04 August 2011

Book Review: Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook by Peggy Layton

Quick review

Rating: 

Summary: If you're relatively new to preparedness, this is a great starting point. It may also be a good resource for those with some preparation underway, if only for reference and double-checking your plans. The half-star deduction is due to the inclusion of around 60 pages of "fill-in" charts in the middle of the book. Still, it's a steal for the price.

Full review

Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook didn't come to my attention until after I'd been seriously working on preparedness for several months. Because of that, I had worked out some things one my own, or had read some similar material for other books or online resources. But, when I started reading it, I recognized how it would have been useful to have from the very beginning.

The back of the book promises to teach the reader what preparedness is, and then how to economically plan, purchase, and store the necessary survival materials. Layton delivers on these goals and provides more.

The book's introduction starts off by very briefly discussing the things that threaten us, and then points out why preparedness is important, likening it to the peace of mind you get from having an insurance policy. (A nitpick is that putting this material in the book's introduction may make it likely for readers to skip over it.)

Chapter one discusses preparing for short-term emergencies, including the basics of creating an evacuation plan, putting together emergency 72-hour kits and car kits. Emergency communication, sanitation, utilities, and fuel are discussed later in the chapter, wrapping up with a good-sized section on alternative cooking.

The next short chapter focuses on storing water. It talks about how much water to store, how to store it, and how to sanitize and purify your water supply.

From chapter three on, the book focuses on food storage and use. These chapters start with showing how to plan your food storage, and also cover the economics, logistics, and acquisition of long-term food storage. Basically, they advise the reader on the philosophy of what kinds of food to store, how to cost-effectively proceed, and how to ensure that you maintain your food storage properly. The concluding chapter includes over 80 pages of recipes for using your stored foods.

A nice section listing a number of food-storage resources and a comprehensive index round out the book.

Layton's text is simple and direct, not too casual, but certainly not stiff at all. While it's not really humorous, the author doesn't use "doom and gloom" to frighten people into action. The tone is fairly light and pretty easy to read. And, although some "philosophy" of preparedness is presented, most of the text is practical advice.

The chapters are illustrated in a few appropriate places. Layton provides a number of checklists throughout the book, but especially for creating the kits and other planning covered in chapter one. It's clear that the book was intended to really be used as a handbook to be written in, because there are many blank tables for the reader to complete.

While I agree that such tables may be helpful for some readers, it seems that it would have been better to format the book differently to make them more useful. Specifically, a spiral binding would enable the book to lay flat and make it a bit more friendly to write in. Alternatively, making the book a bit larger might have helped slightly.

It's also worth pointing out that the food storage planning and calculation table in the middle of the book runs for over 50 pages! True, it is helpful to have such a table. However, it would have been possible to show how to calculate the required quantities and then provide a detailed, categorized list of food items to evaluate. This would have easily reduced the book's page count by a couple dozen pages, perhaps allowing room for other material or offsetting the cost for a spiral binding or larger book size.

That small criticism aside, I do recommend this book. Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook contains a lot of solid, useful material that is ideal for those just getting into their preparedness planning, but could also be helpful to those wanting checklists to be sure all of their bases are covered.

Plus, at the low price, it makes an excellent gift for close friends and family (remember, September is National Preparedness Month).

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