Independence Days

One of the things I picked up at Lehman’s is Sharon Astyk’s book, Independence Days:   A guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation. 

Turns out, the book is more and less than I imagined.  After a quick flip through and a read of the first few pages, I imagined the book to be about how to preserve food that you’ve grown or acquired locally, mixed in with a healthy dose of food politics.  All good things.

It is this, but it’s more–more in a different sort of way.  More like a “end of the world, major crisis, must learn to weather a nuclear fall-out” kind of more.  I wasn’t really prepared for this sort of crisis-oriented look at food storage, imagining this was more of a “Laura Ingalls on the prairie” kind of food storage book.  Yes, I knew this book dealt with food politics but I didn’t realize it did it from an “end of the world” crisis perspective (emphasis mine).

It’s not that Asyk is an end-of-the-world nutter, she isn’t, but she does believe that a crisis in our food system is impending, and she’ll be prepared for it.  I’m sorry to say that we will not.

The book is well written, an easy read, so I stuck with it.  And I agree with much that Astyk has to say about the food system and how we rely on it in a false cloud of security.  And while I’m a food stocker, always buying more than we’ll eat and having a pantry and freezer full of stuffs, I’m no where near ready for a real crisis, according to Astyk.

To begin with, I only have about 1 lb of oats on hand.  I really need 50 lbs.  I maybe have 5 lbs of rice, if you combined all different kinds I’ve got.  Again, I should have at least 50.  And I’ve got way too much in my freezer.  If the electricity dies for 2 weeks, I’m screwed.  All that meat I’ve stocked up is a goner.  Flour?  I’m low right now–probably only about 15 lbs total, and that includes wheat, rye, etc.  Most of which are small amounts of specialty flours.  I need more like 100 lbs of flour.  Preserved foods not needing electricity? Well, a few cans, jars, etc.  Some home canned but most from the store.

And what about food that doesn’t have to be cooked?  How would I cook all that lovely meat defrosting in my non-electrified freezer?  We have a gas burner top that I can light with matches.  Did that the last time the electricity was out for a whole day.  But beyond that?  All my camping equipment is now at the farm.  I’m strung out now between two home-sites across a 2 hour distance. The food is here–the cooking equipment is there.

What I’ve taken from the book is that there is much more I can do to bring myself to a greater degree of food independence, whether I’m preparing for a short or long-term crisis or not–food independence is something we should all be thinking and doing more about.

Learn more about Sharon Astyk’s books and views on life at her website and blog.

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