The Homesteading Hypocrite

The moment I launched this website I started down a path towards raw hypocrisy.

I had no idea at the time that this was what I was doing, and it certainly wasn’t my intention. Nonetheless, looking back over the past year+ of posting, it is clear that hypocrisy was inevitable.

I have these ideals, you see. And, if you are a regular reader, they are ideals you likely share:

  • Homegrown or locally produced, beyond-organic fruits and vegetables.
  • Humanely-raised meats and sustainable wild seafood.
  • Stewardship of home, health and land through responsible choices, day-in and day-out.
  • Support for small, independent businesses and alternatives to the market economy.
  • Stewardship of my family’s financial resources through frugality and creativity.
  • Increased self-sufficiency and the management of a productive home.
  • Sharing of information and building of community through this blog and other outreach efforts.
  • Total backyard (and frontyard!) vegetable domination.

Ideals are good, but life is messy. Life has a way of kicking ideals, and people who cling to them with too much rigor, in the balls.

It is a great irony that attempting to gas up and start a life of quiet, slow-ish contemplation and homegrown living is often a more exhausting, overwhelming, noisy and faster-paced task than we might like.

When the ideals of home-cooked, homegrown, earth-stewarding meals crash against the reality of chronic sleep deprivation and lives that are stretched too thin, take-out sushi in little plastic trays starts to look really fucking appealing. Six-thirty spicy tuna salvation, with a side of wasabi.

Sometimes Homebrew Husband picks up burgers or market sushi on the way home from work. Often this happens when I am hip-deep in my bliss, hands dirty in the garden, living life on garden time. I’m so busy growing our food I cannot be bothered to stop and actually cook some.

It happens.

It happens more that I’d care to admit, actually. And that’s where the hypocrisy comes in.

If I didn’t write about living life on garden time these inconsistencies wouldn’t be hypocrisies. I’d be quietly planting my broccoli and some part of me would be aware of the horrors of feedlot beef but I’d eat my feedlot beef burger anyway. These disconnects would be simple compromises.

But because I talk about how to grow your own food, run a productive home and cook the good stuff when you harvest it, that feedlot take-out burger is more than a compromise, it’s a failure.

It’s a failure when I see my recycling can full of those little black plastic trays and that fake plastic grass that comes with the take-out sushi.

It’s nagging guilt every time I buy a grocery item I could make myself, like beef jerky. It’s the conceit of an internal conversation rehearsing how I might justify that purchase, should I be caught.

I know this kind of thing is ridiculous. My readers wouldn’t want me saddled with the burden of upholding impossible ideals. But yet – and let’s be frank, here – no one reads this blog to learn about the mass market, entirely-non-grass-fed beef jerky I buy at Costco.

So we must admit, all of us, that there is a curated nature to the life-on-garden-time image.

This doesn’t bother me. It is good for us to seek out education and amusement that is inspiring, and that helps us achieve our own garden-time goals.

Besides, I enjoy writing articles that inspire readers to lift a shovel and grow a plant. I enjoy a good food politics rant now and again. I hope my readers come away from my how-to posts thinking they-can. That is the point of this whole sharing experiment.

And yet I fear that I contribute to lifestyle dysmorphia and make myself a hypocrite in the process if I do not periodically remind you, gentle reader, that my life – and yours, I suspect – is a giant ball of compromises.

I see this issue as a sort-of Venn Diagram. Let’s assume – and in my experience this is a very safe assumption – that everyone compromises on something, sometime.

If this is the case, we have three choices:

  • Have ideals and stay silent. The repercussions of compromised ideals live only in your heart.
  • Have ideals and speak out about them publicly, while privately compromising. The image of indomitability is preserved, but now the repercussions of both compromised ideals and hypocrisy live in your heart.
  • Have ideals and speak out about them. When you compromise those ideals, speak out about that, too. Everyone will know that you are, for at least some small fraction of the time, a fraud. But you will be an honest fraud, honestly met. And if you are lucky – if I am lucky – a real conversation can begin.

Can we do this, friends? Can we get beyond the fear of others seeing us for the flawed and insufficient people we are and admit that sometimes just because we know better doesn’t mean we do better? Can our honesty convert hypocrisy to conversation?

Can we admit that in the great balancing game of life, sometimes things like sleep and sanity and not yelling at the kids win out over local, sustainable, frugal and organic?

Can we embrace the half-way path, the better-but-not-best-path, and be kind to each other and ourselves as we bumble through our own compromises?

Yes, I think we can.

