Self-Sufficiency and it’s insufficiency

If you are reading this, I guarantee you have heard of the idea of self reliance or self-sufficiency.  If not, well, I’m quite surprised!!!!  Dwelling in the homesteading community for the little time I have, this saying has been strewn about more times than I can count.  It’s touted by bloggers, vloggers, writers, podcasters, and influencers from many backgrounds in the real food revolution.  There are even some who specifically go by the name itself, which isn’t wrong by any means, but it is becoming sort of a semantic satiation or a meaningless mantra.  This is why I want to ask the question is self-sufficiency all that? Lets dive into what it means to be self-reliant and the repercussions it can have in our journey towards good wholesome food.  

A field filled with wild clover and trees in the distance.

Before I completely dive in, I do want to stress that this is not intended to be a bashing session on the many who are firm believers in self-sufficiency, but more of a challenge to revise the motivation and purpose behind what we are doing by cleaving away from convenience culture.  I want us to think about what self-sufficiency does for us, our family, and our communities.  I want to make sure that if this is something we are going to preach to people that we don’t spread the wrong idea of our intentions and motives. 

Okay, let’s resume.  The definition of self-sufficient from the ole dictionary states “needing no outside help in satisfying one’s basic needs, especially with regard to the production of food” (Merriam Webster, 2023).  Guys.. these citations are taking me back to 10th grade English class haha!!  I can’t help but cringe lol.  Back to the point.  With this definition alone, there truly is no issue.  But, with the addition of self-reliance, we get a slightly different flavor.  That definition being “reliance on oneself or one’s own powers, resources, etc.” (, 2005).  This is where the problem creeps in.  If we go with the notion that someone is trying to rely on no one’s resources but their own then they aren’t supporting other businesses that could really be making a difference in the whole/slow food revolution.  This is my biggest qualm with self-sufficiency and self-reliance.   If our idea of not depending on corrupt and unethical businesses entails only producing and consuming in such a way where there is no supporting or interacting with other businesses (even the good ones) then this will restrict our ability to serve our community.  

The second thing that I see all the time, especially on youtube, are people who jump into this hobby and end up putting years and years worth of food away that could potentially never be eaten.  Food preservation is in no way wrong, but hoarding what we have in excess (excess being inevitable) and not giving our food to anyone else who may be in need, we are limiting what we can give to people who maybe have no idea of what they are truly consuming from the grocery store.  I believe the best and most inspiring form of homesteading is the kind that is serving others that are in need or have no knowledge or understanding of what we are doing.  

Again I am NOT saying that this is what anyone in specific is doing by becoming self-reliant or self-sufficient, but, we would all be lying to say that self sufficiency doesn’t sometimes encourage this sort of action.  There is something inside each of us that says “oOooo, I can store all of this food away JUST for me and my family”.  The (JUST) part is the most problematic area that needs to be addressed within each of our hearts.  For 1 John 3:17 says “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him”?  To love, we must give our abundance to others.  We have so much, and there are way too many who have little to nothing and the reason why someone is poor should never be what determines if we should give to them.  Christlike generosity doesn’t discriminate.

We all want control and a feeling of security.  It feels good to know that you don’t have to worry about what you are going to eat for a long period of time.  What doesn’t feel good; is not knowing if you are going to have enough money to be able to buy groceries, not having enough food to feed your three kids, not knowing if you will be able to continue to live in the shoe box apartment you’re all crammed into.  We can deny it all day long, but there truly are many in our communities who live with those thoughts flooding through their minds every second of the day.  What if we could be the people that make them a meal like they haven’t had in years, just to bless them?  What if all of us came together and shared our food abundance with the masses?  What if that’s all it could take to help resolve the hunger problem in our towns and cities?  Wouldn’t that be amazing?!? 

Now I know this is a little bit of an overly optimistic dream (yes I do understand that these problems are much more complicated than this) but it doesn’t hurt to desire goodness to come upon one’s community.  Also, I’m really preaching to myself!!  Feeding others, especially outside of our homes, is not convenient.  It takes time out of our days to make food on top of the food we are already making for our families, and then transport it, and even serve it.  This isn’t easy, but I do think it’s something the homesteading community could work on.  I want to strive moving forward to commit to serving my community with my family’s food in some way shape or form.  Who’s with me?!?  🙂  We could not only create a counter cultural slow food revolution, but also an educational revolution within the movement itself!!  How amazing would that be?!  

So to answer the question is self-sufficiency really all it’s cracked up to be?  I think, in having the right heart posture, it is!  But only if we are always willing and ready to give what we have.  This will be difficult, but in the long run it will make for good change.  The kind of change that our world currently needs right now.  Also if you enjoyed reading this, Sign up for the cultivating in the waiting email list and be a part of this community that is making slow but BIG change! 

Peace be with you always. 


“Self-Sufficient Definition & Meaning.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,

“Self-Reliance Definition & Meaning.”,,

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