Book Review – The Post Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook


By Alicia Bay Laurel
February 18, 2007

For many years, friends, fans and even publishers have been asking me for another Living on the Earth. I really, really wish I could have accommodated them. The truth is that I haven’t been living communally in an ecovillage, nor have I really been keeping up with innovations in sustainable technology and permaculture. I’ve been recording and performing original music, caring for my elders in a big city, and writing/illustrating other things that are closer to my actual experience.

Happily, the person most qualified to write the new Living on the Earth has stepped up and written it. That would be Albert Bates, a founding member of the Farm, which is the largest and most influential hippie commune ever, and also Director of the Global Village Institute for Appropriate Technology. He travels the world teaching sustainable design, natural building, permaculture and restoration ecology. He’s also argued cases before the Supreme Court.

Like Living on the Earth, The Post Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook (New Society Publishers, 2006) is eclectic. It can scare the bejesus out of you with worst case scenarios, and then invite you into the kitchen to sample grasshopper quesadillas (if you don’t have one hundred grasshoppers, you can substitute locusts, crickets, or corn smut).

Albert’s definitely written more of a guy book. He explains with charts how to build things like root cellars, dehydrators, solar cookers and composting systems (now, that’s my kind of Prince Charming). He lists what you need in your fallout shelter (I’m pleased to report that musical instruments are included). And he envisions as a benefit of the post-petroleum age, the opportunity for “creative loafing” including “leisurely love-making.” (Yes!)

You and everyone you know definitely need this book. Hopefully later rather than sooner, but it’s never to soon to be prepared.

Listen to a radio interview with Albert Bates on NPR.