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Comments

  1. This article is perfectly timed! I was just conversing with friends about this very issue this week. Thanks for the reminder that everyone makes compromises. I think the more open and honest we are about our compromises, the better off we’ll be. Also, when we DO have these conversations, interesting solutions come out for some of the tricky issues we face- I learned this week that there is a different natural meat producer in our area when I shared that I couldn’t afford to buy the organic grassed beef/pork that’s the standard supplier at our farmers’ market. I think part of it is being able to talk with real friends who won’t hear our compromises with judgement. Anyway, thanks!

    • This is truly an important evolution in the talk we had the other night Katie! I left the group feeling so much better about the ways I’m NOT meeting my ideals. Meaning, hearing so many stories of similar compromise and solutions removed a huge load of anxiety from my gut. Thanks for this wonderful post. It truly is through shared stories we create solidarity and a more caring and (yes) nonjudgmental culture.

  2. Love the Venn diagram! It makes things so clear! But of course, life isn’t always that clear — it’s not black and white (or in this case, green and orange and blue). There are some ideals that burn brighter, and some sort-of-important ideals . . . it’s that squishiness that allows us all to start sliding from one area in that picture to other areas without noticing. At any rate, thanks for being blue (I mean, for speaking out).

  3. It does not make you a hypocrite. It makes you real. We are real too.

    • Debbie M. says:

      Amen! We are human, after all, flawed and constantly striving mostly to be better. I have a passionm for and love to teach groups about canning. I can a lot for my family, whole meals in a jar. But now it’s just me and my husband, and my husband has deployed to Afghanistan. Some days I just don’t want to do the dishes that come with cooking for myself. Life and our own mind sets get in the way. Being aware is the first step, forgiving yourself when you fall short is the next one.

    • Exactly! We need to allow ourselves a healthy dose of forgiveness, while persistently striving to meet our ideals.

  4. I became vegetarian last year and it took some time getting used to it. I’m still getting used to it in some aspects. I feel guilty when I order something that ends up having meat in it (I forget all the time that sometimes beans will have bits of pork in them) and then I’m stuck with a: wasting food or b: eating some poor animal that who knows what living conditions it had. Usually I suck it up and eat most of what I can or hand it off to a omnivore to finish off.

    I can see some of this seeping into other aspects—like when I get really lazy and just really don’t want to rinse out something that is recyclable and it ends up in the trash instead. Or I toss something that should be composted into the garbage can.

    yeah…hypocrisy…but at least we’re trying!

  5. Jennifer J. says:

    Great post! I find myself hiding my compromises from even my closest friends and they probably do the same to me, which means there’s no honesty and no support and no reality… Geez. I’m going to start telling the truth! Also, can you talk a little bit about Costco and how that fits into your life. I’m really trying to save money on our grocery bills but, I haven’t gone to Costco yet. What do you buy there and how do you work that into your homesteading framework? Honestly.

  6. dr. dave says:

    I think the true hypcrisy is to know it’s wrong and not at least try to change it.
    I like your style, lady.
    Onward and hopefully upward.

  7. I think we all have these moments when we think we could be doing better, myself, included. I just try to tackle one new thing at a time to incorporate into my life and hope that one day, I’ll have a healthy/thrifty lifestyle down-pat. It is tough to make a home-cooked meal every day, so I cook/bake in bulk once a week and freeze my own convenience foods that can be consumed anytime. I also keep in mind other busy families and sometimes when I cook in bulk, I invite others over to join me for a home cooked meal, much of it grown my own garden, to give them a break and they in turn, will invite me over occasionally, too.

    Just keep striving to do better and don’t sweat the small stuff if you have an occasional “lapse”! :-)

  8. This is of particular concern to me as a blogger. Do I share all the ways I have to compromise my hard line on a daily if not hourly basis? Is that of value to my readers? Or do I just look like a big fat fraud? And how does a visit to Panera for a cup of non-fair trade coffee and a little chit chat compromise my cred for all the millions of other ways I try and do? Its all shades of gray or blorgangey-green, as it were. Thank you for opening up the closet and rattling those skeletons arounds a little.

  9. I think that if you never fail, you’re probably not trying hard enough. Making a mistake is a sign that you’re learning, or at least haven’t completely mastered what you’re trying to do. I try to learn from mistakes, and let go of the shame of failing.

    • Anna, I love that first sentence!

