The Unconsumption, Unprocessed Movement: A lesson in small + the initiatives carrying the torch

I've been giving this whole Occupy Wall Street thing some thinking, especially as a beginning farmer, someone who believes in the power of the local food movement and as a person who stands in solidarity with those everyday radicals: small producers and homemakers.

I've seen this image floating around and re-posted around the Facebook-sphere over the last few weeks. And, as of late (i.e. ever since the birth of modern partisan politics), small business owners and producers have been used as pawns by politicans in their platforms. Besides a photo-op and a well-placed anecdote in a public speech, no one really talks about the real significance behind these small businesses, because, well, it's revolutionary and, perhaps, even threatening to how we view our economy. Supporting small businesses, especially local artisanal producers, means reviving, rebuilding and supporting our rural economies and not relying on such abstract and inefficent concepts like "free market," "globalization" and other macro jargon that simply goes unquestioned. These recent protests are a wake-up call as a nation that these generally accepted theories aren't perfect, don't work and shouldn't be the norm! The scale of these long-held operations is astronomical, and as we see, things can be too big to fail.

Ok, so now that I've gone on what some people may see as a socialist rant, let's talk about solutions. One of the most powerful ways to avoid big business, big ag and whatever else gives you the corporate heebie-geebies is to go small!

If you really don't want to be part of the fledging and failed economic and social model, support your local businesses, food producers and community members. It's not a radical notion, as many people having been living this way for centuries. We've unfortunately cast aside these ideals in the name of convenience. Recently, however, we've seen a homesteading, self-sufficiency revival, closely associated with growing awareness of economic uncertainty AND people who begin to question how they want to live their lives, what we consider work and the distinctions between work and home. Yup, good ol' fashioned DIY can be a money saver, make us feel more productive, fulfilled and - *gasp* - make us happier! Happiness? In our jobs and lives? What a novel idea!

And, while I could bore you with the details of my own life (working on a farm, making almost everything from scratch and how rewarding it is, blah, blah, blah...sickening, right?!) and more of my opining, here are some incredibly cool initiatives to help you think bigger by living smaller and more simply:

Join the movement! Take the challenge!

  • October Unprocessed by Eating Rules: Ok, so, yes, I should have posted this sooner, but it's never too late to take the guidelines posted by creator Andrew Wilder in his month-long eating challenge to simplify and unclutter your diet. A month of unprocessed - and delicious - food. Can you do it? If not a month, try a week, a few weeks, etc. A day even; think about it: Thanksgiving Unprocessed? Sounds totally feasible and fun!

  • Unconsumption: A Tumblr log of all things for the forward-thinking un-consumer in all of us. Check it out for unique ways to rethink about the things in your life, new ways to repurpose and reuse them and feel inspired. What it means to the site's creators: 
Even the Unconsumption logo has a story!
Unconsumption means the accomplishment of properly recycling your old cellphone, rather than the guilt of letting it sit in a drawer. 
Unconsumption means the thrill of finding a new use for something that you were about to throw away.
Unconsumption means the pleasure of using a service like Freecycle (or Craigslist, Goodwill, or Salvation Army) to find a new home for the functioning DVD player you just replaced, rather than throwing it in the garbage. 
Unconsumption means enjoying the things you own to the fullest – not just at the moment of acquisition. 
Unconsumption means the pleasure of using a pair of sneakers until they are truly worn out – as opposed to the nagging feeling of defeat when they simply go out of style. 
Unconsumption means feeling good about the simple act of turning off the lights when you leave the room. 
Unconsumption is not about the rejection of things, or the demonization of things. It’s not a bunch of rules.
Unconsumption is an idea, a set of behaviors, a way of thinking about consumption itself from a new perspective.
Unconsumption is free.
  • Buy Handmade: If you've run out of creative steam, at least buy gifts and other items from local artisans. The products will certainly be original and you can feel good about supporting these artisans. Your local farmers' market is a great place to look as well as from those crafters listed on Etsy and Foodzie.
  • Root Simple: "Root Simple is about back to basics, DIY living, encompassing homegrown vegetables, chickens, herbs, hooch, bicycles, cultural alchemy, and common sense." In other words, a fantastic blog for newbie homesteaders. And, creators Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen are doing the DIY thing in the heart of Los Angeles, so no matter what your location, no excuses! You can homestead, too! I'm looking forward to reading their recent book "Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World" after hearing their interview on The Splendid Table:

The word "movement" can be a daunting term, and, too often, can loose steam after the next "it"-ideology comes along. But, this is something lasting. So, let's not call this homesteading/unconsumption/unprocessed thing a "movement" in hopes of making it sustainable. Let's think about it as a way to live healthier lives, consume less, cook and create more ourselves. In general, let's just try to live more simply, be and become better people, members of our community and stewards of the earth.