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Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front


Why are so few peak oil authors women? There's been much debate about this, and no one has yet arrived at a definitive answer. But whatever the reason, Sharon Astyk has established herself as a true rarity within the peak oil community by virtue of being a woman who has chosen to write about peak oil. The perspective she offers is thus both uncommon and vital.
In Depletion and Abundance, she shows how rewarding life on her New Home Front could be, immeasureably improving our ...

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Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front

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Why are so few peak oil authors women? There's been much debate about this, and no one has yet arrived at a definitive answer. But whatever the reason, Sharon Astyk has established herself as a true rarity within the peak oil community by virtue of being a woman who has chosen to write about peak oil. The perspective she offers is thus both uncommon and vital.
In Depletion and Abundance, she shows how rewarding life on her New Home Front could be, immeasureably improving our health, nutrition, sense of community and overall well-being. Chief among its benefits would be all the extra time that we'd have. She points out that people in medieval times worked far fewer hours than Americans do today, and that most people in modern-day peasant societies also work less hard than we do.
This, along with Astyk's unique perspective as a woman, a mother and a peak oil activist, makes Depleiton and Abundance well worth a read. The ring of authenticity to her writing will hook you - while its relaxed style, ineffable humor, personal anecdotes and comforting touch will soothe your melancholy peaknik soul like a warm hand on the shoulder.
Reviewed by Frank Kaminski, Energy Bulletin

Sharon's introduction is pricelss in its succinct, dead-on analysis of collapse, and is reason enough to buy and send this book to everyone you know who is partially or completely clueless about where we're headed. "When I realized that everything was going to change, I was at first afraid. Because I thought, if my government or public policy or other choices weren't going to fix everything, what could I possibly do? What hope was there, if I had to take care of myself, if my community had to take care of itself?
But when I began looking for solutions that could be applied on the level of ordinary human lives, that involved changes in perspectives and pulling together, the reclamation of abandoned ideas and the restoration of strong communitites, I began to feel hopeful, even excited. Because I realized that when large institutions cease to be powerful, sometimes that means that people start being powerful again."

Depletion and Abundance
is not a feel-good book, but it is intensely human, compassionate, supportive, pracitcal, alarming, enlivening, and astonishingly accurate.
Reviewed by Carolyn Baker,

OK, quick check: everyone who is concerned about the economic crisis turning into a depression and causing food and fuel prices to rise and pockets to empty - whether for yourself, your parents, your children, your neighbors, your friends, or anyone - raise your hand. That covers just about everyone, doesn't it? Almost every conversation I've had recently with different people lately has touched on the economy and people's fears about what this situation means. Astyk knows she's covering a lot of territory to bring many people up to speed on the various causes behind our current crisis. Her research and thoughtful insight in discussing peak oil, climate change, and the economy are on target too.We may be headed into difficult times - and heaven knows, if you read only Astyk's first chapter, you might find yourself too depressed to go on --but ultimately we still retain the ability to choose a certain aount of independence. We can invest our time and our work in the sustenance of our selves, our families, and our communities, and we can begin to build a more sustainable economy. Sharon Astyk's book gives us the hope and the inspiration needed to take that step.Reviewed by Jennifer M, The Ethicurean

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
  • 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.

Sharon Astyk is a former academic who farms in upstate New York with her husband and four children. She also raises livestock, grows vegetables, and writes about food and peak oil. (Check out her blog—

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865716148
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2008
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 801,113
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet 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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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     xiii
Where Are We?     1
Getting Out the Boats: A Primer on Hard Times     3
Time to Get Out Our Boats     3
Facing up to the Future     5
Hurry Up, Please; It's Time     9
Defining Our Terms     10
With What Will We Fix It, Dear Liza, Dear Liza?     17
Actions as Activism: The New Home Front and the Riot for Austerity     19
The Riot for Austerity     19
On the New Home Front     22
Reconsidering Public and Private     24
Women's Work and Political Power     26
The Political is Also the Personal     30
The Power Lines     30
Coming Together on the Home Front     33
The Church Model of Community Building     36
Time to Pick Up Your Hat     39
Pick Up Your Hat     39
Feels Like I'm Dyin' From that Old Used-to-Be     43
The Long-Term Problem of Technological Solutions     45
Not the End of the World     48
The Theory of Anyway     49
Money Changes Everything     53
Meet the Real Economy     55
Confronting the Real Economy     55
Self-sufficiency as theOpposite of Poverty     58
Peasant Economics for Everyone     61
Digging for Dollars     63
Making Ends Meet     73
The Problem of Consumption     73
Use-What-You-Have Adaptation     74
Get Out of Debt     76
Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do or Do Without     77
Hang On to Your House     79
Real Family Values - Facing the Future Together     85
Talking Population With the Old Men     87
Why Bring Up Population?     87
Trusting Women     89
The Limits of I=PAT     90
Understanding the Demographic Transition     93
The Tragedy of the Bathroom     100
The Permaculture of Family     107
Home Economics and the "Mommy Wars"     107
Husbanding Our Resources     118
This is the Way the World Ends... With Your Brother-in-Law Sleeping on Your Couch     121
Raising Kids in a New World: Family Life and Education     127
I Don't Know How She Does It!     127
Toys are Not Us     128
Childhood in a Changing World     132
School and Energy     135
Home Economics, Home-Land Security     143
Little House in the Suburbs     145
Home is Where You are Now     145
Staying Put     151
Buy or Rent?     154
Where to Live?     155
Sufficiency Plan for a Suburban Home     160
The Beauty and Necessity of the Low-Energy Home     165
Why the Lights Go Out and What to Do About It     165
What Life in Our Low-Energy Home Looks Like     173
Food and Health: The New Basics     179
The Bountiful Home: Grow and Preserve What You Need     181
The Crazy Lady and the Garden     181
The Bull's-Eye Diet     186
How to Start Your Garden     193
Squirrel Time     194
The Hand that Stirs the Pot, Rules the World     197
It's All About Food     197
Getting Over Picky     198
Food Preservation and Democracy     203
Frugality, Economy, Preparedness     206
How to Eat Cheap     209
Health Care     213
Public Health     213
The Myths of Medicine     215
The Costs and Benefits of Modern Medicine     218
Why Health Care Should Be at the Center of Things     219
The Most Bang for the Health Care Buck      221
The Beginning and the End     225
Recompense     229
Abundance, Democracy, Joy     231
Scared? Duh!     231
Abundance     234
Am I Romanticizing Poverty?     236
The One Thing We Did Right     240
Things You Can Do to Get Ready for Peak Oil, Climate Change and Difficult Times     243
The Best Books About Nearly Everything     257
Index     267
About the Author     273
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