A staple in my home growing up was Polish keilbasa and sauerkraut.
I used to hate it, but as a teen, I found myself obsessed with sauerkraut. I ate it every chance I got.
Until last year, I had no idea how easy it was to actually make.
I researched quite a bit, and decided to make my first batch of sauerkraut. I followed the recipe exactly, except for the container that I put it in.
I made the unfortunate mistake of putting cheese cloth on top of the jar, and put a rubber band around the mouth to seal it in place. I made the mistake of letting too much air in, and the result was about a half an inch of mold on top of the kraut. After that, I did some more research, and determined I’d either need a fermentation crock, or an airtight jar. I already had the airtight jars, so now, all I needed was a good recipe.
You can actually make sauerkraut in a few different ways. You can use the traditional waterbath or pressure canner method, but that doesn’t allow for fermentation, and it doesn’t provide you with good bacteria that help balance out the natural flora in your intestines.
The easiest explanation is this: during the fermentation process, bad bacteria can’t tolerate a salty environment, while good bacteria (think pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir) can. The good bacteria is called Lactobacillus. It converts sugars naturally present in food into lactic acid. Lactic acid is great for digestive health, anti-inflammatory, and good at clearing up or preventing yeast infections.
Fermenting is more of a traditional method of preserving and pickling foods. You can ferment pretty much anything, including cabbage (sauerkraut), cucumbers (pickles), onions, ginger, garlic, beets, etc. Fermentation is meant for a shorter shelf life, canning is meant to preserve foods for a year or more. Typically, fermented foods have a “shelf life” of about two months.
Today, I had the spare time and the cabbage, so I decided to make a batch. I was afraid that all the cabbage wouldn’t fit, but once I broke it down, it all fit inside the air tight jar. Here’s how I did it, step by step!
Things you’ll need:
Start by chopping the garlic up. It doesn’t have to be too fine, just mince it so it’ll fit in the bowl. Add that to the bowl, and then grab the cabbage. Remove the first 2-4 leaves. I had to remove the first 4. I cored the cabbage, nd then you quarter the cabbage. From there, finely shred it. I used a knife, but you have a mandolin slicer, that might work, too. Whatever works best for you.
Once you have everything shredded, put it in the bowl with the garlic. From there, start mashing it with a potato
masher. Keep doing it until you start to see it break down, and then, use your hands. Within a few minutes, the cabbage will break down with the salt and start to produce liquid, called the brine. This will help your cabbage ferment. Break it down as much as you can, and once there’s a decent amount of brine, add your peppercorns and mix. From there, place the cabbage mixture into the jar and pack as tightly as you can. There should be brine still left in the bowl, so pour that on top. It should be fairly cloudy, and will get more cloudy as it ferments. Pack it till it’s almost full (leave about a half inch of headspace), and seal the jar.
Now, once you place it on the counter, or on the table, open the jar to release gasses about 24 hours after you put it in the jar. From there, open the jar every 12 hours or so to release gasses, and make sure you pay attention, because if the gasses build up too much without being released, the jar could crack or explode. After about four or five days, you can move the sauerkraut to the fridge, which will slow down the fermentation process. From there, the kraut should have a two or three month shelf life.
Have you ever made sauerkraut or pickles? What would you be curious to try? Comment below and let me know, or find me on Instagram @americanoutliers.
It’s a word that a lot of millennials are familiar with, but aren’t quite sure how to apply. As Americans (and Canadians, Australians, and some Europeans), we are bombarded with advertisements for buying more stuff. Buy, buy, buy. Consume, consume, consume. That is what the market tells us to do, right?
Fortunately, through my undergraduate career and my graduate career, I incurred no student debt (thank goodness), but I do know a LOT of people who have. Some people are suffocating under the weight of student loans, medical bills, or credit card debt. It can be overwhelming, especially when there’s things you need to pay for, like, for instance, groceries.
Recently, finding myself in the midst of an interstate move, plus getting laid off, I found myself in the midst of a little bit of financial stress. Not nearly as bad as some, but definitely not a position I was comfortable in. I began to do some research, and found a few money (and life) bloggers that I really began to follow. One of them, known as Mr. Money Mustache, has some highly practical advice on how to cut expenses and live with less. Another crew, The Minimalists, don’t necessarily speak to frugality completely, but one of the duo, Ryan Nicodemus, set out on the path of minimalism to get himself out of debt. The other half of the duo, Joshua Fields-Milburn, speaks about a childhood of poverty, food stamps, and then entering his twenties and not necessarily knowing how to meet his goals financially (check out The Minimalists’ podcast, by the way, it is phenomenal, and their documentary is on Netflix!). What I learned from these bloggers, as well as Dave Ramsey, is that even though I was doing okay, I wasn’t focusing my potential in the right areas.
