Are You Crunchy? Thank Capitalism

Are You Crunchy? Thank Capitalism

You can eat free-range eggs, organic kale, fresh juice from your Vitamix, and cruelty-free meat. For that, thank a country that boasts more economic freedom than most.
Bethany Mandel
By

The term “crunchy” refers to the crunching sound of granola. When someone is called “crunchy” it refers to a certain lifestyle focused on living an environmentally friendly life. Think organic food, hiking, gardening with a composter in the backyard, and for moms, cloth diapers, breastfeeding, and maybe a natural birth in your own bathtub.

Generally, the term refers to the more politically, economically, and socially liberal among us. The intersection of liberal politics and the environmental left is in many ways a complete overlap. A good number of us conservatives, however, hide among the organic-kale-munching tree-huggers. We are conservative, but in our spare time can be found beating our bongos in non-partisan drum circles. Unlike our liberal crunchy friends, we know what we can thank for being able to live the lifestyles we chose: capitalism and representative self-government.

You Aren’t Forced to Use Cloth Diapers

My crunchy lifestyle manifests itself in a myriad of ways. Most clearly it is in my role as a mother. I’ve been known to use cloth diapers, which has become a litmus test for how crunchy a mother truly is. If you’re willing to put human excrement in the same washing machine with your clothing (though not at the same time), it’s the ultimate crunchy mother merit badge.

I cloth diaper partially to save money, and partially because I hated creating so much unnecessary waste. While many in Communist countries were or still are trapped cloth diapering out of necessity, those of us living in economic freedom in the West can do so (or not) of our own choosing. Thanks to capitalism, we have a countless number of brands to choose from. New cloth diapering businesses start every year, often from the homes of young entrepreneurial parents looking for the perfect way to cover their baby’s behinds.

Many in Communist countries were or still are trapped cloth diapering out of necessity.

We’ve graduated from the age of prefolds and safety pins, and now cloth diapering families have any number of “systems” to choose from: all-in-one, pockets, or hybrids. If a parent decides to use more environmentally friendly disposable options, there’s any number made out of biodegradable components that break down easily in landfills, and, in the case of at least one, can even be flushed down a regular household toilet.

That latter kind of diaper is offering a 20 percent off coupon in honor of Earth Day, because capitalism. If liberal crunchy parents decide to drive their Prius with Bernie bumper stickers to the airport en route to the socialist paradise of Venezuela, they should be prepared to pack diapers on the capitalist end, because they won’t find any at their destination.

Lifestyle Comforts the World Dreams Of

Childbirth and breastfeeding are yet other ways my personal crunch manifests itself in my life as a mother. I chose my midwife partially because the hospital her practice delivers in has all of the comforts of a hotel. Given a good number of other local hospitals to choose from, hospitals tout the amenities they offer new mothers. I had a large private room with a beautiful view of Princeton and my own shower, and my husband had a full pullout couch to sleep on.

Given a good number of other local hospitals to choose from, hospitals tout the amenities they offer new mothers.

After my children were born, a lactation consultant visited my room in the hospital to help me with first learning how to get my babies to latch on. Had I delivered a baby in Canada, the United Kingdom, or any other country with a socialist healthcare system (as many crunchy liberals wish we had), I would not have had the freedom to choose my care provider or lactation consultants to help me with the basics of breastfeeding. Several women in my community work as freelance lactation consultants. We can thank capitalism for their ability to be entrepreneurial small businesswomen.

Several months ago my son was diagnosed with a possible food allergy to gluten. The diagnosis came after visiting several specialists. Again, thanks to our healthcare system, I was able to shop around to find a doctor who listened to our concerns about his health. Now that he is on a gluten-free diet, I’m shopping in the gluten-free aisles a great deal. Thanks to the explosion of gluten-free eating as a fad diet for the health-conscious, we can buy remarkably well-made and gluten-free pastas, breads, ready-made meals and more.

The supermarket shelves of socialist and communist countries are bare, with only a handful of options. In the United States and across the capitalist West, different kinds of pasta and cereal each take up at least half an aisle in most supermarkets. Are you able to eat free-range eggs, organic kale, fresh juice from your Vitamix, and cruelty-free meat? Be thankful you live in a country that boasts more economic freedom than most.

Thank Freedom for Your Self-Expression

One place I sadly won’t be joining my crunchy friends is at political protests. I say sadly because I am secretly a big fan of some of the more catchy chants, and I’m a sucker for a good drum circle. Minus the rapes and squalor, camping out at Occupy Wall Street actually kind of looked like fun.

These protests are possible because we live in a free system of government.

These protests are possible because we live in a free system of government. While the Left spent eight years calling George W. Bush a dictator at protests, they were only able to do so because he was not. These same activists and professional progressive protesters provide the manpower for environmental and economic protests for Greenpeace, minimum wage, union disputes, and more. They are able to express all of these opinions, no matter how misguided, because we live in one of the freest countries in the world.

This Earth Day, as the crunchy among us celebrate the worship of all of the wonders Mother Nature has to offer, we have not only her to thank for the more natural lifestyles some of us may enjoy. We are able to buy Birkenstocks from Germany and a handmade hemp baby carrier, and put bumper stickers of our choosing on any kind of car or bicycle we choose because we live in political and economic freedom.

Bethany Mandel is a stay-at-home mother of three children under four and a writer on politics and culture. She is a columnist for the Jewish Daily Forward, and a contributor at Acculturated. She lives with her husband, Seth, in New Jersey. You can follow her on Twitter @BethanyShondark.

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