"Independence Days" by Sharon Astyk
In the last few decades we have seen major changes in our approaches to food. Supermarkets are no longer just for food (just the other day I purchased my son's snowsuit alongside my groceries) and more and more people are relying on convenience foods. The self-sufficiency of our grandparents' time is long gone.
But another shift seems to be occurring. The current economic crisis means more and more people have less and less money to spend on foods. The local eating movement has gone from being a trend to a necessity as more people rely on farmer's markets and growing their own foods.
If you are one of those people who is making a move to local eating, then Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation is the book for you. This book will walk you through every single step of food preservation including buying in bulk, storing food, and technique. And even if food preservation doesn't seem like an option for you, this book still has some easy and necessary tasks that you can do to reduce your reliance on industrial agriculture.
This is a fascinating book. It begins with food storage which applies to everyone. Astyk covers the many reasons people need to have stocked food pantries and helps you examine your own life to find out what your needs are. I've always kept a little extra food on hand during the winter months just in case of a snowstorm, but this book has helped me to develop that a bit further.
I will admit there were times it was a little depressing to think about why I would possibly need to keep 60 pounds of oats on hand at all times, but Astyk provides a realistic view of why food pantries are important. Hurricanes, snowstorms, power outages, or job loss are all reasons why it is important to have extra food on hand.
The second half of the book goes into food preservation, the tools needed, the different techniques, and how and when to preserve different food. In addition to this, Astyk includes various family favourite recipes using foods that are stored and preserved.
I can pretty much guarantee that after reading the first few chapters of this book you will already be clearing space in your cupboards and making a list of foods to stock up on. Don't worry if it seems as though it will cost a lot of money, Astyk gives you some tips on how to stock up on the cheap.
There is something for everyone in this book. You don't have to live on a farm or have a large plot of land to have need for this book. I live in a high-rise in the city and I have walked away from this book with many tips and ideas. I may not end up in my kitchen making jam or pickling vegetables but I definitely feel as though I have begun to take charge of my own food security.