See, part of having money (or, not having money), is knowing what to do with it (and not do with it). You can have all the money in the world and still not know how to be frugal with it.
If you’re like myself, and you need a little bit of encouragement in the financial arena, stick around. I’ve got a list of a few things that might help you on your path.
Part of living holistically is living with intention. Be intentional about how you spend money. Be intentional with how you focus your time. Be intentional with your life, and you’ll start to notice a difference.
I’ll probably do a follow up (or two) to this list, but here are my ten tips to living frugally. This is my no means a “quick fix”, nor does it work for everyone. I can only say that it works well for me, and that I’ve had success with it!
1.) Ditch the car, use your bike.
I don’t mean “get rid of your car.” However, when reading Mr. Money Mustache, one of the largest takeaways I got from a lot of his blog posts was riding your bike more often. Not only are you saving money on gas (where I live, gas isn’t too expensive, but it’s not necessarily cheap, either), but you’re saving money on car upkeep, and you’re improving your health, too. My hometown is becoming a lot more bicycle friendly, but you can grocery shop with a bike, you can ride around most places in town on a bike, and you can even tote your kids around, too. Granted, if you’re in a crazy rural area, this may not help, but for me, biking around town works, and it saves money.
2.) Meal plan
It’s easy to cut on groceries when you’re planning everything you eat. One young couple recently told me “it’s cheaper to go out!” to which I responded, “not for me!” For three weeks, my average grocery bill is $45. With leftovers, that’s at least four meals a week. Granted, for larger families, it’ll definitely be more expensive, but trust me, meal planning is worth it. Not only are you being mindful about what you put in your food, but you’re being mindful about what you’re feeding your family and how you plan your time.
3.) Spend a little more on higher quality products
Being “frugal” doesn’t always mean buying the cheapest stuff. Sometimes, “frugal” means buying better quality stuff that you can keep and not spend as much money repairing. Joshua Fields-Milburn speaks to this in the Netflix documentary. When you’re buying things, buy with intention. That way, it does mean more to you, and it isn’t disposable. It’s tempting to buy new clothes, or new furniture, etc. However, if you buy with intention, and you actually put thought into it, it’ll actually be something you enjoy having around.
4.) Look for free entertainment.
I know my local area has tons of cool stuff that’s free to do (street festivals, free concerts, movies in the park), and that’s what you should look for. Quit spending money on entertainment, and find it for free. Get a library card, see what programs your libraries and parks have, and get involved.
5.) Cut your cable
I saved so much money when I signed up for Hulu and Netflix. I still pay for internet, because of the nature of my work, but quite honestly, it saves so much money to get rid of cable. How many channels do you actually watch, anyway? If you really need live streaming, get something like Sling TV. No yearly contracts, same rate. It’s much cheaper than cable TV.
6.) Make your own products
I can’t tell you how much money I saved making my own laundry detergent, dryer balls, dishwasher powder, and hand soap. For hand soap, I ordered Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap, and mixed it with my favorite essential oils (I love lemon for the kitchen and peppermint for the bathroom), and put the hand soap into pumps. It saves so much money to make your own products. It costs me roughly $4.50 for two gallons of laundry detergent, and about $2.50 for dishwasher powder, that lasts twice as long as the regular stuff. I also recommend going paperless in the kitchen, and stop wasting money on paper towels, paper plates, etc, and just buy rags, a few places, and wash them after use. You’d be surprised how much you save!
7.) Watch for sales, and stock up
I watch the sales papers constantly, and buy things on sale. This works particularly well for sugar, flour, cans of soup, etc. Stock up on what you need, and you can meal plan around it. Plus, you can keep inventory of what you have.
8.) Don’t listen to the credit card invites
It’s tempting, especially when they send you offers in the mail all the time. Trust me, though, the interest rate is insane, and if you don’t have the money to pay it back, it could wreck your credit score in the long run. Don’t apply for credit cards. Just avoid them, if you can.
9.) You don’t need “new and shiny” all the time.
You don’t need a “brand new” car. They depreciate in value as soon as they leave the lot. Instead, look for a reliable used car. New is appealing, but the new doesn’t last. Buy with intention, buy for what you need, and you’ll be money ahead in the long run. It’s tempting to own a Lexus, or a BMW, but trust me, a Ford will get you where you need to go just fine (and in my case, so does my bike).
