In today’s woot, I want to share an excerpt from a poem that artistically encapsulates the counter-culture approach to life Mr. Frugalwoods and I employ. Mr. Frugalwoods describes the poet, Wendell Berry, as the poet laureate of the back to the land movement. While I won’t say that we agree with everything Berry espouses, the opening two stanzas of this poem ring alarmingly true for me:
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Source: Copyright (c)1991, 1996 by Context Institute
This is but a mere excerpt and the poem can be read in its entirety here.
In my opinion, there is no doubt that the life we live, and the financial independence we aspire to, is not in line with societal expectations. We are bad consumers, bad cogs in the machine, and we don’t stimulate the economy. Our money is, for the most part, not in circulation (unless you count the stock market, in which case we’re heavily circulated).
By extension, our lives deviate from the norm. I’ve discussed this previously, primarily in my Frugality Is Not Mainstream post, but I’m continually reminded of just how much of a frugal weirdo I am. I find this odd, because I don’t think that what Mr. FW and I want is all that inconsistent with the mainstream.
We want happiness, peace, contentedness, deep family relationships, freedom to allocate our time as we choose, and an absence of fear about money. I think most people see accumulating great wealth as the means to these very same ends. Conversely, we think that money doesn’t have to be an object if you don’t need very much of it. And, your life can be whatever you want as long as your vision values relationships, experiences, and the simple life as opposed to material opiates. I don’t like saying material goods, because they’re usually not. What do you think?
Since I just did an overdose on the ol’ Frugalwoods philosophy, let me reel it on back with this week’s grumble. Five words for ya: produce is too freaking expensive!
You all know I’m on a constant crusade to lower our grocery bills and I think we’ve just about hit rock bottom. We’ve optimized, systemized, eliminated food waste, but still! The vast majority of our food costs: PRODUCE. We prioritize fruits and vegetables in our diet and we try to eat as healthfully as possible; but, it’s endlessly frustrating that it eats up so much of our budget!
Don’t even get me started on organics. I am MAD as a greyhound in a turtleneck (pictured above) when I compare conventional to organic produce prices and I break into a cold sweat trying to decide which to buy every. single. week… it’s exhausting to be me.
Here’s how I usually break it down–what do you think?
- Conventional: bananas, avocados, lemons, limes, green pepper, broccoli, shallots, jalapeños, sugar snap peas
- Organic: salad greens, apples, carrots, cilantro
My theory here is that stuff with a skin is protected from chemicals and so I feel OK about the conventional (although in looking at this list I realize the broccoli and green pepper should be moved to the organic category–egads!). I waffle and sometimes my resolve fails and I buy conventional for everything, but then I have this sinking suspicion all week that I’m poisoning self & Mr. FW. Plus, we’re trying to get pregnant right now so I have the added guilt of inflicting non-organic, inferior veg on our yet-to-be-conceived baby.
We can’t grow our own yet (no space, concrete jungle), we’re on the waiting list for the community garden, and the local CSA is even MORE expensive. Roar.
Should I get over myself and just pay for the organic? Do you divide your produce up like I do? What’s a frugal gal to do? HALP!