The Paleo Problem with Living Off The Grid

Lately I’ve been fantasizing about living in the middle of nowhere in a small home off the grid. Here are some of my housing picks so far…

Treehouse in Costa Rica at Finca Bellavista treehouse community. Photo from


Home in New Zealand made from a large storage container. Pic from
Home in New Zealand made from a large storage container. Pic from


Hobbit House hand built by Simon Dale in England for $5000. Photo from
Hobbit House hand built by Simon Dale in England for $5000. Photo from


I’m actually serious about doing this some day, and all of these options are viable in my mind. I don’t need much: just a kitchen, a bed, and the internet and I’m good. Oh, and some rocks to climb on would be nice. And yes, the treehouse has internet!

But there’s one other small thing I need that makes me hesitate to move out of the Boulder bubble permanently: good food. Let’s consider the living situations above for a moment so you see what I mean.

Treehouse in Costa Rica

Seth and I could buy a treehouse from, which looks like a really incredible treehouse community reached by a 5 hour drive and a 35 minute walk from the airport. There’s a town 1.5 miles away with a little store, but we all know what those little markets are like: rice, beans, fruit, veggies, factory farmed/cured meats, and boxed sugary foods. Where’s my non-toxic produce going to come from? Where am I going to get my freezer full of grass-fed and pasture raised meats? Do I need to grow it myself? Sure, we can grow some of the produce, but livestock isn’t allowed in the treehouse community and I don’t think they’d be keen on me shooting capuchin monkeys and toucans from my treehouse porch.

The other alternative is to drive an hour to the nearest larger town for a big grocery store, but for what? I’ve been to Mexico, Spain, Trinidad, and Venezuela and I’ve never seen any organic sections in grocery stores there.

Shipping Container Home

Seth and I have seriously considered buying a plot of land in Kentucky near the Red River Gorge, which is an amazing climbing area 1 hour east of Lexington. We think we could make a really cool storage container home (check these out if you don’t think they can be awesome) on some cheap land in the boonies.

But then what? In order to buy organic produce we have to drive at least an hour (depending on how far out in the boonies we live) to the Whole Foods in Lexington. There are some local sources of pastured meats on that I just found, so that eases my mind a bit. Then I just need to plant a garden and find a CSA, and maybe we’d be all good?

Hobbit House

Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m a hobbit freak – a Tolkien fanatic – and that a hobbit home would make me as happy as Gollum with his precioussss. I suppose we could build one of those in Boulder, right? I’ll look into land right now.

For real, though, this guy built that hobbit house with materials he found in the area in Wales with a little help from his friends. Check out the inside and the building process here – it’s gorgeous. But part of the hobbit home allure would be the rolling hills in the background a lack of any obtrusive Mordor-borne creatures… like humans :) So it’d have to be in the middle of nowhere and then we’re faced with the same food predicament as outlined above.

So help me out, guys!

How does one live off the grid in the middle of nowhere whilst remaining true to her dietary ethics? Do any of you guys do this? How, where, why?


  1. I think we should all get together and start our own little real food/paleo/primal community (in real life… the interwebs are great, but it’d be awesome to be able to send my future children next door and know they won’t be fed froot loops or some other horrid crap). I seriously wish that existed.

  2. Grow food. As a fellow resident of the Front Range, I assure you that if you can master growing vegetables with the vagaries of Front Range, Colorado weather and altitude, it will be easy peasy anywhere you eventually choose to settle. Despite the snow this week, this is the time to get set up. Generally, it’s safe to plant in the ground (again, specific to Front Range) by mid May to first week of June. I have a friend in central California who harvested her first radishes a week ago! The easiest, simplest gardening system ever is described in “The Square Foot Garden.” This system can be adapted to pretty much anywhere, including window boxes out an apartment window so get it and get cracking. :-) “Carrots Love Tomatoes” is another invaluable resource, teaching how to pair food plants and flowers together to get beneficial, insect repelling relationships between different types of plants.

