What We Learned From A Year Without Food From A Grocery Store

By Rachel – dogislandfarm.com

I can’t believe it’s been a year now since we started our year without groceries. We learned a lot in that year. We are definitely healthier, but also we’re happier. Our relationship with each other is stronger as we’ve had to learn how to really work well together.

When we first decided to do a year without buying food from the grocery store, convenience stores, box stores or restaurants we thought the challenge was going to be really difficult. And it kind of started out that way. We had difficulties getting local milk, even though we live near a lot of dairies, and our goats hadn’t been bred yet so we had to wait for them to start producing. We had an order on part of a steer that almost didn’t come in, and our first monthly co-op order was missed.

But as time continued onward we started to get into the groove of things. After a lot of research I had found a milk delivery service that actually came to my town. We made do that first month without our co-op order and the steer finally came in. We visited the farmers’ market every Saturday and if something came up and we couldn’t make our local one, we were able to always find another one in a nearby town that we could go to. Our little urban farm started to become more productive and eventually we were able to provide all of our own dairy from our two goats.

We met a lot of great small family farmers and built relationships with them. They answered our questions, gave us tours, and we relied on them for our food. We learned that you don’t have to produce your own food to give up the grocery store, you just have to get out there and meet the people that do produce your food. Not to mention that we saved money on food while buying higher quality products.

About 6 months into our year we realized that it was pretty easy and that we wanted to have more of a challenge. We decided to go the last three months of our challenge without buying any food. We would have to rely on what our little lot could provide us along with anything we had on the shelf.

We were so far behind on planting due to Mother Nature refusing to cooperate that I was worried we wouldn’t have anything to eat fresh. We got lucky and our first big harvest was the day we started the three month challenge. For those first few weeks we were limited to cucumbers, green beans and zucchini. That was probably the hardest part of the challenge – having such a limited diet. And because of our less than stellar weather during the first part of the year, our fruit trees were a complete failure.

On the plus side though we learned first hand what we should have in storage in case of emergencies. We also developed a bartering system with friends which helped strengthen our community.

After a year of being free from grocery stores we decided to continue this journey indefinitely but we’ll allow ourselves one restaurant visit a month. We met a lot of great people along the way and we learned a lot about ourselves.


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  • Sheri

    Oh! So amazing! I am UBER impressed with your decision to stop going to the grocery store. I started the Low Gi diet about 3 months ago and have gained an incredible amount of knowledge and even an online support-base. But this makes Low Gi look insignificant. Incredible! I bow down to you. 🙂

  • Brian

    Awesome! I’m going to try to do no groceries eventually… I think the hardest part about it is the fact that you basically have no access to fatty oils to cook with. How much weight did you guys lose? What did you use for cooking fat?

  • We salue your initiative. I have planted vegetables only two seasons in my life and we harvested too much of some things and not enough of others. So one has to learn to barter. But it does take time. It was hard work! Back then we were not internet savvy – and I think that would make a huge difference.

  • deborah

    the article was awesome and quite inspiring…I have approx. 1000 square feet of garden now and think I shall set my self up to try this as well 😉 I do think it is most inappropriate to have a ridiculous grocery coupons add pasted on it though! Seriously!

    • Wake Up World

      Hi Deborah,

      We are so glad that you found this article inspiring

      In reference to the ad. This is a random ad generated by Google, which we don’t have a lot of say in what pops up. I would prefer not to have any ads on the site. But due to its popularity after only 6 months, it is very expensive to run. So apologies for what may have been seen as an inappropriate ad, but without them, there would be no Wake up World. Thanks for everyone’s understand 🙂

  • A great story and adventure you have completed, and continue, well done. I have just set myself a challenge to eat from my garden 3x a week. I am writing about it on my new blog. It is so satisfying to be able to collect your own produce and make delicious fresh meals. I haven’t cut out supermarket visits but they have certainly been cut down and I am to further reduce them. Thanks for a great story. Kyrstie

  • Vaikunthanath Kaviraj

    Is it possible to submit stuff also? Because I have developed the most advanced pest and disease control method in the world, by using homoeopathy for plants. Minimum cost, maximum effect and completely non-toxic and most frugal with precious resources.


    • Bradley Cahill

      Homeopathy is not the answer- the best disease and pest control is the plant’s own immune response, which is maintained by giving the plants the right minerals they need. When your plants have all of the things they need to grow strong, they will be naturally resistant to pests and disease. Even more important is keeping the microbes alive and prosperous in your soil. Homeopathy is pseudo-science, so studying biology will make a bigger difference and have lasting, sustainable results.

  • Mel

    Thank you for such a wonderful article, you’re a real inspiration and testament to the fact that it’s still possible to save the world from multinational take-over!
    Keep up the good work
    Mel :0)

  • Sarah

    Amazing! I have a few questions for you though. How big is your family? How about your home, is it in the country or are you somehow raising goats in the city? How much space do you have for your garden? I’m interested in starting a garden but we’re almost at 6 kids and I’m thinking we need a farm!

    • Wake Up World

      Hi Sarah, I forward your comment to the author of this story and this is their reply

      “Right now our household consists of 3 adults and 1 teenage boy (the term “hollow leg” applies here). We live in the city on a quarter acre lot. Our garden occupies approximately 900 sf of that lot.”

  • Tom in Maple Valley

    Good story. However it would be nice to read the longer version, telling more exactly what you did eat.

    One thing I’ve been learning lately is the importance of growing storable staple foods, things like grains, beans, potatoes and winter squash. Canning and dehydrating are important, too.

    Recall that pioneer families didn’t just start living off the land one day. They planned and stored food for months before setting out. And then there are the basic kitchen necessities, salt sugar and spices. How does one supply those without a trip to the grocery store?

  • June Belonger

    Wow, that’s quite a nice read!

  • Chyrl Duggan

    I agree with Tom in Maple Valley. More information – the expanded version would be awesome! We all need to learn more self-sufficiency and need lessons on how to do so. We all became brainwashed and addicted to crap food (until I decided vegan felt better) but that still takes me to a store.
    In this age of two incomes needed in a lot of cases how fabulous is the barter system or each person involved in a community serves a specific purpose of milling grains, baking breads dehydration etc. I would love a community garden and co- op. In the beef capital in which I reside it is hard to find such things. Learning from others mistakes and learning how to create my own community would be helpful. Bond the like minded people together.

  • T.J. in Frederick MD

    I agree this is awesome I’ve recently started a rooftop garden with some herbs and about 6 different veggies. I too want to stop eating from grocery stores as I don’t like the idea of eating GMO’s until I die from cancer or something else. What would be the best advice you would give someone that has very limited land and can’t own goats?