      Mistakes are part of learning, and any lifestyle change is a lifelong process. None of us will ever achieve 100% perfect compliance with our ideals because life (and especially time!) gets in the way. Yesterday I had homemade yogurt for breakfast with a kiwi delivered that morning by my CSA… and then I bought a frozen pizza on the way home from work and that was dinner. I make more of my own stuff (food and household products) now than I did a year ago, and hopefully next year I will be further along… but that was damn good frozen pizza and I will probably buy it again. So there. :)

  10. Hi, my name is Annie, and I’m a hypocrite.

    I let…no, suggested!…that my family eat at Burger King last night because we were away from home during the dinner hour (which somehow didn’t arrive until three hours after the dinner hour) and we were too tired to look for a better sit-down option, and I wasn’t prepared enough to feed us before going out, and didn’t have a freezer meal ready for when we got back, and didn’t feel like running outside to pick salad ingredients from our (90-degree heat in April!!) garden.

    I hated that I did it, but I chose to anyway. I’m hanging my head in honest shame. :(

  11. Lovely Post!
    Can I answer this in 2 parts? Thanks.
    Part 1:
    You have kids, that alone is a full time job. Bonus ruby crown for your head for that alone!
    It’s April – Crazy month, when there is so much to do, and only you can do it, and you would love to have everyone go away so that you can just get on with it.
    Life is busy messy. Sometimes we have to compromise, and we shouldn’t have to beat ourselves up for it.
    Who cares what other people think? You are only required to live your life, no one else’s.
    You are a delight and I SO missed the week that you were off, because I look forward to your posts.
    Life isn’t perfect, it is full of compromises and the few people out there that rain down judgment on others for such “imperfections” usually have so many sticks up their arses that it’s a wonder they can even walk. To them (and to that inner voice) I say: “go f*&$k yerself”.

    Part 2: Could you please re-post this every April and May? The 2 months when it gets so crazy and every muscle aches and I’m too tired to cook and the house looks like a hoarder’s Special and so much is going on and I want to move 10 more plants before it gets to be too warm and it feels like I’m spending my entire life spreading mulch and the weeds (despite mulching) are coming up thick and Monday I have vein surgery and won’t be able to garden for a week and 10 yards of soil will be delivered today at 1:30 and I have to move 3 yds of stuff before they get here but it’s raining and they just regraded the driveway and he’s gonna mess it all up with his big truck and I just want to take a bunch of Advil and go back to bed and I feel so blessed to even be able to afford to have these problems, and yet….that voice in my head is asking for perfection.
    In England, when you are learning to drive (on the wrong side of the road) i.e. tourist, they have you put a large “L”: in the back window so that everyone will know that you are a “learner” and will cut you some slack and give you a bit more space. Over here, the big “L” stands for loser, but either way works for me. I’m gonna get a big L tat for my forehead, as a reminder to me and everyone around me to step the f off a bit and cut me some slack. Some times there are just too many notes in this song, and it’s hard to dance to.
    Bitch session out!

    In closing:
    Keep on keepin’ on sistuh from another mistuh, Yerdoin’ just fine.

  12. Thanks for posting this! I teach yoga and sometimes feel like a hypocrite when all my actions don’t represent “yogic” ideals. Yes, I did enjoy a cheeseburger from Five Guys last week. And I tried really hard not to think about the poor cow that was likely mistreated so that the burger industry could profit. When I told my dad about Food, Inc. and that I want to raise backyard chickens for eggs, he told me that someday I need to start being practical.

    For me, my struggle is feeling empowered by knowledge about these issues, but powerless to actually do much with the knowledge (other than recognize my own shortcomings). But, a little good is more than none, I suppose. And it adds up.

  13. Glad to hear your honesty! Feeling the same – as do the others responding to this. Life is a journey – sometimes we step in mud or do-do and sometimes we’re on the right road. We all keep working to be on the right road more than in the do-do.

    Hang in there!

  14. We all do the best we can. Each step can create a positive change. Don’t be discouraged. We all get tired. Really, really tired.

  15. Non-flawed people bore the crap out of me. That is why I’m so fun. HA! Anyone who doesn’t admit to being a hypocrite is automatically a hypocrite in my eyes. We’re human beings – we’re not perfect.

    And have you ever ordered real sushi (not take out) and had it come on an actual bed of grass? No? Me either. I can’t for the life of me figure out why they put that fake stuff in there!

  16. Life is a journey, not a destination. Do you eventually eat all the food you grow? Does it go to waste? No? Then I’d say you’re doing well. I have to remind myself that I’m doing the best I can at this time, and to move toward the life I want in small steps.

  17. Rebecca Dare says:

    Thank you for this honest post. Helps me stand away, a bit, from a sense of shame of not being all I think I should be.

