Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What is "granola" anyway?


A friend of mine posed this question the other day, "Why is it that things that were normal to do 40 years ago are suddenly considered 'granola'?" My answer was simply that it was no longer mainstream practice, so now it has a special name like any other "sect". But something about the question has been gnawing at me.

I think the real question she was asking, without realizing because she thinks she already knows the answer, is "What does being 'granola' really mean?" I mean, is it just cloth diapering and breastfeeding? Because there are places where pretty much EVERYONE does that. It's not so shocking. Americans used to do that too, they just don't anymore. So what's so special about being "granola" that you need or deserve your own category? Gooooooooooooood question!

Like anything else, granola moms fall on a broad spectrum. The most granola moms of all breastfeed forever, cloth diaper using the diapers they made themselves, co-sleep in a king-size family bed on the floor, practice baby-led weaning, don't vaccinate, homeschool, are vegan, and live on a co-op. Okay, I left out some stuff, but you get the idea. Many of us do some of those things to some degree. I think what connects us all is not what we do, but the ideologies we share that drive us to do what we do.

The majority of granola moms I have met are not interested in doing something simply because it's against the mainstream or, conversely, trendy. It is fueled by a real desire to connect their babies to themselves and to the natural world around them. Luckily, there are lots of avenues to this end. There are simple things that can be done, like buying or making all-natural cleaning products and making your own baby food. You can invest in cloth diapers. You can breastfeed. You can babywear. There are also more intensive things you can do, like practice Elimination Communication and homeschool. Like I said, there is a broad spectrum of "crunchiness".

I am comfortable where I am on the spectrum. With this second child, I see us actually moving toward an increasingly granola lifestyle. We're already moving toward making our own cleansers, increasing our composting/recycling, and growing our own fruits and veggies and/or buying local. But there'll always be someone more crunchy..and that's okay.

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