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Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front Paperback – September 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


Climate change, peak oil and economic instability aren't just future social problems-they jeopardize our homes and families right now. Our once-abundant food supply is being threatened by toxic chemical agriculture, rising food prices and crop shortages brought on by climate change. Funding for education and health care is strained to the limit, and safe and affordable housing is disappearing.

Depletion and Abundance explains how we are living beyond our means with or without a peak oil/climate change crisis and that, either way, we must learn to place our families and local communities at the center of our thinking once again. The author presents strategies to create stronger homes, better health and a richer family life and to

  • live comfortably with an uncertain energy supply
  • prepare children for a hotter, lower energy, less secure world
  • survive and thrive in an economy in crisis, and
  • maintain a kitchen garden to supply basic food needs.

Most importantly, readers will discover that depletion can lead to abundance, and the anxiety of these uncertain times can be turned into a gift of hope and action.

An unusual family perspective on the topic, this book will appeal to all those interested in securing a future for their children and grandchildren.


About the Author

Sharon Astyk is a former academic who is a writer, subsistence farmer, parent, activist and prolific blogger ( and She farms in upstate New York with her husband and four children, raises livestock, and grows and preserves vegetables. She is the author of Depletion and Abundance, and co-author of A Nation of Farmers.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers; First Edition edition (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716148
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #360,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Story Circle Book Reviews on September 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
The secondary title of this book--One Woman's Solutions to Finding Abundance for Your Family while Coming to Terms with Peak Oil, Climate Change and Hard Times--pretty much tells the story.

This is not just another of those doom-and-gloom, batten-down-the-hatches-and-man-the-lifeboat handbooks we have seen so many of in the past few years. I've read most of those other books, and while they are helpful in understanding why we are where we are (in terms of energy depletion, climate change, and overwhelming personal and national debt), they don't go very far toward helping us deal with the problems we are facing.

Depletion and Abundance is different. For one thing, it is written by a woman--a smart, well-informed, and energetic woman. She is also a mother of four small children who manages to grow a garden, put food in the freezer, home school the kids, and write about it. These are not small matters, for all of the other books that have been written about energy, environmental, and economic woes have been written by men, bless 'em. These writers understand conceptually what we are facing and tell us with great authority and occasional sympathy just how bad it's likely to be. But Sharon Astyk is different. She speaks with authority and sympathy, but she focuses on how we can manage when tough times come. She writes with cheerfulness, humor, and great personal commitment. I'm betting that, if anybody can show us the way forward, she can.

For another thing, Depletion and Abundance is a book about the "new home front"--and if you ask me, this is where our real battles will be fought: not in Washington or in some foreign country, and not with guns (we hope). We will be trying to make our lives better at home.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Erika Queen on October 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front is a much-needed and very well written book. Sharon Astyk's voice and humor shine through her writing; I felt more like I was listening to her tell me a story, rather than reading a book. While other books that come about due to Climate Change and Peak Oil border on argumentative, Ms. Astyk sticks to the facts, what you and I can do about it, and her occasional (well prefaced) opinion.

After reading several books regarding the "state of things" (peak oil and climate change), Ms. Astyk's book was a welcome relief - no hysterics, scare tactics, or chapters upon chapters of statistics - just one, well educated mother/wife, telling the rest of us her take on what we can do to prepare for the future.

My favorite part of this book was Ms. Astyk's discussion of formal and informal economy, and how we can use both forms of economy to successfully transition from living globally to living locally. I also am thankful for her copious references and resources, as well as her list of "little" things that we can do to make a "big" difference (at the end of the book).

If you're not going to buy this book now, at least put it on your wish list, and check out Sharon Astyk's website.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By M. Garver on November 4, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for ideas on how to address our families future on a planet running low on natural resources. We garden and preserve and raise chickens and sew and drive an old clunker that gets very good gas mileage. We are the weirdos on the block who grow tomatoes in their front yard. We understand the peril of non-action and feel the need to gain as much knowledge as possible so that we are as prepared as possible for whatever scenario we are faced with. But we don't need to be frightened into doing our part toward that end. I found myself skipping whole chapters that seemed entirely devoted to scaring me into action. There were times I literally wanted to scream "I get it!"

Though there are wonderful sections in the book about family and community and the positives that can come out of being forced to change our global lifestyles, the overwhelming feeling is one of foreboding and doom.

ps. Re-reading this review I felt that I needed to add a disclaimer. Though I don't like to read the 'worst possible case' scenarios because I tend to be a bit of a worrier (ok, I can make myself sick with worry) maybe most people NEED to be frightened into changing their behavior since that may be the only way they WILL change. I've discovered over the last few months in discussing some of the issues Sharon brings up in her book that doing something out of purely altruistic motives is truly unique. Most people have to be pushed to make even small adjustments in their lifestyles. I will be recommending this book to that crowd.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By mark twain on September 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
Carbon Detox (Gaia Thinking)

Depletion and Abundance is helping me to take postive action through a sense of panic primarily, for me, related to how fast the climate is changing. She's reminding me of what really matters in family life, and community life. This is a Be Prepared manual that doesn't place individuals outside of their communities. Astyk is incredibly intelligent and funny as well. There's lots of fascinating social history and well as personal reportage. This book is going to be a classic. I love it. I only wish I had time to sit down and read it without interruption....
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