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Book Review: Depletion and Abundance Cooks Up Change

Granted, food lovers tend to migrate toward cookbooks as their foodie literature of choice. But, particularly amidst today’s economic gloom, it’s good to keep a well-balanced diet and chew on some advice about navigating the turbulent times that lie ahead.

New York homesteader and writer Sharon Astyk delivers such inspirational, nutritional nuggets in her new book, Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front (New Society Publishers). The subtitle describes her true calling: One Woman’s Solutions to Finding Abundance for your Family while Coming to Terms with Peak Oil, Climate Change and Hard Times.

Astyk draws on her academic background and ideas developed on her prolific, widely-read blog to offer a reality check on the tough times to come: It will get worse before it gets better and she had the numbers and analysis to prove it. This book takes local, seasonal and organic eating a step further into the future – what happens when peak oil hits, everyone is homebound and farmers markets and retail in general dry up while we weather the crisis?

But Astyk doesn’t leave us hanging, depressed and ready to relocate to other galaxies. Wrapped in engaging personal stories about her rural life in upstate New York as she homeschools her children, gardens and questions everything in her quest to live leaner and greener, readers bond with Astyk. With natural authenticity so real you feel she’s hanging out in your kitchen over a Fair Trade, shade grown cup of coffee, Astyk’s writing blends James Kunstler realism with the warm, personal glow of Barbara Kingsolver.

Some key themes that reign through the pages of Depletion and Abundance:

• Community Remains Key
As fossil fuel sources dry up, Astyk predicts a hyper-localized movement, one where community creates the core of one’s world, from food source to social tribe.

• Involve Kids
Astyk’s kids play a key role in both daily routines in her household and also a core motivation why she’s on this self-sufficiency journey. She distinctly offers homeschooling and home-based learning as options we may all need to explore when our current reliance on diesel bus transport to school buildings no longer is viable.

• Think Creatively
Astyk’s mantra of creativity fuels the positive message throughout this book. By questioning assumptions on everything from home financing to home gardening, Astyk provides fodder for us to look at our situation and daily actions in fresh ways, from wearing a hat in the house to keep fuel costs low to keeping three years of seed to get through that emergency time to come.

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