I’m back in print! I just started a monthly column for The Montague Reporter (check out their Facebook page), based on many of the ideas I share in my blog and Facebook page, called Oystergirl’s Guide to Real Living. This is my introductory column. –VQ
Oystergirl’s Guide to Real Living
March 5, 2015
“We were not born critical of existing society. There was a moment in our lives (or a month, or a year) when certain facts appeared before us, startled us, and then caused us to question beliefs that were strongly fixed in our consciousness—embedded there by years of family prejudices, orthodox schooling, imbibing of newspapers, radio, and television.” —Howard Zinn
Greetings, Montague! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Vanessa, aka Oystergirl. I currently live in Providence, RI, but am a frequent visitor to the Montague area. I look forward to connecting with you all through this monthly column.
I am called Oystergirl because I love real, fresh, local, nutrient-dense food that includes but is not limited to oysters. My love for natural, simple food extends into a love for a natural, simple life in general.
I was born and bred in Rhode Island, and am living there again after getting a bit of wanderlust out of my system. I come across a lot of things on my travels: new ways to think about food, home, politics, living life itself—and new ways to engage in the acts of eating, living, politicking. Over the years, a lot of these things began to overlap with each other.
And a whole lot of them ended up being about trying to be healthy and happy in ways that may go against the grain of our culture’s conventional wisdom, but that are actually more in harmony with ourselves, with others, with the rest of the earth.
The movement with which I identify the most, the lens through which I critique conventional wisdom, is the ancestral or paleo community. Paleo—or some interpretation of paleo—has become a bit trendy lately, so I’d like to explain what I mean by I use that term, so we’re on the same page.
The idea, essentially, is to eat real food and live a life that treats your body nicely. How do we do that? Look at what humanoids thrived on for the millions of years our recorded history ignores, and continue to thrive on in non-industrialized areas. Be critical of modern food science and processed foods with adamant health claims. Learn how you can do right by your body and the earth, and not just one or the other as though they are mutually exclusive.
My version of paleo goes beyond food, beyond exercise, beyond every-day life. It’s part of a larger narrative that connects these things with the rest of life, culture, and thought. It’s connected to how I exercise and the shoes I wear, and also to how I think about things and make decisions about where and how to spend my time (and money). It’s all connected.
For me, identifying as paleo means having a wider view of human history. It’s about looking to the past, to our ancestors, for clues as to how to move forward and live in a society that is in many ways really out of whack.
It’s not about fetishizing the past and being some kind of neo-Luddite. It’s about considering that early human history wasn’t as bad as modern-civilization-lovers claim it was, just because there wasn’t indoor plumbing or canned yams; that a lot of things worked then that maybe don’t anymore.
Living in the modern world, we have many tools at our disposal to teach us how to live and (hopefully) thrive: science, religion, Google. But beyond “authority” and/or strangers, we also have our friends, family, and community. We have ourselves: our ability to think critically and to run our own experiments on ourselves, to find what works for us.
In this column, I hope to share with you some of the conclusions I’ve come up, the things that work for me—as well as my ever-progressing research and self-experimentation. The first thing I will tackle is hygiene!
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