Watching television these days, reading magazines, following blogs, even taking the family to the movies puts us right in the firing line of all the commercials and news reports warning us about superbugs, dangerous cleaners and remedies to simple, everyday challenges. And the challenges are always bigger than we think they are…
Got a cut? Here’s a cream to help it heal AND keep it from getting infected. A cough? Take this syrup to conquer the cough AND five other symptoms you will probably get so that you can keep working and shopping (and getting ill). Spilled some juice? Here’s a super cleaner that will dissolve it all so well that you’ll be able to have white furniture even though you have little kids! And no, we don’t have to tell you about the cancer-causing or corrosive chemicals in the formula because it’s for use in your private home even though you have little kids running/sleeping/drooling all over it.
It’s all spin and many of us know it but we keep on buying the cleaners because they make the chores easy and the walls sparkly and the cough goes away and the cuts heal and the hair is shiny and the cupboards full and the laundry fragrant and on and on and on… and, mostly, because this is how we’ve been taught (or convinced) to do it.
Once upon a time, an entire generation of homemakers managed to care for their families without anti-bacterial cream, pasteurized milk, sterilized bandages, household cleaners that smell like flowers or store bought medicines to conquer every symptom.
People survived. My grandmother, your grandmother (or maybe great grandmother) lived without television and many of the products that are now flogged shamelessly in between ever-shorter snippets of entertainment that take over the time that used to be spent home making. And not just home-making but ‘green’ homemaking.
No garbage pickup… peelings and scraps go into the compost or chicken bin and produce the fertilizer you need for the next harvest or are converted directly into new food by the little red hen. Bottles and jars returned or washed and used for canning.
No energy sucking laundry machines. A washing line in the backyard for everything and plenty of sunshine to bleach and freshen the fabrics. A scrub board or beating paddle to drive the dirt out of the clothes mechanically… no solvents or residues left to make a little one itchy. (And no need to go to the gym after that workout, either.) And clothes that smell like grass, flowers and wind but don’t make you sneeze.
No frozen dinners. No refridgerators. Everything you eat is fresh from the garden or the butchers. No added sugar, no questionable preservatives, all the fibre nature can provide and more nutrients than you can get from a bottle of vitamins.
That’s natural. And if you go back 100 years, it was how most humans lived. If you go to some parts of the world, it is still how humans live. Sadly, we have forgotten most of it here, in the modern western world. In the cities, I would say it’s all gone, replaced by a series of ‘you must haves’ from those mini-screens of civilization I mused on when I first started this up and all of it cloaked in a whirlwind of spin.
Gramma lived it.
Mother lost it.
I can get it back again. And so can you.
All the information is out there. The Internet has everything you need. The libraries carry books on how to container garden and compost and have backyard chickens. The grocery stores have organic and local. There are farms with CSA programs and farm markets with a variety of handmade, artisan and homegrown whatever you need. And you would be shocked to find out just how easy ( and cheap!) it is to grow your own veggies or make your own cleaners, moisturizing creams, hair gels… how satisfying it is to do this work for your family, and how different (and nice) natural is from the tv-branded version of life (even green life!) we find ourselves caught in in the twenty-first century.
And there are people out there aching to help you with information, products for those who want the natural without the time, mess, search for supplies, or learning involved.
But let’s be clear… being natural isn’t about shopping. It’s about living.