When I first heard of The New York Times article about farms experiencing a hipster invasion of sorts, it left me with an image of  young fashionable twenty-somethings breaking into farms and fashioning ironic mustaches onto a bevy of unsuspecting farm animals.

That ‘stache is lookin’ tight, horse!” –anonymous hipster farmer/ rebel.

The article, upon further inspection (aka: reading),  does not focus on the terminology “hipster” but more so on the notion that this sudden interest in farming internships is a  trend among young adults. The internet buzz surrounding the article seems to be translating this, rightfully or wrongfully, as an article focused on hipster farming.

It is likely that this surge has nothing to do with “hipsters“ -a seemingly arbitrary term that is tossed about with spite by people who could easily fit into some aspect of the alleged “hipster” mold themselves about other people who fit into other aspects of the mold, but more to do with a pattern of behavior among a certain age group.  This inter-hipster hate is sort of like Christians hating on Judaism, or vice versa, for either being too religious…the age old tale of the pot, calling the kettle black.

Perhaps this growth in interest in internships of a sustainable nature shows the effects on the collective consciousness of a generation of people who came to age in time of immediate information–where factory farming was being publicly decried and  the environment was continuously being protected by a leftist blog community…AP, I am looking at us! (This conspiracy runs deep, I tells ya’!)

Between the great recession and the constant influx of discoveries of  the over the top ways in which we- especially in the Western world- tend to live and how these lifestyle choices negatively effect the environment has left some people looking for alternative ways of  approaching their day to day lives. By rejecting the notion of “consume, consume, consume” that is shoved down our throats from birth, and embracing fully their role in living a sustainable lifestyle, they are fully practicing what they are preaching.  Instead of reducing these people to a label, we should give them appreciative head nod…sudden movements are known to scare hipsters….I kid, I joke therefore I am.

Evan Dayringer, an intern at the farm featured in the Times article, explains, “…you don’t get a lot more fundamental than farming. So really I’m hoping it’ll be almost like a vehicle: I’ve got farming, I’ve got food, I’ve got shelter, I’ve got people, and then I can incorporate things into that as I go forward.”

“Think Globally, Act Locally” is being personified in someone like this young lad. He shouldn’t be reduced to a stereotype and therefore dismissed as a useless hipster- a term that implies that someone is only embracing a belief, a fashion or an artist because it is oozing trendiness.

Throughout history, youth has often been equated with an openness to embrace a movement, the most obvious example being the hippies of the sixties and their anti-war/ pro getting high on reefer movement. It is important to not pass sustainable life choices off as a passing fad embraced only by hip youths. who do not know enough about disappointment. Eco-friendly living is to be applauded, especially when practiced in such a productive all-encompassing manner.

In addition to these accolades, we should encourage each other -both those young and hipper than us and those old fuddy duddies who watch the weather channel for fun-to not pass this lifestyle off as something that is a finite, passing craze that will be considered lame or dreadfully passé  in another five years. Eco-friendly living is not Pogs, bell bottoms, or rollerblading backwards downtown in gold lame hot pants (wait, that may have just been me) and should not be seen as something that is only embraced for some type of coolness factor.

Regardless of how you feel about eco-lifestyles or hipsters,  when the zombie apocalypse inevitably occurs, locate the nearest hipster and beg them to school you in the ways of organic farming, they are easily located by the lens less fashion glasses and their knowledge of bands you have never heard of. They may be your only hope of survival.

I kid, or do I? Dun, dun, dun!!!

-Meghan Hurley

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Thanksgiving is the time of year to give thanks and express gratitude. It is a time for relaxation as well as spending quality time with friends and family members. During holidays such as this it’s important we pay attention to our purchasing choices and habits just as much the rest of year, perhaps even more.  Even though, Thanksgiving can feel like an indulgent and gluttonous holiday, what it represents is far more deep. And its the lesson of appreciativeness for what we have and where life has taken us should transmit to the way we celebrate, as well as our daily choices. I n honor of this holiday, we at AP have put together tips on How to Have an Ethical Thanksgiving below. So savor the suggestions below just as you savor your Thanksgiving meal and remember to extend your conscious choices beyond the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving from us at AP and thank you for all your support!