  18. I completely understand where you are coming from. I write a blog (insert shameless self-promotion here), http://www.facingyourfood.blogspot.com, to inform the general public about the ills of factory farming and the benefits of buying local, organic meats and produce. I feel incredibly guilty any time I buy convenience foods or find myself in the drive-thru line. I do try to be honest in my blog about my shortcomings. Changing our food system here in this country is going to have to be done incrementally, there is no other way to do it… so, I try to keep the perspective that I’m moving in the right direction (and possibly helping others to do so as well?). And even when I can’t be perfect and always do what I believe is best, at least I can make the right decisions more often than not! So, that is the reasoning that keeps me sane! :)
    Keep up the great work! I love your blog, you have a great sense of humor and as a relatively new gardener… I benefit greatly from your experience and expertise!

  19. I can totally relate! In our year without groceries I was told that we were misleading because we didn’t grow everything we ate, even though I never claimed that. I tried to be as honest as possible (yes we bought food from farmers when we needed to) but it didn’t stop people from accusing us of being frauds.

  20. great post, Erica. i have recently found myself in an enormous amount of stress and consequently stopped blogging because i felt i didn’t have much to add to the conversation right now. i’ve had to turn to a life of convenience just to get by. i shop at trader joe’s and buy many a packaged item, it’s april and the garden lies fallow, the animals are being cared for on a most basic level, and i’ve had to get rid of my bees. at an all-time low, i’ve found myself eating boxes of cheez-its and *gasp* smoking (i don’t drink and i needed a vice). the tale of my chicken stealing a cigarette from my hands and running around the yard with it dangling from its beak probably would have plummeted me from the esteem of my readers faster than a goat can figure out how to escape from its pen. but damn, did that feel good to get off my chest :)

  21. Well, I suppose it needs to be said on occasion so we don’t all start assuming that bloggers have it all together. I have my husband bring home take ‘n’ bake pizza on occasion so I don’t have to cook, and yesterday isn’t the first time I found some homemade soft cheese getting super-icky in a yogurt container and just tossed the whole thing instead of scraping out the mess and washing the container so I could recycle it (because that smell never comes out of the plastic). I don’t feel terribly guilty about it though. The amount of outside food I buy, and the amount of garbage we produce now is so much smaller than it was a few years ago, even with the occasional indulgence, and if that is what it takes to keep us all moving forward rather than giving up and going back, I say it’s worth it.

  22. Love this post. I was just talking to a group about being called a hypocrite for not meeting other peoples idea of what a green or sustainable lifestyle is and the back lash of others being defensive because they aren’t on the same path.

    I’m a big believer that sustainability is a journey not a destination and every jouney starts with a single step. You may take a detour or stop for a break, but as long as you keep moving however slowly toward the goal you are making progress. I love the quote don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress.

    I figure my lifestyle was on a path of world destruction and inevitable health consequences for me and my family, so even being less bad is good for me. I have made some great progress, but I don’t beat myself up for stopping at Mc D’s for breakfast on the way to a 65 mile bike ride. I need balance and I need to be realistic. I know the evils of factory farms and I don avoid tortured food as much as is practical, but sometimes I need just need a break. It can be very daunting to do great all the time.

  23. I am afraid I don’t see the hypocrisy. Your little blurb under your picture says “How self sufficient can a family be on one-third of an acre in suburban Seattle? Where is the right balance between living cheap and living well?” You never claim to be 100% self sufficient. You are just giving an example of that balance between living cheap/living well and for this day, that balance includes sushi that you did not fish for, slaughter, roll and plate. You found your balance for this day.
    We are not gods. And quite frankly, you could not be entirely self suffucient on 1/3 of an acre in WA. You still need things grown/manufactured on land outside of that 1/3 acre. And, (I am just north of you) frankly, unless you have a heated greenhouse or are into indoor hydroponics, you dont get enough heat/warmth for many of the subtropical things. You will never be able to grow an orange outside in WA, maybe a pawpaw instead of a banana, but certain things will just not make it here.(But then, maybe you never have any citrus juice in your family?)
    I see no hypocrisy here, just a journey striving for ideals.

  24. Your list of ideals is refreshing to see in print and to recognize myself in them. I would have to add one of my ideals which makes all the others a little harder. Long ago I became enamored of the idea of gracious living. You can interpret that any way you want to, but for me it means things like ironed napkins, a clean house, an uncluttered garden and the occasional dinner party with wonderful food. All of this needs to seem effortless and unrushed. I have to constantly remind myself of the old saying that the perfect is often the enemy of the good and decide that good enough allows me to continue to persue the ideal.

