As we were writing about Occupy Wall Street and We Are the 99 Percent, Cara de Silva sent us a compelling and very timely story she spotted in the New York Times. “Back to the Land, Reluctantly” by Susan Gregory Thomas, is about how the 42 year-old Brooklyn mother of three, having found herself divorced, flat-broke, with a dwindling livelihood, figured out how to “live off the land” from her urban garden and kitchen. “Luckily, my late father hammered into me that grit was more important than talent…I figured, if peasants in 11th-century Sicily did all this, how hard could it be?”
It was survival, not any particular love of artisan cheese or the notion of self-sufficiency, that motivated her to learn how to raise chickens, grow vegetables and herbs, make her own granola, bread, perfume and cleaning products, harvest edible weeds, and stretch a single piece of cheap meat into a week’s worth of dinners, until she discovered she could and her family could live on $100 a week.
IT is a lot of work. You have to be organized and able to improvise on your feet. But, frankly, it’s awesome. Before we embarked on this Waldenesque life, the only thing I had ever used my hands for was picking up a book or typing on my keyboard; today, my family and I are living our own scrappy take on President Obama’s promise of “Yes, we can!”
Even if things turn around financially, I don’t think I could stomach going to Whole Foods (except maybe for olive oil) because my biggest revelation in terms of self-sufficiency is this: It is no big deal. You can tell yourself anything is too difficult, or you can just do it. And you do not need to reconstruct your worldview or take issue with others.
You just need to be hungry.
We especially love the sidebar of Tips for Frugal Living, which include such useful bits as Infinite Pesto (made with just about any green you have on hand); What To Keep In Your Pantry; How to Make Beans Last Three Days; Lovely Scents; and What To Splurge On.