radical homemakers || the takeaways, pt. 2

6. Removing ourselves from our homes appears to do more harm than good

It goes without saying that when we are removed from our homes we begin to rely on goods, services, and products for help. We begin to rely on the convenience of frozen meals, fast food restaurants, and overall consumerism to help sustain our lifestyle. But, is it all really worth it? Does it actually make things easier?

Hayes writes:

“If the household was to be empty all day, then an assortment of products could be marketed on grounds that they would minimize domestic duties upon returning home, or fill the void left by family members’ absence from each other. As women joined men in the workforce, opportunities to spend the paychecks were plentiful, including professional clothing, labor-saving home appliances, entertainment, exercise equipment, luxury vacations, and most significantly, processed foods.

By the 1950s, our nation’s food system was rapidly industrializing. Cheap oil made it possible for fresh foods to be available year-round, and factories made it possible to produce canned foods far cheaper and faster than a housewife could do with her surplus garden produce. Once both men and women were working, and no one was home to bag lunches or fix dinner, then an enormous market opened wide. Processed convenience foods flooded the grocery stores, office buildings, gas stations, office supply stores, restaurants, street corners, rest stops and schools. Our dietary habits changed dramatically. (p. 32-33)

Owing to this industrialized global food production system, over the last 100 years, 75 percent of plant genetic diversity has been lost and 30 percent of livestock breeds are at risk of extinction. Seventy-five percent of the world’s food comes from twelve plants and only five animal species, making our global food supply highly vulnerable to disease and famine. … Where homemakers once grew and processed considerable amount of their food in their own backyards, a few powerful multinational corporations have now stepped in. Six companies control 98 percent of the world’s seed sales, four companies slaughter 81 percent of American beef, and four companies control 70 percent of American milk sales. (p.80)


“Once we have sacrificed our time to the extractive economy, there is even more money to be made, because we now must use our hard-earned cash in order to purchase substitutes for the time we’ve traded. We buy take-out and fast food when we don’t have time to cook dinner. We buy prescription drugs when we no longer have time to take care of our health and get ample rest. We buy luxury goods for our loved ones as a substitute for spending time together. We throw out our shoes when the soles wear thin, toss our electronics into landfills when they stop working properly, because it takes too much time to repair them. In the long run, we wind up cash-poor and time-destitute, while corporate America accumulates our wealth.” (p.54-55)

“The ecological fallout of the work-and-spend cycle reaches beyond the affectations of wealth. When we toil at a job all day, we eat “on the run”; then, too tired to cook when we are finally home, we rely on convenience and packaged foods to feed the family, rather than nutritious, sustainable, locally grown foods, which require that we spend at least some time in the kitchen. The ideas of keeping a small garden to supply some of our food or visiting our farmers’ markets seem like preposterous impositions on our time. Recycling takes too much effort. Composting seems irrelevant. So that everybody in the household gets to work or school promptly, families typically have multiple cars and send multiple drivers often in the same direction simultaneously. Considering its concentric effects, overwork has a significant correlation with increased ecological footprint. (p.93)


“Our housing, work and entertainment patterns have encouraged an individualistic society, where life is built or destroyed through the money each person brings in or fails to bring in. We’ve lost the skills our grandparents once had for building a quality of life by engendering solid family relationships, commitment to our neighbors, service to our communities, and engagement in open dialogue about the collective good of our society.” p.102


7. You have the power to change your habits now

“Home is where the great change will begin. It is not where it ends. Once we feel sufficiently proficient with our domestic skills, few of us will be content to simply practice them to the end of our days. Many of us will strive for more, to bring more beauty to the world, to bring about greater social change, to make life better for our neighbors, to contribute our creative powers to the building of a new, brighter, sustainable and happier future. That is precisely that great work we should be tackling. If we start by focusing our energies on our domestic lives, we will do more than reduce our ecological impact and help create a living for all. We will craft a safe, nurturing place from which this great creative work can happen” p.17

“And herein lies a moment of truth. When a person opts to pursue the radical homemaking life described in this book, to forego conventional employment to build a sustainable home life, the odds are that he or she will not be able to reverse their decision. The handwriting is on the wall: if you leave the workplace, in most instances, they will not want you back. The good news is that the odds are even greater that, once one steps out of this dysfunctional relationship, she or he won’t want to go back.” p.36


“And therein lies the power of the Radical Homemaker to create these changes: the more homemakers are able to do for themselves – whether it be cooking, preserving or growing food, mending clothing or purchasing it used, fixing cars and appliances to avoid replacing them, cleaning with vinegar and water rather than toxic chemicals, or making rather than buying gifts and toys – the less time they exchange for money, the fewer natural resources they require from the planet, and the less they rely upon (and the less they are complicit in) the global extractive economy.” p.93


Now I know this post sounds overwhelming and daunting. But, I hope this information has been informative and eye-opening in one way or another.

When I first read it, I felt so blind and helpless. Yet, after taking some intentional steps and making changes, I feel our family is on a better path for our lives.

Small steps create big change.

Readers, would you be interested in a post on ways to implement some practical steps + habits into your daily life? I have spoken on this topic before — the steps or habits we have taken or follow in our home life — so I would be happy to redirect you to those posts. Let me know!



2 thoughts on “radical homemakers || the takeaways, pt. 2

  1. Dear Ashley, I thoroughly enjoyed your three-part series on this book. I haven’t read it yet, but now plan to. It sounds inspirational, as are these posts of yours. I would love to hear about the practical steps you take! This book review series of yours has had me considering our daily practises froma new perspective, and has been more beneficial to me right now than you could ever imagine. Thank you ever so much for writing this, it spoke straight into my heart, where it felt warm and gentle.

    — Mirva @ofsimplicity


    • Mirva,
      Such sweetness in your words! I am so glad that this post/series spoke to you — I love to pass along information in hopes that it challenges and inspires others as much as it did me. Thank you for reading and following along — your friendship and support is appreciated!


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