Part of any sustainable project must consider energy and if the same project involves the home and everyday living, then inevitably, the type and source of the food you consume needs to be considered.
Basically, the more local the food, the more control you should have over it in terms of being able to know where it is sourced. In addition, there will be less embodied energy through lower transportation (food miles) , storage, and packaging.
The goal then is to source food that is safe, healthy, and has a minimum environmental footprint. In general, protein rich foods; particularly meats and dairy products carry the highest environmental costs. A quick google search of food, water and footprints striking comparisons of different food stuffs can easily be found.
With my house project, securing a large enough piece of land to grow vegetables and have a variety of fruit trees, nut trees, vines, and other perennials.
For main sources of protein, we have seven chickens for eggs and on occasion, meat, and in the summer of 2014 we got two female Sannen goats from which we hope to secure a safe and healthy source of milk and cheese – without the hormones or antibiotics that are often used in commercial dairies.
This commitment however is not without problems that need to be overcome. In short these are:
#1 Noise: Both goats when we first got them, were extremely vocal. However, after a week they had settled in, and noise is now no longer a problem – BIG relief.
#2 Land: We need more grazing land to which we can take and leave them during the day We have found a couple of empty rice fields near our house which we have permission to use. In addition there is a lot of other unused land near our house where we can leave them.
#3 Feed: There are very few farm animals in Japan compared with 30 years ago, and certainly compared to my home town in Devon, UK. As such, hay is a rare and expensive commodity here.
#4 Trees: I now have the dilemma every time I want to plant another tree – should I leave the land tree free and usable by my goats or continue tree planting, so reducing the land available for grazing by goats? Goats love to eat trees and tree bark, which quickly kills the trees. As problem #2 has mostly been overcome, this dilemma has all but disappeared.
In the spring 2016, we would hope to have the arrival of our first baby goat(s) from which time, the supply of milk and then cheese would hopefully start.