  25. I catch myself doing the same thing, calling myself lazy when I am too tired to cook and heard out for take out or use a box cake instead of pulling out all the ingredients to make the homemade version. My friends remind me that it is all about balance and life happens. We do so much for the planet and our communities so we need to remember to be gentle on ourselves. We are reducing our footprint and the others that we pass our knowledge onto. I think you are amazing and please be kinder to yourself, you have earned it. ;-)

    • I sometimes ask myself when the self talk turns south, “Would you talk to a friend like that? Would you talk to your daughter like that?”

  26. Erica,
    Having ideals and doing your best is a good thing! Don’t beat yourself up over the times you fail; pat yourself on the back for the times you succeed. If I may make a suggestion on the “what’s for dinner; I’m too tired to cook” subject … freezer/do ahead meals. I’m doing more of these for the times that I spend the day hauling dirt in the garden and am too sore and tired to cook by the time dinner time arrives. I’v started a series of them on my blog; also Google freezer meals. I’ve found some good ideas and then adjust the ingredients (organic, low fat, etc) to fit our diet. Are you on Pinterest? I have a board there with links to some good recipes.
    Hugs,
    Deb

  27. “I’m so busy growing our food I cannot be bothered to stop and actually cook some.”

    Indeed. We have experienced this many times. A quick fritatta is often the rescue meal. For Earth’s sake woman, you are only human. Relax, you’re doing an awesome job.

  28. I’m totally in the camp of “do what you can, when you can and when you can’t do what gets you through” and always fess-up, otherwise you’re not kidding anyone but yourself.
    Great read : )

  29. Having to compromise on your ideals does not make you a hypocrite, it simply makes you human… and hey, since the rest of us are human, too, welcome to the club! : ) So glad PunkDomestics shared your post on Facebook, I prefer to follow real people rather than perfect one.

  30. Good post. I think about this a lot in my own life. If we all accept that we are all doing the best we can – wherever we are in the journey, that’s what matters. Perceived hypocrisy isn’t so much an issue for me as the people who are dogmatically self-righteous about their choices.

  31. Wonderful post that I can relate to on many levels.

    I write about many of the similar things and make similar choices. I know that I can’t live up to my own ideals – trying to live up to others view of them is all but impossible. But that’s not their fault – I chose to post, to share, and to be part of that impression. Once we put ourselves in the public forum I suppose we invite that feedback.

    What I adore about your post is the consciousness you have around the disconnect. We are all hypocrites in many facets of our lives. Being aware of those faults is the first step to rectify – either our behaviour or address the ideal and see if it is realistic.

    The neat thing about a project like yours is the ability to look back, over time, at where you where and reconcile it with where you are. I still make bad decisions and find those shortcuts at times – but they are radically different comprimises than I made a year ago or even more. I suspect you’ve been through a similar experience. We are all flawed – it’s part of who we are. But those who recognize and share their flaws are often in a journey of beautiful change.

    Thank you for writing this post, it’s simply wonderful.

    • This is so true. Ten years ago I would never have thought to think about these issues. In fact, ten years ago I’m pretty sure I thought GMO tomatoes were kinda nifty. We all start somewhere, and it is good when the road forward looks so long to look back over our shoulder and see how far we’ve already traveled.

  32. LOVE the Venn diagram, I am going to copy it and hang it on the wall.
    I am now 57 years old. I remember the day I stood on a kitchen chair and literally threw everything away. I had read Sugar Blues, so out went everything with sugar. I had read Diet for a Small Planet…the children lived on eggs until I read Diet for a New America, then the eggs went. I remember my teenager sneaking milk and aspirin into the house ( the rebel ). Boycott signs were on the front door of our suburban home.
    Now, I am comfortable in my hypocricy. We are moving toward the simpler homesteading life we want, but there is also a bag of cheetos in my kitchen and a frozen cheese pizza in the freezer. We are still light years ahead of where we started, and we will continue to grow. Thank you for the support.

  33. I liked this post up until the end where you begin making excuses and validating your choices.

    Living a completely self sufficient lifestyle is not possible in our world. (Right now you are typing on a computer that you did not produce.) If you want to be part of the greater community consciousness everyone needs to be realistic. There is a difference between the impact one has to make and the one needs to make.

    Might I suggest that you work more closely within your community to find the means that you can not provide. Once you realize that you are not in this alone, that many others are also trying to survive, you will understand actually what community building is.

    In other words- you don’t need to grow it/cann it/ slaughter it/ make it/ all on your own. Concentrate on how you can provide. Take that out to the community that also is providing and share with them what you have.

    This is a big problem in our world today- not only do we think we can do it all on our own but we think we are better (and therefore hiding our flaws) then others.

