Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fiber in food and in life: Lessons from the Nearings

“Live hard not soft; eat hard not soft; seek fiber in foods and in life.”
~Scott and Helen Nearing

Scott and Helen Nearing – an inspiring couple!

In the early 1930’s during the Great Depression, the Nearings moved from New York City to rural Vermont in order to practice a new and sustainable way of living.

They read widely. They were experimenters. They valued self-discipline, exercise, a good diet, frugality, environmental consciousness, civic contribution, and social justice.

They learned to grow their own food (challenging in New England winters). They did not want to be dependent on money, thus learned how to provide most of their food needs (they had a year-round solar greenhouse). They tapped maple trees for sugar. They gardened organically. They built their own stone houses and buildings.

They thought cooking should be simple, that it should take less time to prepare than to eat. They made daily “horse chow” for breakfast (raw oats, raisins, lemon juice, and some vegetable oil), and salad and potatoes for lunch and dinner. They did juice fasts every Sunday.

They believed in dividing each day into three parts:
Bread labor: To meet basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, etc.
Civic work: To do something of value for the community.
Professional pursuits/recreation: To learn, read, write, pursue interests.

"Find some form of work - creative energy - into which you can concentrate your being; into which you can go with your whole heart."
~Scott Nearing


  1. ahhh. this is my ideal lifestyle. i need to read up on these people.

  2. Great post Christina. Have you read their books Living the Good Life and Loving and Leaving the Good Life? Fantastic! I corresponded with Helen before she passed away a while back and she was a lovely soul. More people should get to know about them and what they preached so long ago. They inspired people in the 60s to go back to the land and were "green" long before it was considered vogue.

  3. loved loved reading
    Making of a Radical by Scott Nearing

  4. Wow, I am amazed that they were able to be so self sufficient. I love the idea of simple cooking! Also awesome that they set aside time each day to attend to basic needs, civic duties and recreational pursuits, my days aren't nearly that well balanced! Thanks - I am going to add their books to my reading list :)

  5. I haven't read any of their books yet but they are on my list! (Maybe we can all do some book-sharing...)

    Rob, I'd love to hear more about your correspondence with Helen! Did you ever make it up there?