I really don’t like the word “crunchy” as an indicator of lifestyle.

(So you’ve called my crunchy. It’s OK. Stop feeling bad. I don’t care. I don’t really mind.)

I googled “crunchy” for an image, and after like 3 pages of highly processed foods (oh, the irony!) came this lovely hand-drawn picture from llinsdoodles.wordpress.com. Wouldn’t that make great kitchen art?

I guess I consider myself more “natural” than “crunchy”, and I guess it’s really the same thing. But I just don’t like the word, the prevalence of the word, the judginess of people who use the word.

So there a Big Mommy Message Board that I sometimes visit, and there’s a group I belong to called Crunchy Mamas. And I guess I like being loosely affiliated with other naturalists, but people treat it like it’s a competition, and it makes me roll my eyes.

I am a naturalist I guess – I try to use natural cleaners, I cook almost everything we eat, I cook most things from scratch or close to it. I read labels and I avoid fake food. I use cloth diapers and I limit how much I drive. But sometimes I eat doritos. And sometimes I drink soda. And sometimes I eat out. I’ve even been known to eat a hot dog at Costco.

I use electricity and running water. I drive a car when I run errands. I pay for someone else to raise my food, harvest it, package it, and ship it to a store. I pay for someone else to sew my clothes and build my appliances. I generate trash. I use disposable diapers at night and use a dryer and a dishwasher. I feed my cat food made from byproducts and I have 409 in the house - and sometimes I even use it.

I dislike it that people use the term as a badge of accomplishment – I guess because I see it as ongoing, the way I tend to make decisions, and not something I’ve achieved and therefore can  sew onto my sash. I dislike that there’s judgment by people, “crunchy” or conventional, about the other “team”. I hate that people, when trying to make changes to live their lives more naturally, feel that they have to minimize, qualify their position, call themselves “crispy” or “somewhat crunchy” or “semi” or whatever. Unless you’re living completely sustainably, self-contained and off the grid, you’re only “sorta” crunchy.

And I dislike that people blindly follow “crunchiness” and assume that all things “crunchy” are automatically better or right. Or that if something is marketed as “green” or “natural” or “simple” or “healthy” people just think it’s better, without paying any attention to whether it actually is any of these things.

I don’t take offense when people refer to me as “crunchy” and I don’t really mind when people use the term for themselves – hey if it works for you, have at it. I just don’t like using it. I’ve used the word because it’s easy and people understand what I’m talking about, but I cringe a little when I do. When I say I like to do things the “natural way”, the conversation generally leads to the questions “What do you mean"?”, and then I explain a little bit about my choices, and it almost always results in “Oooo-oooh, you mean you’re crunchy”.

I’m not making my lifestyle choices in order to fit into the “crunchy” ethos, but rather making choices to live in a way that’s healthy, simple, natural, frugal, closer to the earth, what works for my lifestyle and for my family, and what’s more in line with how we lived 50 or 60 years ago before the explosion of ready-made consumerism and ultra-super-everything. I use things (like vinegar and baking soda and fresh vegetables and flour) that people have used for thousands of years but are becoming less commonplace in modern American culture. I try to not create too much waste and to use up things that I have rather than getting bored and buying something newer, flashier.

I do some markedly “un-crunchy” things, like vaccinating.

It’s just my choices, my ongoing dialogue, and it’s a moving target. Sometimes I buy frozen burritos. And cook them in (gasp!) the microwave. My baby ate a non-organic banana last week, because it’s what was easy. I prefer to trend toward natural – it’s not absolute. It’s a trend, a tendency, a personal philosophy, a dialogue, a process.

Besides, crunchy is a texture.


  1. what? you mean you use good 'ole fashioned common sense? sounds to me like you may be a bit "crunchier" than I- but I dig the way you think! I'm working to simplify- repurpose- live in the moment and appreciate what I have instead of wanting more more more- and get outside staying close to nature with the kiddos- and hey, I use flour too! I'm your new follower- found you via MOV - kelli

  2. Hi Kelli - welcome and thanks for reading! You'll find that I'm just a great big paradox, trying to work my way through this motherhood business.

  3. I think we may be a part of the same board, and I confess I have found myself being kinda competitive, which I know is silly. But sometimes I can't help it. Every now and again I enjoy the fact that someone else envies the life I have and sometimes take for granted. Sometimes it helps to ground me and make me appreciate the things I do have. But I am also not "crunchy" just for the sake of being so - I take everything with a grain of salt, I do my own research and go with what works best for my family. For us that means that we are slowly moving toward a more natural/ less chemical lifestyle....and I like it :-)

  4. Hi Kris- we may in fact be in the same place! I also like that people sometimes ask for advice or want to get my take on things, but the competition is condescending tone in so much of it is ridiculous.

    I agree that it is centering (and a good reminder to appreciate the choices I've made) to be able to help others who are interested in a more natural lifestyle. I also made slow, planned changes, with a major focus on using things up before moving on. It's a lifestyle shift, and it's a process!

    Enjoy the change!


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