even if the choice is as simple as making your own Greek yogurt and sourdough bread on a regular basis (we offer classes on both of those). I know that I’m making a lot of assumptions here, but if you’re a smoker, give it some thought. And please, weigh in in the comments. I’d like to know more about your choices and challenges. Our homesteaders would love to talk with you about why this lifestyle may help to change your smoking habit.
Growing your own food in a garden means that you’ll be eating your own food. Notice that it doesn’t say total vegetarianism. Limiting your red meat and increasing your fruit and vegetable intake help promote a longer life. Maybe you live in an apartment and think you can’t grow your own food. Let’s look at two things you can do, short term, to increase your fruit and vegetable intake.
1 Container gardening – Whether you have a balcony, a patio, or just a window, you can grow food in containers most of the year. Click this link to see the idea behind container gardens. While living in the city, I’ve always had herbs growing in my kitchen window, as well as plants in almost every windowsill in the house. Growing food inside may not replace all of your fruit and veggie budget, but it helps. It’s fresh and delicious. We’ve also grown containers of tomatoes and other vegetables on the patio. Google is your friend, as well as our site. Where there’s a will, there’s always a way.
2 Farmer’s Markets – Maybe you can’t grow food indoors or elsewhere (college dorm or some other situation), but most cities and towns have farmer’s markets during the growing season. Not only do these offer fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, they can also offer grass fed meat grown locally. Explore your town and look for fresh food to take home for yourself and your family. It makes a difference.
Constant Moderate Physical Activity
Our homesteaders tell us often that they’re more limber and agile, well into their 50’s, because of their homesteading lifestyle. It’s a very physical lifestyle, requiring planting, tending, harvesting. If one includes animal husbandry, there’s daily care for the animals. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you’ll see how that plays out over time. One cannot be a homesteader and lead a sedentary life.
Also, constant physical activity, while contributing to a longer life in general, is actually relaxing. Spending time outside with the plants and animals is relaxing and rewarding.
While it would be easy enough to isolate oneself as a homesteader, it’s better done in community. Here are just a handful of ways one can homestead in community.
• Seed saving – the sharing of heritage seeds involves interaction with others
• Animal husbandry – there’s always more to learn about the care of animals, and especially when one of your flock is ill or pregnant – interacting with a homesteading community is an education, as well as life saving
• Swapping goods and services – it’s nearly impossible to grow everything which you and your family need, so bartering for the things you don’t produce can be both fun and beneficial
I’m hoping our homesteaders weigh in, in the comments, with other ways to engage socially as a homesteader.
This one was a surprise to me! But it shouldn’t have been. Legumes, or beans, are one of their biggest staples on the farm. Legumes are a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and protein. One can probably exist on beans alone if need be. And man alive are they tasty if cooked right! Stay tuned for recipes in the future. It’s our goal here at HomesteadingEdu to add recipes to the coursework, enabling you to truly utilize what we’re teaching.
Homesteading Leads to a Longer Life
Do you see it? Do you see how homesteading leads to a longer life? If you don’t, please weigh in in the comments. One or more of our homesteaders would love to chat. I suspect, since you’re already here and reading our blog, that you’re probably considering homesteading and its benefits. Why don’t you join us here on our journey? This blog is always free, and the classes aren’t expensive. Our homesteaders are thorough and interactive. Join us!
Oh, and I’m Flea, one of the former urban homesteaders. We sold our city house and are in the process of buying five acres in the country. So I’ll be learning right along with y’all! You’ll probably see my journey here, complete with the mistakes I’ll make. I look forward to walking with you!
Homestead in health, my friends!