    As far as meat, one of my priorities in looking for a new place, is the ability to raise livestock. For options, I would suggest “The Backyard Homestead” which provides an eye opening look at how little land you actually NEED to properly raise chickens, rabbits, a pig, or a small head of beef. You can actually do all of the above, and throw in a beehive, on 1 acre of land, assuming it’s set up well. If you do want red meat on your plate, consider naturally miniature animals such dexter, lowland cattle, or zebus, icelandic sheep, or pygme or kinder goats. All of these animals are much smaller than conventional meat breeds, most are duel purpose (for example, the dexter and zebu cattle can be used for draft work, their females provide good milk if you’re into that, as well as meat), and “thrifty” meaning that they thrive on what is naturally available rather than requiring high calorie grain.

    For me personally, I would eliminate the treehouse community entirely, beautiful as it is, because of the inability to produce meat. I would evaluate all other homes, communities, and land, in part on the ability of the ground to grow good veg and to produce strong healthy meat animals. You can learn some of the later from books but talking with life long farmers and meat producers will give you the eye witness information that makes a person a stockman. :-)

  3. I posted a photo of that hobbit house on Pinterest a few months ago (I am also a Tolkein fanatic), That is my favorite and I fantasize about having a garden on the roof or sheep grazing up there or something. I love the treehouse, too, but I have fears of falling as I stumble around at night!

  4. My boyfriend works for Tumbleweed Tiny House Company ( and we have plans to build our own very shortly. Our solutions to these issues for ourselves are 1) living off the grid does not necessarily mean living far away from the city. You can live off the grid on a plot of land in town with some ingenuity, and 2) tiny community garden in combination with CSAs. Our big dream is to build several tiny houses and live in community with other likeminded individuals (some of whom also work at the same company) and build a huge garden and keep our own goats and bunnies and ducks.

    Check out the tiny houses on tumbleweed, if only for ideas. :)

  5. Hi all, Forgive me if I am wrong, but living off grid means not having money and therefore the bigger problem would be how would you buy that food even if you could find the shop? How would you buy the fuel or run your car?
    Strictly speaking, you are probably wanting an eco-village or intentional community where the ethos is sustainability, growing your own produce and working together as far as possible to be as environmentally friendly and health conscious as possible. I am in the process of studying just how to get such an ecovillage started and we have a committee together, with loads of expertise, as well as a perfect water recycling technology expert, (Prof. K. J. Hsu) so that we will have nitrite free drinking water and biofuels – if it all goes well we will supply surplus energy to the grid! Join us in Surrey UK soon! (Hold thumbs, or pray, or anything else that will help!)

  6. That would be awesome! I’d love to do this. I did have a farm in AL at one time… It was not off grid, but we used little power in our vegetable growing, canning, chicken raising… I can see how it could be done! Especially if everyone had a niche!

  7. The Hobbit house is by far my favorite :) I grew up in L.A. and I can’t tell you how much I’ve fantasized about this — it will happen, but most likely when my kids are grown and I’m living by myself.

  8. I live in a part of Maine (Blue Hill peninsula) where many families are raising livestock on their property. There also numerous small farms raising grass-fed beef, pork, sheep, rabbits & chicken, available through CSA’s or the local co-ops. The same is true for veggies–many options there, though not as many as in the Pacific Northwest. There’s a multi-county greenhouse project where families are bulk ordering greenhouse components, so multiple greenhouses are popping up. Small local, organic farms are also plentiful in Waldo & Knox counties. Also, many families living in very small square-foot housing–the housing boom never really happened in Maine, very few McMansions, except along the immediate coast, and those are only visible from the water……

  9. I would echo what Paleo Jew said about growing food. It isn’t really living off the grid if you are relying on the same (unsustainable) food systems as before. Growing your own food is the best way to ensure organic produce after all. Land in Costa Rica, Belize, Roaratan Island, a Caribbean island sounds the best option in that regard. Perhaps not in the coveted tree house community, but elsewhere since rainfall is plentiful, sunshine abundant and soil rich. A Caribbean island may actually be a good bet since communities there are small and the amount of driving or cycling to things you want to buy will be more limited, it’s possible to get to know farmers so you can ensure that their produce meets your standards, etc.

    Re meat the options that Paleo Jew mentions for livestock are all really rough on the planet. Why not consider raising insects for food, guinea pigs or rabbits or fish farming. All of these can be integrated into existing cycles in your household. People in S. America for example feed their guinea pigs food scraps from their kitchens.

    To me, living off the grid doesn’t just mean getting away from cities or other people but really planning out a life that can be sustainable and independent from every angle.

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