10.) Save, save, save.
In the past, I was terrible at this. Growing up poor, I always felt like whatever I had was never enough. I was on, what I like to refer to it, a steady white-trash diet of Ramen, bologna sandwiches, Dinty Moore beef stew, and peanut butter. It really isn’t fun to eat Ramen when your friends are eating Vietnamese take out, but in the long run, I promise you, it’s worth it.
There isn’t a quick fix to money problems, but you can avoid a lot of the traps that people find themselves in. It does take a little bit of elbow grease and ingenuity, but you can make it work, and you can thrive on less.
Have you tried living frugally? What are your favorite tips, or who are your favorite bloggers? Comment below, or comment on Instagram @americanoutliers! Thanks for reading!
It’s staggering that Americans in 2017 would be lacking in access to healthy food.
However, for many in large cities, this is an ever-present reality.
A recent report by the United States Department of Agriculture gives some pretty harsh statistics. According to a USDA map, most Americans are classified as living in a food desert, an area in which there is not quick access to fresh food.
The statistics aren’t all that surprising, especially considering that of the 23.5 million people living in low income areas, most live more than a mile from the supermarket. This also doesn’t account for rural areas in which there are no grocery stores or supermarkets. In the small community of Cherokee, Alabama, over thirty people are jobless after the local supermarket, Piggly Wiggly, suddenly closed. This means that citizens of Cherokee have to drive nearly twenty miles one way just to shop for groceries. In larger cities like Chicago, many living in poverty do not have access to vehicles, which makes it difficult to get to stores to shop for food.
Aside from poverty, more people are choosing to live in larger cities. Places like San Francisco, where rent is over double the national average, are seeing some of the highest rises in food costs.
Couple this with the fact that less people are cooking than ever before, and the situation has all the makings of a massive food crisis.
What do I mean by that?
In the event of a massive financial crisis, a massive drought, or a natural disaster, the food could run out, and run out pretty quickly. For those that aren’t prepared, this could spell starvation.
Seems extreme, doesn’t it?
The truth of the matter is, Americans are growing less food, and cooking less, than ever before. Couple this with the problem of food deserts, and it really highlights the major issues of hunger and farming crises. With more farmers heading to the city for work, and less people seeking farming as a career, we are potentially headed for a massive lapse in food security. There are still people in this country that struggle with hunger, particularly in places like Appalachia.
So, how do we fix these problems?
The answer is twofold:
First, people need to be far more aware of what they consume, and second, we need to support our nation’s farmers.
There is also a third solution, and that is to start growing (or hunting) some of what we eat.
I understand a lot of people might wonder how this could be possible, especially when living in large cities, but there are actually a few simple solutions that might make things fairly easy. You’d be surprised to learn that a lot of things, like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and herbs, actually don’t take up that much space, and can be grown in containers. You can buy them as seeds and start them as plants, or you can buy the plants and transplant them. When it comes to herbs, they’re so easy to grow that you can even grow them indoors. When it comes to tomatoes, they only need a decent planter. Same for cucumbers and squash. You can also grow certain things like lettuce, radishes, and carrots in small spaces, like, for instance, an apartment balcony. In fact, some of those things grow better in separate containers!
Are you one of the many who live in a large city? Want to start container gardening but aren’t quite sure how?
Here’s an easy guide:
1.) You need the right type of containers.
Deeper planters, with good drainage and circulation. If you don’t have good drainage, you’ll flood your plants, and they won’t produce. In desert climates, you’ll need to water more frequently, but you still need to be mindful of the amount. In more humid climates where it rains more, be mindful of how well your containers drain when the rains come. Rain water is great, but, if your containers flood, the soil will be saturated and your plants won’t produce. If you choose window boxes, make sure the containers have adequate drainage and ventilation, because your plants need oxygen. I’ll link some of my favorite planters below, so that you can have an idea of what to look for. For things like potatoes, you can even use garbage cans! Just do your research and see what works best for you and your space.
2.) Placement is everything.
Plants like peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc, need lots of exposure to sunlight. South facing walls are a great start, but make sure to place your plants where they’ll get the most sunlight. However, be careful that you’re not scorching your plants. Particularly in places like California and Arizona, where there’s a desert climate, you’ll want to make sure that your plants are partially shaded in the roughest part of the day. In places like Louisiana and Florida, make sure that your plants are able to have good ventilation, and be mindful of plants in greenhouses, because it can get too hot for them coupled with the humidity.
3.) Seeds or plants?