Autonomie Project’s Tips on How to Have an Ethical Thanksgiving:

1) Eat Organic: As you are shopping the aisles of your market, keep in mind how important purchasing organic can be. Most products and definitely most vegetables and fruits come certified organic these days. Not only is it helpful to the environment to eat organic, it is terrific for your body. Non organic foods can contain harmful chemicals and pesticides which can do a number on your body and seep into our soil and eventually into our water supply, thus harming our entire environment. Of course we would encourage you to eat vegan this holiday and provide many great vegan holiday recipes and a guide to surviving the holidays. However, if you are going to eat meat or dairy, we suggest you purchase organic and free range choices. You can find organic items such as these at your local co-op, natural foods store, Whole Foods, and sometimes your regular grocery store. Just be sure when you are making an organic purchase, you look for the USDA Certified Organic label, anything else is not officially certified.

2) Shop Locally: When you are making your holiday food purchases try your hardest to shop local. Meaning, skip the major corporate grocery mega stores for your local store, including co-ops and natural foods stores. But also pay attention to the products you purchase and support your local farms and companies. When you purchase locally, you are stimulating your community’s economy and are supporting a transaction which cuts shipping pollution. This is very helpful to both our environment and to the cost of your product! So be sure to support your local farmer and market.

3) Fair Trade Groceries: Unfortunately not all products can be found Fair Trade at this time. However, there are many food products used for the holidays which you can find Fair Trade Certified. Some Fair Trade products you may be able to incorporate into your meal are Fair Trade rice, olive oil, chocolate and fruit. You might also want to switch your baking supplies over to Fair Trade such vanilla, baking powder, and sugar. You could even make your centerpieces with Fair Trade flowers! Also, serve your guests Fair Trade wine with their meals and coffee or tea after. For a full list of Fair Trade products and where to find them check out Transfair’s list of stores.

 

4) Stay Put: Instead of flying all over or driving far distances to see your family, stay put this year! You can cut down your carbon output by not leaving your home for the holidays. Heck, this will even save you money from pricey gas and plane tickets. You might ask, “But what about my family? The holidays aren’t the same without them?” Well, we have the answer for you! Try skyping with them. We know that word sounds foreign or perhaps made up. But if you haven’t already signed up, check out Skype. It’s a free internet video chat service that is surprisingly clear and makes long distance shrink! The lines are much clearer than any cell phone and you can actually SEE and interact with your family. Trust us, we live thousands of miles from our loved ones, and it really does almost feel as if you are with them. So skip the crowded airports and traffic ridden roads, and catch up with your family virtually. Look at it this way, you can always turn them off when they get on your nerves.

5) Volunteer/Donate Goods: Even though more people volunteer at soup kitchens and shelters on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year, we suggest you call your local shelter and use the holiday as a reminder to volunteer on other days of the year. The shelters need help all year-round and would happy to have extra volunteers. However, if Thanksgiving is one of the few days you can spare, go out and volunteer! Also, there are a number of organizations that collect food donations for the less fortunate and their families. Check your local charitable organizations for Thanksgiving Food Drives,  but also check out these organizations as well: Food for Others and Feeding America.  Also, if you have plenty of leftovers call your local shelters to see if they will accept any leftovers. Some states have laws about donated food, but some shelters may be able to accept some home-made goods.

Since the election, many people have used the phrase “change has come to the White House.” And of course they mean more than just a change in leadership but a change in policy. Well, Barack Obama is not the only one ushering an era of change to the White House. The First Lady, Michelle Obama has her own plan! This past Friday, Michelle and volunteer elementary students began to build a White House garden. The garden is set to grow herbs, vegetables, and fruits that will be used in the White House Kitchen. As well as feeding the residents and staff of the White House, the gardens produce will be donated to a local soup kitchen in Washington DC.

