Crunchy Granola, no…Granola Bar, maybe
I assume you are familiar with the idiom “crunchy granola”. This phrase is applied to individuals who adopt practices and lifestyle choices that might run counter to the capitalist consumer culture of the 21st century. Today I would like to propose an innovative, provocative socioeconomic theory–a theory I like to call The Theory of Granola Relativity. Let me break it down for you.
Crunchy Granola-ness exists on a spectrum and the perception of an individual’s granola-ness by outsiders is regionally specific. Allow me to elaborate.
I grew up in Texas. In Texas it doesn’t take much for a person to be labeled Crunchy Granola. Moving to Austin can get you that label. Filtering your water can earn you that title. Purchasing and consuming actual granola is even enough. Now my cousin and his wife live in Eugene, Oregon, and I went on a Fulbright with a teacher from Oregon. My impression is that Crunchy Granola is the mean in the state of Oregon. For example, recycling is readily available, there is a focus on public transportation, green spaces are preserved, Community Supported Agriculture is very popular, and Hemp as a clothing material is socially acceptable. Thus the various regions of the United States have different perceptions of and affinities for what I’ll call the granola lifestyle. And a person’s “granolaness” in one of these areas will be perceived differently depending upon how that granolaness fits in with the prevailing attitudes about granolaness in that community.
Let us, then, analyze the granolaness of Geoff and Lindsey McPherson. As I write this there is a Turkey roosting on the roof of my Toyota Camry. That sounds a little granola-ie. Now if we still had Geoff’s hybrid and I said, “There’s a Turkey roosting on the roof of our Hybrid Toyota Camry,” that would sound even more granola-ie.
When we lived in San Antonio we had a small electric composter in our kitchen. It could turn everyday household food scraps into rich garden supplements in a matter of days. Upon seeing our little electric composter nestled in the corner of our kitchen in SA when he visited from New York, my brother nearly laughed him self to death. In that moment, to him, we were as crunchy granola as if we had informed him that we were going to move into a yurt and make our own clothes out of spider webs.
Have I made my own crackers from scratch? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes. Granola-ie or not, it all depends. Let me provide some more examples. Since we moved to the farm Geoff and I have committed to not using harsh and toxic home cleaning products, therefore our dish soap, laundry soap, and household cleaners are either commercially produced, environmentally friendly products, or homemade, completely non-toxic products. Have I, without even being aware of it, fulfilled nine of the ten requirements to be a radical homemaker? Yes, yes I have. And does that make me a crunchy granola person? Maybe, at least in this area of the country, but if I lived in Washington state in one of the several communities that has committed to sustainability and fostering a local economy, I wouldn’t even be fit to carry their granola. More support for the idea that granola-ness is relative.
The other day as school I was using my spork (a reusable multipurpose eating tool) in an attempt to create a waste free lunch. Admittedly the spork does look a little funny since it is a three -in-one eating tool that looks like it should be paired with a sippy cup, but it is made of BPA free plastic and since I started using it I have eliminated the need for disposable plastic cutlery at lunch. My impression from the reaction of my colleagues is that the spork might be a little too granola-ie for this region. I can’t even imagine the reaction I will get when I bust out my reusable bamboo cutlery (they come with chopsticks). Nonetheless, moving toward a waste-free lunch is something that is important to me, regardless of where it falls on the granola spectrum.
I doubt Geoff and I will ever be completely Crunchy Granola. With Amish and Mennonite neighbors it is hard to compete. They are the OG’s (original granolas). Also, Geoff has a pretty severe addiction to soda, which means we will never be able to eliminate high fructose corn syrup, toxic BPA, or aluminum cans from our life. Fortunately, cans can be recycled.
When it comes down to it, I think we are more Granola Bar than Crunchy Granola. We do some things that are considered a little extreme by family and friends, but for the most part our environmental and social decisions fall within the spectrum of generally acceptable behavior.
I do look forward to the ways in which we will be moving in a more granola-ie direction in the coming months. By November our chickens will be producing eggs and we will no longer be dependent on buying eggs from the grocery store or neighbors. Large portions of our Thanksgiving meal will be the result of items we have grown or raised. One day, hopefully, more than just our electric fencing will be solar powered.
We’ve made a commitment to live simply so others can simply live. While that might seem granola-ie to some, it is a value centered in love and oriented against the exploitation of others. It is a nearly impossible commitment, but we feel like it is one of the kinds of commitments in life where even the attempt is worthwhile.