The Cheapness of Granola Conservatism

A reader (who re-lapsed back to Catholicism partially through Tolkien, the Distributivists and the Caelum et Terra folks) writes from across the Pond:

I have been bulk-buying organic grains/beans/etc, buying my veg through an organic box scheme, buying organic meat in bulk and freezing it, cooking almost entirely from scratch including bread, jam, soft cheese, etc (I even grind my own flour), brewing all beer and wine, even doing some wild food gathering, etc. for the past several years while living in a first-floor flat in London.

I kept records of how much cash I spent before I started doing this, and have been keeping records since. I also have checked statistics on how much the average person in the UK spends on food per year. I can assure you that even with organic meat (though not steaks every night), this style of buying, cooking and eating is *much* less expensive than the typical UK diet. Current per person expenditure is about £18 per person per week, or just under £1000 per year (and most of the people I know spend far more – I see my coworkers spending £4-5 on lunch alone most days). On my plan, I consider £1000/year *ample* for excellent organic food for *two adults*, and could probably still manage three good meals a day (though I’d cut out the meat) on £250 per person per year.

If anyone says that being crunchy is fine for those who can afford it, you have my guarantee that they have no idea what they are talking about.

One glitch in the conservative cultural paradigm that has received quite a bit of neglect is that two giants in the conservative pantheon (Tolkien and C.S. Lewis) had a view of the sacredness of creation which was, sacramental and Christian and completely unpagan and which deeply distrusted the “there it is boys, takes as much as you want” materialism which sees Nature as one vast warehouse of raw materials. This early, healthy, and profoundly Christian apprehension has, of course, been bowdlerized by the pagan eco-spirituality crowd (which sees nature, not as a sacrament, but as a goddess). However, in reaction to this, most conservatives have adopted a mentality which does not distinguish between a sacramental approach to nature and a pagan one. They’re all just a bunch of damn tree huggers. Lewis, Tolkien and other point a very different way. One which restores Nature to her place as our sister, not our Mother, and which is as hostile to the denigration of nature as to its worship. Sooner or later, serious conservatives are going to have to go back and take a look at Tolkien’s attitude to trees (and their attitude toward us in his fiction) and Lewis’ attitude to vivisection. They are definitely not PETA or Earth First types. But neither would they be thrilled with Rush Limbaugh. Yet conservatives adore them both. Time to stop compartmentalizing here and deal with their sacramental attitude toward nature. It will only make conservatism healthier by giving it a less reactionary and more intelligent view of conservation that isn’t simply defined by opposition to the lunatics of the Left.


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