That’s the question I’ve gotten from quite a few people looking to start gardens. For certain things, like peppers, I actually prefer to start from seeds, and then transplant to planters when they’re mature. Why? I haven’t had any luck with pepper plants from the store. Plus, some of the peppers that I like to grow (like Datil and Trinidad Scorpion) aren’t really sold locally. For tomatoes, it depends. I prefer to grow roma and cherry, because those are my favorites for marinara and bolognese sauce and sun-dried (oven dried) tomatoes. Those are my go-tos, and it honestly depends. Normally, I can just buy the plants, and they do pretty well, so long as they have decent containers and adequate drainage. For things like cucumbers, zucchini, and crookneck squash, I prefer to use plants for them. For herbs, I also prefer to buy plants. However, for things like beans, carrots, lettuce, etc, I prefer to start from seeds and go from there. It all depends on your gardening skill and how long your growing season is. If you have a shorter growing season, I’d say either start in a greenhouse or go from plants. Longer growing seasons aren’t as time sensitive. Check your climate, and your growing season, and go from there.
4.) What do you do when they’re ready?
Eat them, of course! There’s really so much versatility. Last year, I canned quite a bit of marinara and bolognese, I froze a ton of pesto sauce from my basil and garlic, and I canned quite a bit of the potatoes I harvested. If you shop at the farmer’s market, you can freeze, or dehydrate a lot of fruit and vegetables that you buy. My oven actually has a dehydration setting, but you can buy dehydrators from Amazon or elsewhere for fairly cheap. You can can your garlic, and store it for years. You can make soups, gravy mixes, and you can even can butter and alfredo sauce! Soon, I’ll link the canning book that I have, but I swear by pressure canning. It’s such an economical way to preserve food, and you can preserve large batches for your family and save so much money. You can even can condensed soups, too, and keep unwanted chemicals out!
It sounds like a simple solution, but a lot of people haven’t even thought about it. I encourage people to shop at local farmer’s markets, grow their own food when possible, and if you live in a more rural area, hunt, or buy from local beef, pork, or chicken farmers. In the past, I’ve bought beef from local farmers, and pork, too. Find out what programs are available near you, and utilize them. Support your local farmers, milk-share programs, and your local economy. A lot of farmer’s markets even work hard to utilize how to feed the hungry in their communities, too.
Part of living an outlier lifestyle (hence the name, American Outliers), is doing things in an outlying way. Some of that includes living a holistic, natural lifestyle. Doing so is actually cost effective, and it cuts out a lot of the chemicals that are in your every day products.
Have you tried container gardening? Got questions? Leave a comment, or message me on Instagram @americanoutliers! Thank you guys so much!
I’ve started writing a lot about going holistic and buying things with intention, and today, I wanted to talk about something that is very near and dear to my heart: cast iron.
It seems like something so mundane, right? Why on earth should cast iron be such a big part of living a holistic, homesteading lifestyle?
Well, I’ll tell you: it’s probably one of the most economic, health-conscious pieces you can buy.
I grew up cooking in cast iron. My mom actually restores and cleans antique cast iron, so I learned a lot about care and repair from her. She always cooked in it, and then, as I grew up, I learned to cook in it, too. From the old stuff (Birmingham Stove and Range, Martin Stove and Range), to the “newer” stuff (Lodge), I developed a love for cooking in cast iron, and when I began to make the shift toward a more holistic lifestyle, I quickly found that my kitchen actually didn’t need too much improving.
Cast iron is versatile. You can bake in it, cook meat in it, and even make soups and stews in it. I’ve made everything from biscuits to steak, to even beef stew. The thing that is attractive about cast iron is that it doesn’t leech toxins into your food like teflon and other non-stick surfaces, all the while, if you care for it, the cast-iron surface is actually non-stick.
I’ve actually met a lot of people who are very interested in learning how to cook, that don’t know what type of cast iron they should be shopping for. A few of my friends began to look at more expensive brands when it came to Dutch ovens and enamelware, but, you actually don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars.
When it comes to cast iron, unless it’s an antique (and sometimes, even then, too), I generally point people to one name: Lodge.
They’re an American owned, American made company, just a few hours from me in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee. Last year, I made the decision to seek out and support as many American made companies and products as I could, which has included Lodge for many years. Lodge has been in the same place since 1910, after they rebuilt from a fire which destroyed the first foundry. Buying with intention means that you not only support the company’s values, but you’re supporting people’s jobs, livelihoods, and a local economy. As someone who has seen my own town suffer because of factory closures, it’s important to me that other communities in the foothills of the Appalachias, like myself, have the chance to thrive.
