Returning to Our Roots: Progress vs. The Passage of Time


There seems to be a strange resurgence of back-to-the-basics movements in the past decade; movements that hearken back to the nature-minded atmosphere of the mid to late 1960s. But this is not simply a rehash of “hippie” morals and flower-power mantras. This return to our roots is coming at a time when our technological progress is exponential, and people seem to want to take the time to stop and grow their own roses.

It is becoming increasingly common for people to be interested in activities their grandparents would find very familiar – homesteading, jarring, going to farmer’s markets, buying local – all of this didn’t need a label in the 1920s. It was just the way life was. Now, with large corporations churning out squeezable tubes of yogurt, pizza with cheeseburger crust and purple ketchup, we suddenly see people fighting back.

Many in the millennial generation see the baby boomers suffering from heart disease, diabetes and other ailments caused by poor diet. It’s present in their own generation, too; kids are more overweight now than they’ve ever been, and it’s easy to see why when the aforementioned “foods” are somehow pushed into existence.

Thus, the rise of organic, local, vegetarian, vegan, raw, etc. Young people working on a farm is no longer an antiquated idea – no middle or upper class twentysomething in the 1980s would have been caught dead harvesting radishes unless their parents did the same. Now, people educated on the dangers of the “food” being tossed out there by fast food joints and large industries are choosing to grow kale.

This return goes beyond just health benefits – I mean, what’s the real benefit of jarring your own food? Maybe part of it is the connection with nature one feels when farming land. Maybe it’s a response to the constant urbanization that inevitably occurs in developed nations. I would argue it is both of those, combined with a frustration with the ubiquity of technology and mass-produced everything.

Today, it seems like a new, faster and more powerful phone comes out every month. If you’re not keeping up, that communication miracle in your pocket will be obsolete by Valentine’s Day. The same goes for computers, televisions, cars, video games, movies and more. Every aspect of life seems to be updated as often as the newsfeed on Facebook. With all that forward motion, a growing segment of the population is returning to simpler times in specific ways.

Thanks to this movement, there is now the option to pursue slowly-made, lovingly-crafted goods of all types. Slow-drip coffee. Hour-long haircuts with a straight razor shave. Small-batch hot sauce. They’re all responses to the industrialized processes that have taken over our lives. And no, there’s no need (or time) to take part in all of the slower things in life; but everyone can find their niche.

Here’s to hoping this growing trend is proof that progress and the passage of time aren’t necessarily synonymous – that technology isn’t always the answer. Maybe our grandparents had a few things right, even if they didn’t have the science to know it. Maybe small-batch, organically grown, pickled beans in mason jars aren’t about being cool – maybe they’re about fighting back and creating a real cultural shift in how we view food, progress and technology.

…says the guy with the iPhone.


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