Independence Days | Sharon Astyk
I should warn you upfront that no sooner was I done this book, that I started clearing a corner of my basement for long-term food storage. Not necessarily because Sharon Astyk makes a compelling case for the end of civilization as we know it, but because the notion of security – and in particular food security is so compelling to me. For more than a decade I have put some food by each year, canning mostly, occasionally drying foods, but after reading this book I’m committed to doing even more. Three months supply of food for each person in the house? I’m not sure about that yet, but I’ve got that corner cleaned out and I’m going to fill it.
Independence Days is an excellent introduction to the whys and hows of food storage covering everything from how to get your family to eat storage food (not a problem in our house because we already eat lots of beans and lentils and rice) to recipes to the principles behind lactofermentation. What I particularly appreciated were the acknowledgements throughout that moving oneself into a more secure food paradigm is a task often complicated by the hard realities of personal economics, and the people with whom we share space.
Astyk’s style is eminently readable – conversational and breezy throughout as she chides her own past mistakes in food preserving (really – she says – don’t let your fermenting kimchi explode in your kitchen), and imparts real-world wisdom in each step of the various processes – root cellaring, canning, drying, lactofermentation and season-extension in the garden. Additionally, an extensive home medical kit is also covered as part of your home preparations — just in case.
While not an alarmist, Astyk does ask us to consider the possibility that we encounter a disaster so great that we are not able to access grocery stores or municipal water supplies. That might be a quarantine, it might be an earthquake, or it might just be a job loss that leaves one with little means to pay the rent and eat. In any of these situations she suggests that putting food by while we have it available is not only a good strategy, but a responsibility to ourselves and our families.
I can’t say I disagree, and while greater food security for my family is something I’ve always meant to get around to, this book has provided me with the confidence to get started without being overwhelmed. If food security at home is something you think about, this is a good first-reference and an enjoyable read.