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Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation Paperback – November 1, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Hard times aren't just coming, they are here already. The recent economic collapse has seen millions of North Americans move from the middle class to being poor, and from poor to hungry. At the same time, the idea of eating locally is shifting from being a fringe activity for those who can afford it to an essential element of getting by. But, aside from the locavores and slow foodies, who really knows how to eat outside of the supermarket and out of season? And who knows how to eat a diet based on easily stored and home preserved foods?

Independence Days tackles both the nuts and bolts of food preservation, as well as the host of broader issues tied to the creation of local diets. It includes:
  • how to bulk buy and store food on the cheap
  • techniques from canning to dehydrating
  • tools: what you need and what you don't.
In addition, it focuses on how to live on a pantry diet year-round, how to preserve food on a community scale, and how to reduce reliance on industrial agriculture by creating vibrant local economies.

Better food, plentiful food, at a lower cost, and with less energy expended, Independence Days is for all who want to build a sustainable food system and keep eating-even in hard times.

About the Author

Sharon Astyk is a former academic who is a writer, subsistence farmer, parent, activist and prolific blogger (www.sharonastyk.com and http://henandharvest.com/). 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: 368 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers (November 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716520
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sharon Astyk is a former academic who is a writer, subsistence farmer, parent, activist and prolific blogger (www.sharonastyk.com and http://henandharvest.com/). 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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Independence Days is a book about food security. Like Sharon Astyk's two previous books (Depletion and Abundance; A Nation of Farmers), this one focuses on the need to assume personal responsibility for food self-sufficiency and for shortening the supply chain from farm/garden to table. Unlike Asktyk's previous books, this one is also a how-to, as well as a why-we-should, complete with helpful instructions for creating and managing a food storage pantry, preserving fresh foods, and cultivating a frugal and self-reliant life style.

Astyk's arguments for the importance of personal food security ("one of the central issues of our time") are compelling. A looming energy crisis, soil and water depletion, and the threat of global warming--these are all reasons to be concerned about the reliability of our food supply and the need to take personal control, as far as possible, over the food we put on our family's table. "Independence days" (a concept Astyk borrows from Carla Emery) are days when we're eating food we grow ourselves or obtain locally. For Astyk, true independence is freedom from the industrial food system that feeds most Americans.

Hence this book, which recommends various methods for food preservation (canning, pickling, dehydrating, fermenting); for purchasing, stocking, and storing food in pantry, root cellar, and freezer; for acquiring tools and equipment, in addition to adequate supplies of water, medicine, and other necessities; and for creating and using community resources. All of this advice is sound, helpful, and inspiring. It is also very credible, for Astyk practices what she preaches, and it's good to know that she has tried the methods that she advocates. The various sections are also illustrated with recipes, more or less effectively.
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Format: Paperback
It's not that I didn't like this book, or find some of the information presented useful. I'm all for preservation and sustainable eating, buying from farmers and growing your own if possible. That's why I was interested in this book. However, I was looking for a preservation how-to, which, based on the title, this book seems it would be. It's not. It's mostly telling you why you should store six months worth of food for everyone you live with ... ok ... moving on. Or not, in the case of this book. I think that food preservation stands on its own merits, and shouldn't need the threat of impending doom to make people interested in it, which the author clearly does. By the third time she had mentioned that children and the elderly can die from the shock of dietary changes in the event of the apocalypse, I was a little weary of the impending doom, myself. If you are looking for a practical guide to preservation and storage, look elsewhere. If you are looking for the political motivation for said storage, read on.
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Format: Paperback
Great book on being prepared for any emergency that may arise - without hitting the panic button. Easy and fun to read with great advice on getting started with food security for yourself and hopefully expanding to your neighbors and beyond. She is pragmatic about the learning curve, with a good sense of humor. I would recommend this to friends.
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I bought this book based on these same reviews, and oh my goodness am I glad I did it. This book is a valuable resource. It is an excellent starting point for all things self-preparedness, but it is more than that. I would go so far as to say that anyone who gives a darn about someone in this world should read it. Sharon doesn't just tell you how to make pickles (or kimchi). She teaches you about the kind of person we all should strive to be. How to take care of your own, but also to be kind and generous and think about MORE than just who's in your corner. I also very much appreciate the why's tossed in with the how-to's. It is so much easier to wade through the oodles of products, websites, and cookbooks out there when someone with a sense of humor tells you how they approach it. It always helps to learn from someone else's mistakes if possible. I am so very glad she took the time to write this book.
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I found this book a disappointment. It was more why you would want sustainable food storage and preservation than how to do it. Not what I was looking for. More theory than how-to. I returned this book.
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I recently planted a more extensive vegetable garden than usual because of my family's current economic uncertainty. Because I'll (hopefully) have more produce than in the past, I wanted guidance on how to preserve any excess. The extent of my experience preserving is drying tomatoes in the oven, packing them in olive oil, and keeping them in the fridge. That is why I bought this book.

The book was not exactly what I expected, but I loved it. After reading it, I did something I'm pretty sure I have never done in my adult life: cooked and ate all the fresh food I had on hand before I went to the store and bought more. The author does not prompt the reader to do that, but I found that the book so changed the context in which I think about food, I just naturally did it. Previously, the system I used for feeding my family was to graze through cookbooks to come up with a week or two of menus, put together a shopping list, and go buy it. The problems with that are: the leftover ingredients that are frequently wasted, the changes in plans, people dropping over and I don't have enough food to feed them, the necessity of having to sometimes visit more than one store, and having to reinvent the wheel so often. Even worse is when I don't have the planning time and just walk into a grocery store looking for something to fix for dinner.

After reading this book, I will be buying staples in bulk, investigating how to get what I need locally or straight from a farmer, using my own produce (fingers crossed), and fixing meals from what I have on hand. I can never be one of those people who fixes the same dish every day of the week (meatloaf on Monday, etc.
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