Homesteading

Inspired by this useful and thoughtful post.

I have no problem whatsoever with the choice to grow or raise one’s own food. I think it’s a valid, even admirable choice, and I firmly oppose laws or ordinances that unduly infringe on this practice. I’m not willing to allow you to keep a goat in your apartment, but vegetable gardens and outdoor fenced animals should be a non-controversy.

My problem with “homesteading” is when it becomes framed not as a personal choice, but as a moral imperative. The history and origins of the word “homestead” are not coincidental to this. Part of my problem with “homesteading” as a moral imperative is that it overlaps with the idea of health as a moral imperative, which I’m strongly opposed to. Eating organic, homegrown vegetables is probably healthier than drinking a slurry of transfats and processed sugar, but it’s not more MORAL. Health and morality are two distinct attributes that really have nothing to do with each other.

My other problem is that “homesteading” has become affiliated with elements that are second only to Christian Reconstructionism in their creepy blend of authoritarianism and libertarianism, fused by a generous helping of paranoia. Ban aspartame, ban transfats, ban giant sodas, but don’t dare regulate assault rifles, because we might need them to overthrow the government. And we certainly don’t need affordable healthcare, because vegetables, herbs, and positive thinking are all we need to stay healthy, and Big pHARMa produces nothing but poisons anyway!

Most people who do the grow-your-own-food thing aren’t paranoid racists, and the connection to the historical use of “homesteading” is simply incidental. Likewise, most parents who homeschool aren’t child-beating Dominionists out to raise up an army of Christian soldiers, and most mothers who birth at home aren’t fatalistic naturalists who believe that death by postpartum hemorrhage is God’s/Nature’s Will. The problem isn’t with the majority. The problem is that these people are let into the party at all, and the sane, non-paranoid “homesteaders” just shrug and say “take what works for you.” Y’all, flower gardeners and crocheters don’t have to deal with a loud and obnoxious fascistic subculture at every meeting. It is, in fact, possible to keep this element out of your hobby. I shouldn’t have to comb through crap about forced microchipping, Zionists, and the North American Union to find information about canning and nutrition. I’ll allow a little leeway on guns as a legitimate political difference, but if your “homesteading” website includes any references to “Autism” or “Jews” in absolutely any context whatsoever other than “how to prepare sensory-friendly food” or “how to prepare Kosher food,” I will dismiss the entire thing out of hand.

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