Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
|By Jenna Woginrich|
If you’re the first of your friends to move to the country, get some chickens and plant an organic garden there will be some inevitable social fallout. It’s not your fault, but you’re going to raise the eyebrows of some of your more cynical friends. While there are plenty of people out there excited about self-reliance, there are just as many folks jaded by the hype and greenwashing that society has been slinging at us ever since Al Gore shared his slideshow. As green living gets trendier, it can’t help but jump the shark. You just can’t blame people for rolling their eyes when oil companies air commercials about sustainability.
Around the time your coffee table starts to fill up with seed and hatchery catalogs you can expect the occasional jab for subscribing to the country cliché. The suspicious will cross their arms and peg you as just another converted-starry-eyed-back-to-the-lander. With an air of certainty and rib-nudging judgment, they’ll announce that at the end of all your dirty fingernails and feed sacks you’ll learn nothing that hasn’t been learned a million times before. That the merits of country living have already been printed in thousands of books, seen in endless movies, and are currently being spouted as gospel by hundreds of others just like you, probably even at the same farmers market. They’ll start doling out references from old episodes of Green Acres. There will be melting glacier jokes. You know the drill, you’ve been there. These otherwise wonderful folks will point their fingers at your western shirt and call you another sucker for the country life.
Here’s the thing. They’re right.
Of course they’re right. Agriculture isn’t exactly new to the scene, and deciding to turn your life from consumer to producer (even if it’s just a few gardens and some chickens) is a step taken by throngs before us. There is nothing new, or special, or innovative about it. The Simple Life has been experienced by humanity since the fertile crescent, was, well... fertile. The results are ridiculously cliché. If you join the coverall club you’re not going to have any experiences that many of us haven’t already had, and will continue to have indefinitely. Sorry kids, this show is always a rerun.
But you know what I say to all this? So what. I mean isn’t that the point of all this? To get your hands dirty and join the secret society of tractors and baling wire? To be able to nod your head around the campfire when other gardeners talk about blight and potato beetles, and to learn the same sense of satisfaction of growing your own food? There is comfort in knowing you’re living a cliché. It means the results of the lifestyle are so stereotypical they’re guaranteed. And while it may not be clever — it’s clear that there are a reason some clichés stick around. Some are good enough to be true. Roll your eyes all you want son. This stereotype’s got some eggs to collect.