    • “Once you realize that you are not in this alone, that many others are also trying to survive, you will understand actually what community building is. In other words- you don’t need to grow it/cann it/ slaughter it/ make it/ all on your own. Concentrate on how you can provide. Take that out to the community that also is providing and share with them what you have.”

      Respectfully, I’d point out that this blog is one giant record of what I share with an ever-growing and dynamic community on a near daily-basis. Sharing has many components, it’s not just bartering jam for backyard bunny meat.

      • I agree: Sharing has many components. But consider- “Think globally, act locally.” Patrick Geddes.
        Also don’t find my comment frustrating, rather find it constructive criticism: A means of humbling which is, in my opinion, the best way to approach your entire situation and most of life.

    • Might I suggest that you work more closely within your community to find the means that you can not provide. Once you realize that you are not in this alone, that many others are also trying to survive, you will understand actually what community building is.

      I suspect this might be easier said than done for many of us. If it weren’t for the online community, I’m not sure I’d have a community at all. I live in a large-ish city and know there are others like me, but for the most part they are not in suburbia where I am. My husband and I simply don’t know anyone else in real life who even comes close to embracing these kinds of ideals. Approaching a stranger (or a vendor) at the farmer’s market isn’t my style (I’m an introvert), and although my husband is more social in that regard, he’s not going to go to the farmer’s market or other such gathering because he’s too busy working in our own garden.

      All that to say I’m very grateful for the online community, even if we can’t share and barter tangible goods.

  34. Jeannie Van Popta says:

    Great piece. We have been eating 100% organic for years now which means no matter how hungry or how little ‘ready to eat’ food there is in the house there will never be fast food or restaurants again. NEVER. Unless an organic restaurant appears (hahaha). In this area we do not compromise, our daughter has to take her own snack everywhere and people think we are insane for turning down their ‘healthy apple slices’. How picky can we get? We now have goats for fresh raw milk. My husband works on an organic market farm, so that’s where we get all of our groceries. But I’m embarrassed to say that when I can’t find what I’m looking for at second hand or on online organic sites I go to places like Old Navy to buy my kids clothing. No one is perfect, no matter how hard we try. BUT we HAVE to keep trying. Every dollar we spend counts as a vote. Every penny.

  35. thank you so much for sharing, for so long now i thought i was the only costco shopping urban homesteader :)

  36. I will say right now that I ate a cheeseburger and fries at the In-N-Out just last week.

    I agree that this doesn’t make you a hypocrite–it just makes you a normal, fallible person who is trying their best to live on their own terms in a culture that not only makes all kinds of easier but worse options available but also flashes them in your face via advertising all the time. Wow, run-on sentence! Seriously–it’s difficult to fight against the prevailing culture, even when it’s so important personally. We’re all doing our best, and that’s ok. The important thing is to keep fighting.

  37. Wow! Darling! You are being WAAAYYYY too hard hard on yourself! Who told you you had to be perfect when you made a decision to try something? Failure is not trying at all! Strict adherence to lofty, self-imposed ideals only closes minds and creativity (and leads to stress and judgements!–especially of yourself!). So no more beating yourself up about hypocrisy and failure and just enjoy the moments–good and not so good–that are making up your life right now! So cuddle your kids and go sit in your garden for a few moments not thinking about what you need to do next but thinking about the amazing creative forces of life you have planted!

  38. Tanaya Ropp says:

    I’m torn about posting this because of the preachy nature and most of it comes down to semantics.

    1st. I have never heard you say an unkind word about people who do not have the same ideals or values. In my opinion only people who judge others in that manner would be hypocritical.

    2nd.I had a very wise man once tell me that if you live to today better than you lived yesterday and strive to live tomorrow better than today then you are on the right track. He also said if you accept others flaws you need to accept your own.

    3rd. I used to cook for a day eat for a month before my children could cook. but I love Taco Tuesdays. So now matter how you slice it I’d be a hypocrite to0, I just don’t sweet it any more.

  39. we have a similar situation here since we run a small farm and seem to be working constantly. i don’t think of all those issues as hypocritical, though. there’s only so much that you can do with your time and your money, and we spend so much time working on positive things that if i end up drinking a soda or eating something not organic every once in awhile, i really don’t care. you can only do your best. “Can we admit that in the great balancing game of life, sometimes things like sleep and sanity and not yelling at the kids win out over local, sustainable, frugal and organic?” — i think that sleep, sanity, general peace around the household, should always- 100% of the time- win out over ideals. I just try to be aware of everything- like, if I find myself getting take out more often than i’d like, i try to figure out why it is that i’m too busy to cook for myself, and adjust my schedule accordingly to balance the priorities (since I’d prefer to cook for myself). Important to know your own limits and all…

  40. I know the feeling, thanks for articulating it so well!

  41. Great one! Feel the paradox every day…

  42. LadyBanksia says:

    So here’s my take on this stuff – its a bit broader-scoped than the ‘criteria’ of how people are ‘measured’ (read ‘judged’) by others, both on the little things and the big things.

