Recently, our freezer stopped working. (Turns out we needed to defrost it). We were lucky that it wasnt a huge problem, however, it did get me thinking about alternatives.
Is there a way we can ditch the freezer for something more sustainable (Or even better, regenerative? Why sustain the status quo when we could perhaps make it better than we found it?)
The first thing that sticks out at me is the fact that we live in Wisconsin. If we really want some refrigeration, we just have to go outside. Unfortunately, that option only works for part of the year, what can we do when its not 30 below zero?
Well, lucky for us we have plenty of other food preservation methods at our disposal, some of them which we already use.
#1) Chickens (and other poultry) For those meat eaters out there who have a little bit of land, raise chickens! Unlike cows, pigs and other large animals, if you decide to make a chicken into a meal, you dont have to worry about preserving the excess, its small size makes it easy to work with.
While the chicken is waiting to become dinner it can also serve many other valuable functions like providing eggs, feathers, manure for your garden, heat for your greenhouse, it can reduce pests, and the habitual scratching in the dirt chickens do works great to prepare the soil for planting your garden.
(Better yet, let the little cluckers live, theyll do lots of great stuff for you in return and theyre kind of hilarious.) Check out this link for more tips on Chick Powered Permaculture!
#2)Fish…theyre like water chickens. They can perform many similar functions while they wait to make it to your dinner plate. Consider starting an aquaponics garden and the fish will help provide food for your plants and vice versa. Youll have a sweet little ecosystem in no time, and none of it will need to be refrigerated.
However, you will probably have to use some electricity to aerate the water, fish need oxygen too; or you could always raise bettas…but thats not much of a meal.
#4) Root Cellar. Another oldie but a goodie is the root cellar. Root cellars have also been combined with sand (above) for use in preserving food. We have an insulated room in our basement which we use as a root cellar.
#5) Canning Food. Everybodys grandma has done it. There are two methods for canning food, pressure or a hot water bath, just remember that if you are using a hot water bath, you will want to stick with foods with a high acidity, such as tomatoes or pickles. Other foods might run the risk of spoiling and should utilize a pressure canner instead.
Learn more about Canning your food here!
#6)Nestled Pot Fridge. By nestling a terra-cotta pot inside of a slightly larger pot, and filling the space between them with wet sand, you can effectively create a DIY, no electricity refrigerator. The wet sand has a cooling effect on the inner pot, studies have shown the space inside the smaller pot to maintain around 40 degrees fahrenheit.
Make one of your own here!
#7)Drying food- Using a food dehydrator will extend the life of many different forms of food, including meats. (Jerky anyone?) You can also use them to dry fruits, and even make your own versions of fruit roll-ups. (Minus all the gross unpronounceable chemicals) You could buy a food dehydrator at the store or make your own.
#8)Going with the flow. Eat sensibly, seasonably. Eat local food that is in season in its natural time. In this way, when youre hungry, just pick it and eat it. (Being from the cold north, I know thats sometimes easier said than done, but its not entirely impossible, especially if youre equipped with some of the awesome methods of food preservation listed above.)
Check out this awesome guide about sustainable seasonal food!
Let us know in the comments below what you think and other awesome tips for preserving food and living more conscious.