ecological health

Health Isn't Just for Hippies

This has been on my mind for a while, and I know I'm not alone. I notice many people equating healthy living for being something hippies do. Moreover, it's often insinuated to be funny, weird or wrong, in some way. It's not funny. It's not weird. It's not wrong. It's just outdated. 

I get that many folks associate health and the healthy lifestyle to the 'hippie movement' but it's not the 1960s and 70s, anymore. It's 2014 and there are plenty of reasons and plenty of people who choose health and don't identity as being a hippie. I'm one of them. 

Self-identified hippies are great folks, don't get me wrong. I know because I used to be one, nose piercing and all. Today, I totally DO still identity and associate myself with much of what hippies were about, namely an ideology based on love and peace and questioning globalization and big government, taking care of the earth, my body and mind, the bodies and minds of others, etc. By the way, if you look up the definition of hippies and hipsters (and I used Urban Dictionary because why not), you will see such beautiful overlap that it's almost funny. Or it's just called "cultural evolution".

So! Let's evolve toward a culture that says anyone can eat a diet of organic, whole foods and not be labeled a "hippie". As long as we keep doing this, we associate a lifestyle and diet focused on personal and ecological health and limit it to a specific time in history and a specific group of people, many of whom were white and upper-middle-class. Because the benefits of clean, whole foods make us and the planet happier, I'd like to move us away from calling whole foods "hippie" foods and toward "happy" foods, or something like that. You can call me a dork, I don't mind.

Come up with a different term, I don't care. I just see so many similarities between this movement from the 60s and what's happening today, and yet I know many people sharing the values esteemed by hippies without actually identifying as such. In the 60s, younger folks were pissed at the government, pissed at their parents, pissed at "the Man" and fought back with the tools they had, namely dissension. They created cultural norms around food, hairstyles, clothing, music--pretty much everything--with a strong focus on loving and nurturing themselves, their bodies and the planet, especially with the food they ate. A big piece of this was a focus on eating whole grains and organic produce. Organic was a new-old concept back then, considering pesticides and herbicides weren't exactly something that came over on the Mayflower nor were they used on the regular by the indigenous or First Nation folks who lived here first. We've seen the trends around "organic" rise and fall with each decade since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring came out in 1962. If you have no idea who she is or what this book is about, click here.

We have these folks to thank for "bringing organic back", or like the bumper sticker I saw that said:

"Organic, what your grandparents called food"

Now, it's sort of like this stamp we put on anything and everything healthy. This is for hippies, because hippies eat vegetables. STAMP

No, people eat vegetables. People eat whole grains. People don't agree with many acts of the government. People save water and electricity and recycle plastic and use energy-efficient washing machines. People do these things who have all sorts of identities that may or may not be that of "hippie". This really hit home for me as my own identities evolved. For a brief stint in my mid-20s, I really looked the part of the "healthy, crunchy Granola hippie". In fact, one of my 8th grade students at the time made me a mix CD (I kid you not) and called it FOR GRANOLAS because the kid really got into my revisionist history Social Studies curriculum and felt like we were kindred spirits. Years later, I cut my hair and took out my nose ring but my ideology remained intact. I didn't look "Granola" but my investment in feeding myself well and leaving as little impact as possible on the earth grew ever deeper. I didn't need to be called a Hippie anymore or look the part in order to express my ideals, interests and lifestyle choices. In fact, it was the adoption of those values and my initial expression of them that helped more and more diverse and expansive identities and expressions become possible.

I am curious how many people of different identities want to adopt healthier habits but keep associating those choices with terminology, or that one word "hippie", that limits their expression as individuals. As long as we keep health and healthy living as something associated with one group of people from a certain period of our country's history, we don't allow for it to become the mainstream culture that would benefit all of us.

Peace and love.