Book Review – The Good Life: Back to the Land

This week’s book review is of The Good Life: Back to the Land. I had read a few things about this book and then set out to find a copy, as we often contemplate a move out of the big city and into the country. There are so many reasons why we think about this…traffic, smog, housing prices, the state of the public school system, general cost of living, and the stress that one has while living in an overcrowded city. Both my teacher wife and I grew up in rural areas (the midwest and the east coast) and though we have lived in Los Angeles for 10 years, we talk almost daily about what it would be like to live in the country, possibly on a small farm.

This is exactly what the authors of this book did…Scott and Helen Nearing moved from NYC to Vermont during the Great Depression, seeking a better life away from the big city in the middle of that terrible time. They did not seem to know much about living off the land at the time, but they did know they wanted to rid themselves of the “rat-race”, live stress free and simple and completely dependent on the land. When they first arrived, they had to buy some land with their minimum amount of savings, build a house, plant some crops and learn how to to trade some goods with their neighbors. They did not believe in eating meat of any kind nor drinking milk, as they thought that keeping animals as a food source or a “farm slave” was not right, so they only ate what they could grow..vegetables, fruit, a small amount of wheat product, etc. They traded with their neighbors for honey, their only “desert” that they ever had. They lived in Vermont for 13 years, learning more and more about living in the country and off the grid, until they moved to Maine and started another homestead.

This book is quite an inspiration for anyone thinking about leaving the city and moving back to the country. It is extreme in the sense that they REALLY lived off the land..their houses were made of rocks and their food was only from the ground, but it is something to think about. Were we really meant to eat meat from New Zealand while living in Los Angeles and to eat strawberries in the middle of winter on the east coast? Were we meant to go to work for someone else for 50 hours a week just to afford a place to live in a crowded dirty city? Questions like these are best answered by the individual, but the teacher wife and I are starting to rethink our priorities in this short life we all have, and moving back to the country might be part of the solution.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in how a couple of city dwellers made the jump from living in NYC to surviving in the hills of Vermont. Even though it was written many years ago, the ideas and lessons written on those pages still ring true today. I got my copy from my local library, but it was in pretty bad shape with some pages ripped out. If you cannot find a copy free locally, you can pick up a copy at Amazon. Click here for the link.


technorati tags:pollution environment green homestead depression Vermont

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