This book is an excellent resource. It is both well-organized and thought provoking – and it really explains things at the right level of detail. (For me, this means a lot of detail.)

Self Sufficiency for the 21st Centuryprovides lots of ideas on how to lead a simpler and greener lifestyle. For more than a year, Andrea and I have been looking into ways to minimize our carbon footprint and to lead healthiers lives. This book gave us many fresh ideas and instructions on things that we’ve always wanted to do – like making our own cheese from scratch! (I tried it and it works, although I had to read between the lines on some of the instructions). We plan to try out many ideas from the book, including
(1) making our own coldframe storage to stretch out the vegetable-growing season,
(2) building a goedesic dome for greenhousing various plants,
(3) growing mushrooms on a mushroom log, and
(4) building a solar water heater.

Some may find some of the material in this book a little too extreme. For example, there are step-by-step instructions on how to kill your own chickens by stretching them out and snapping their necks. Like many of you, I’m not sure we’re ready for this one just yet. Still, although it made me feel a little queasy, it also made me think seriously about how much more respect I would have for animals if I had to kill my own food. As a nation, I think we would eat much less meat if we really connected the dots on how it came to be on our plates. (BTW, if you’re interested in cutting back, check out our previous post on becoming a flexitarian.)

Reading Self Sufficiency for the 21st Centurybrought to light our general disconnectedness to producing and sharing the things we need. In a sense, I think we’ve stopped thinking and feeling about the important things in life. We go to work each day and we come home with a paycheck. We then use that paycheck to buy groceries and pay for heat and all of the other things we need, but we don’t really think of this paycheck as a substitute for growing our own food or making our own heat. I remember Andrea saying once: “we are so far removed from our basic needs, we don’t always know what’s important anymore”. This book helped us re-connect.

Andrea and I would like to give a little more attention to protecting the things we care about: our kids, our health and the environment. We’ve realized that our lifestyle choices have not always been in line with this goal. We think this book is a great reference in our quest to make the world a better place – one small change at a time. We hope that it helps you too.


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