Have you ever wanted to skin a rabbit? Or make cheese? Perhaps that’s more self-sufficiency that you really want, but John Seymour’s The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It is still a guide that anyone can use if they wish to commit to a more simplified lifestyle.

This book has excellent sections on growing every vegetable or herb you could imagine. Seymour will tell you how to look after the apple tree in your back yard and the raspberry bushes you just planted. It was also from this book that I learned to make sugar from sugar beets. (Page 386)

The edition of this book that I have is beautifully made, having been originally published in 1976 and reprinted twice in other editions. My DK edition was published in 2018, with elegant woodcut illustrations and graphics. Also, this edition is forwarded by Alice Waters, the pioneer of the local food movement, who taught many their first lessons in local food and food self-sufficiency.

The first chapter of Seymour’s book is The Meaning of Self-Sufficiency. His philosophy of how the world could benefit from more self-sufficiency is thought-provoking. However, he is nonjudgmental toward those of us not quite ready for full immersion in a self-sufficient life. He encourages instead “a correct attitude to the land” (Page 18), recognizing our dependence on the land and that, as we use up the world’s resources, we will most likely be forced back to the land for food.

Having spent much of my life on or near farms, I agree that we need to support a strong local farming industry. Self-sufficiency would make us more resilient – and bring us closer to our neighbours.

Seymour does not mention community much in this book, but it is really all about community.

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