Obama White House Garden Photo By mitbbs2008

Michelle and her volunteers began digging and planting such plants as broccoli, spinach, bcollard greens, and many herbs.  The veggies and fruits planted in the garden are set to change with the seasons. The First Lady said she had been planning on building the garden since she moved into the new residence as her daughters, Sasha and Malia prefer fresh vegetables!

Our organic Garden at the studio - May 1st Photo by Just in Parr

We think its absolutely wonderful that the White House has made the move to pant a garden. Eating local or growing your own garden is a great way to not only save money but help the environment. Growing mass amounts of produce and shipping them across the country is very wasteful. And as Sasha and Malia have pointed out, when you grow your own garden, the produce is extremely fresh! Also, many experts have stated that eating with the seasons is not only healthier but keeps you in touch with your surroundings.

Fresh Herbs Photo by (nz)daveThe White House is leading a great example for our children and the country! We hope this move inspires others to grow their own produce. If you are wondering how to grow your own organic garden, check out this Beginner’s Guide to Organic Gardening. If you live in an apartment and do not have a yard to grow a whole garden in, try at least growing your own herbs. It’s actually pretty easy inside your apartment! And finally if you just don’t have that green thumb, try the next best thing: local farms! There are many small, local, and organic farms throughout the country: find one near you! The White House is one of the most symbolic American landmarks and the President is perhaps the most influential person in the world. So it is inspiring to see them live by example! Thank you Michelle for making a change!

Happy New Year from all of us at AP! 2008 was a long and transitional year for most of us. In this country we have seen positive changes and some tragic events. Yet we have to keep our heads up even in economic turmoil and look towards the next year. Hopefully 2009 will be a prosperous and healing time for all of us. We at AP want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and would like to make some quick suggestions for New Year’s Resolutions this coming year. The following list is our 2009 New Year’s Resolutions; which we all plan to implelement into our lives as much as possible. “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind…”

1) Support Fair Trade: In the next year, we hope more and more people will support fair trade. There are easy changes in your life to do so. Make sure several products that are easy to buy fair trade are done. Such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and even vanilla. These products can be found fair trade in most grocery store chains, as well as in local stores. But on top of that make a conscious effort to incomporate more fair trade items into your life such as clothing and jewlery and even wine! If you are unsure of where to purchase such items, check out the FTF’s list of fair trade stores or even our own AP site.

2) Buy Organic: Whenever possible we at AP buy organic produce and other items, including clothing! Not only is organic items good for your body, but they are great for the environment. Check out your local grocery store, co-op, or farmer’s market for organic produce. Pay attention for other organic products such as clothing, vanilla, chocolate, and coffee!

3) Eat Less Meat OR Go Vegetarian/Vegan: Eating meat is very very harmful to the environment, as well as to one’s health. This year think about switching to a meat free diet or at least significantly cutting back on your meat intake. If you have trouble letting meat go, please try to eat only organic, free range, and local farms. As these types of farms tend to have less harmful effects. If you would like to know more about switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet, check out Go Veg.com or order one of their starter kits.

4) Support Local: Supporting your local businesses and farms is not only great for your community but it cuts down on energy used in shipping items from all over the world. Check out your local farmer’s markets and coops for great locally grown produce. And every city, town, and neighborhood in the country has thousands of small and local cafes, restaurants, and clothing stores.

5) Small Eco Choices: Make a commitment to make small green changes in your daily life. Some easy ones are changing all your light bulbs over to energy efficient ones (it saves you money too!), using eco friendly cleaning products, and recycling! You can also choose to car pool, use public transit, walk, or bike to work. These choices may seem small, but they have a large impact on the world around us. If each person cut back on the little things, we could use less energy together!

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