    Yes, people follow their dreams, or at least try to. We shift our thinking, we change our habits, we tweak our lifestyles to fit whatever ‘persona’ we might want. I’ve done it so many times myself, I’ve lost count: I tried vegetarianism (3 yrs worth), but I am one who was meant to eat a little meat once in a while. I endeavored to make ALL of my holiday gifts one year…. that lasted exactly one month (at least it was August, not November…I still had time to recover), not even the one holiday season. I dream about leaving a light imprint on the earth I love by recycling everything I can, I vermi-post and regular compost for my raised beds of veggies, but you know what? I wanna travel, too – Alaska, Fiji, Costa Rica, St. Lucia, and New Zealand; and we all know how carbon-negative air travel can be.

    But the constant that I find in all of it is – you will live the life you were meant to live, because its about balance. It will be a direct result of your efforts and focus, as well as it will be indicative of who you are, truly. My life has been full of ‘full-circle moments’ where things are starting to click in my head about why I do what I do, and why the things that matter to me really do. They come from what I knew as a kid and how I was raised. I grew up on a farm and it had such a profound effect on me.

    But – I now live in a decent-sized city, which is so contrary to the ideals that I hold close and continue to dream about. I have become somewhat lazy and accustomed to a bit of the convenience that city living brings. My apologies for that, but when it came to prioritizing my many facets a long time ago, there were three things that set themselves far and away above all else – the members of my family – hubby and at the time, two youngin’s. The ones who actually hadta live with me, put up with me, and eat the food that I provided. They have witnessed my rants when the weeds overtook the veggies because I didn’t pull them, they accepted (I think secretly applauded) it when chicken appeared on our table again when they thought we were all ‘veggies’, and so on. But now, Hubby has mellowed too and the youngin’s are all grown up, but they are the ONLY ones that whose thoughts of me matter to me. The nice thing is that they know me, and I hope – love me – for my flaws, and they are the ones who will be there in the end.

    I envision my life to be one of reason, sense, and function; whether I grow my own food, or buy it on the way home, or drop 300 bucks at Costco, I choose not to fight the encroaching tide of judgment from today’s society every single moment on every single front – ’cause I just don’t have it to do. If that makes me a hypocrite, so be it. The next time someone’s body language speaks just so when I ask for paper bags at the store because I’ve forgotten to bring in the re-usables from the car, they’ll get an earful as to why. Or, better yet, I won’t waste my precious time – I’d rather pull weeds.

    Thanks for listening – sometimes, readers need to rant, too. (I know, then get my own blog, right?)

  43. I have seen photos of the joy on your kids faces out in the garden with you! Or just recently holding a prize cauliflower! that is the litmus paper test. honestly. Dreams and ideals are there to pull us forward – sometimes we don’t achieve 5%, sometimes we achieve 100%, but it is the movement forward that is important. You are doing a great job, and I love to follow along with your successes and/or failures. Congratulations on a great blog!

  44. Gregory Dahl says:

    Well, Erica, so you feel like a Homesteading Hypocrite because once in a while you eat take-out sushi or a fast food hamburger. I have two comments: 1. Get over it. Nobody is perfect. 2. I’ve known you for a long time. You have always been your own toughest critic.

    The reality of your life, as I have observed it with some interest, is that you manage a home, two beautiful children, a husband, a garden, a blog, a large network of friends and family, and an exceptional commitment to healthy, home-grown food and you manage all these “balls in the air” with beauty, grace and kindness. You almost never drop a ball.
    In baseball a 300 hitter is considered pretty damn good. But a 300 hitter does not get a hit 7 out of 10 times at bat. In your world, Erica, you are hitting way over 300, more like 998, so don’t sweat the 002.
    I want you to know that in many ways you have become a hero to me and I only wish I could write half as well as you do on a daily basis. You are exceptional. Give yourself a break.
    I love you. I’m very proud to be,
    Erica’s Dad.

    • >lol< I was just reading all the nice comments and kept thinking 'the world isn't perfect and neither are we. Erica is no Hypocrite!' and then I read the last comment and her dad is telling her 'Nobody is perfect-get over it' Erica listen to your Dad!
      A hypocrite would be someone that talks the talk but does not walk the walk and you are not like that. You do believe what you telling your community and just because you can't live up to the standards you set for yourself doesn't mean you failed your standards, not as long you follow those most of the time . You are doing the best you can under your circumstances, that's all we can do.
      I also think it's a lot harder to follow all these ideals living in the modern world then it would have been 100 years ago. There is a lot more to keep track off, a lot more a lot more choices to make and we all have a lot more stuff, more clothes, more machines, more of everything. And we live in the midst of this crazy, modern world. It's just not that easy to be living a 100% self sufficient, environmental, humanistic life in this world.
      Every-time I have to throw something into the garbage can, I know would have been recycled in my home country of Germany, it pains me seeing it go to the land fill but what can I do? Nothing, really……I already stopped buying most packaged stuff that can't be recycled and I try to reuse as much I can, but unfortunately they just don't recycle very much in the US and they use way to much packaging. Does that make me a hypocrite because I throw stuff in the garbage even I say it doesn't belong there? I do the best under my circumstances and the proof is when I look at my neighbors 'twice the size' garbage can that overfills every week, while I have the smallest size and only half full most of the times.
      So just keep doing what your doing and then enjoy your Sushi!

    • Thanks Dad. :)

  45. Love the Venn Diagram. This is a really similar conversation I have with people about parenting. We are none of us perfect, and we are only human. But yet we are loathe to talk about the truth and be honest with each other … “What will others think of me?” I strive to be honest with other parents, and so often I get a huge sigh of relief and then the floodgates of conversation open. And you know what? We can then help each other reach our ideals, with ideas, tips and simple listening.

    Great post.

  46. It is hard, yet the longer I do it the easier it gets. The longer I go without restaurant food the easier it is to just go in the kitchen, cook up whatever I just harvested and dig in. Even if it’s just 10 oz of snow peas. ;-) Oh no, that was breakfast the other morning ;-) We are not perfect and I don’t think of the homestead lifestyle/ ideal as being a destination so much as a journey…. I love to constantly challenge myself to see how much better I can do next month. If I’ve fallen off the path I just pick myself up and dust off my butt and get going again.

    BTW I’ve really enjoyed the Urban Farm Handbook, thank you again.

    And another aside; After the weather cools off in the fall I start making extra large batches of beans and soups and then can them in pints and half pints. That way when life is crazy and I don’t have time to cook I can just grab one and toss it in my lunchbox. The weather is cooler then so I don’t mind the extra heat in the kitchen and with cooler weather and shorter days the garden is a lot less intense too.

  47. along with everybody else here – i can empathize. but unless we live in an ideal world, we can’t live ideally. the way the world is constructed doesn’t allow us to live perfectly and it demands certain behavior that we may not feel comfortable giving… there are moments when the take-out sushi is the best possible option. and power to us. because in speaking out about this issue, along with the stuff that really matters to us – ie growing own food, etc… – is what builds community and really challenges the capitalist, corporate, mainstream system. it doesn’t want us to talk. but we are. and in that, we’re creating space and fighting back. even if we’re spooning grocery store spicy tuna in our mouths while we do it. hypocrisy & contradictions are how we have to get along in this current moment. good on ya, sister.

    ps. dont eat the spicy tuna… i read once that it’s got the spicy sauce on it because it masks the fact that its going bad. i wouldn’t want you to get fish/seafood poisoning!

  48. Well said! Honesty is so important! Reality is a bitch! I don’t even have kids (well, two furry kids) and I STILL don’t always have time to get everything done in the day and manage to make a delicious and nutritious, sustainable, locally grown meal.
    Keep up the good work!

  49. Great blogging. Truthy. One of the compromises I’ve made recently is carrots. I’m growing a token amount for the kiddo to play with. Stepping back from planting a big crop and buying the big bag of organic carrots from…. you guessed it, Costco. Sleep deprivation is an awesome drug. Time budgeting is a moving target.

  50. You have chosen a path, and are living your ideals to the best of your abilities. Every day, remind yourself to feel proud of your work and your choices. I know many, many people who don’t think as deeply as you, and who don’t even see that they can choose a different path.

  51. Rhapsody says:

    I am so very glad to read this. I love the idea of an urban homestead, although I only have a few pots on a very tiny porch. When my husband and I buy our house I already have a wish list of fruit and berry trees, and plans for a rabbit warren. but i was a little scared about making that leap. Reading about someone actually living this life who still eats takeout now and again completely removes all apprehension I had! call it the best of both worlds. :)

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