Their quality is rarely matched. I have a couple of pieces that are nearly a hundred years old, and they’re still just as useful and efficient as they were when they were made. Taking care of the products plays a big part in it, but Lodge quality is perhaps some of the best in the culinary game. Simply put: you get what you pay for.
They give back to the community. After a series of wildfires caused a huge loss to the Smoky Mountains, Lodge began a fundraiser to give back. They raised over $100,000, which was given to Dollywood Foundation’s My People Fund, which gave relief to families that had lost their homes. Though Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville are all places that attract lots of tourist attention, a lot of people don’t realize that many in the area live right on the poverty line. When we talk about buying products that help support the community, I look at Lodge, because not only do they support the local economy, but they’re aware of the community’s issues.
They’re low maintenance. I love the fact that cast iron cleans up so well. Seriously, all you have to do is scrub it clean with a little salt, dry it, and season it with an oil (I like grapeseed and flaxseed, but you can also use olive, vegetable, avocado, or whatever you have lying around). A little bit of care can keep them in great condition for a hundred years or more. In a world where we’re constantly trying to eliminate waste, buy mindfully, and think about what’s going into our bodies, Lodge Cast Iron is perhaps one of the best companies to support.
Want to buy a piece or two? Here’s a short list of a few of my favorites, that I think everyone should have on hand:
1.) Size 12. This one is perfect when you’re cooking steaks, chicken, or baking a pizza. It’s also perfect if you’re wanting to make a casserole.
2.) Size 10. Slightly smaller, but this one is perfect for frying up things like potatoes. It’s also great for making a larger pan of corn bread in.
3.) Size 5. I love this size for making a small batch of biscuits, or for making a small side dish. It’s also great for scrambled eggs, too.
4.) Size 10.5, square skillet. This one is perfect for hamburgers (to be fair, the 12 is too, but I absolutely love this one). When seasoned well, this gives some of the best flavor to burgers, plus it’s also really great for fish.
Below are some links to Lodge Cast Iron, as well as a link to their website. I’m not being paid to write this post, I’m just a long-time customer of the company and want them to receive as much support as they can get.
Do you use cast iron? What’s your favorite skillet? Comment below and let me know, and follow the links to find out more about this great company!
One hundred years ago, everyone cooked.
Cooking was a staple in American culture. People couldn’t afford to go out to eat as often, and take out wasn’t even a thing yet. During the Great Depression, frugal living and cooking made all the difference for many Americans who saw themselves in the midst of financial crisis. During WWII, families had to learn to live with rations, and making due with certain ingredients that weren’t as easily accessible. Most Americans cooked, and most families ate together at home. Staple items, like bread, were often baked at home. Cakes, pies, and other desserts were baked at home. Southern cuisine, like hoppin’ john, black eyed peas, and turnip greens, were often grown at home canned at home, and cooked at home.
Today, roughly one-third of Americans can’t cook. Over half of Americans say they have someone in their family (spouse or other) that does most of the cooking.
That means Americans are eating out, and eating frozen meals, more than ever.
With the rates of obesity in this country, it’s no secret that eating fast food, takeout, and from restaurants contributes to the unhealthy lifestyles that many Americans lead.
For those of you that are looking to maximize your holistic lifestyles, cooking is one of the best ways to take charge of your health and your life. Cooking will not only insure you know what’s in your food, but it’s also a way to bring your family together for more quality time with each other.
How do you make your food prep more holistic and natural? Here are eight basic tips for making the most out of your meals!
1.) Check your cookware
Is it teflon, non-stick, or plastic? Those are a no-go. They’re filled with harmful chemicals that leech into your food and can make you sick. Instead, invest in things like stainless steel, cast-iron, and glass baking dishes. Some of my favorites are Lodge, Anchor-Hawking, Tramontina, and Revere Cookware. I love the quality, and that they’re all non-toxic options for use every day. I also recommend buying glasses, using ceramic bowls/plates rather than paper, and looking for non-toxic dish soap/dishwasher detergent.
2.) Use better oils
Don’t use things like canola or vegetable. Use oils like grapeseed, coconut, avocado, ghee, or olive oil, depending on the temperature of your dish. Some of my favorites are grapeseed and avocado for their versatility, but I also really like using butter for things like steak and blackened chicken. Using better oils insures a better flavor for your food, and a healthier fat content for what you’re eating.
3.) Get rid of artificial dyes and flavorings in your pantry
It’s tempting to eat stuff like boxed snack cakes, and make drinks like Kool-aid, which is completely artificial and laden with lots of sugar. Start eating more natural products; you can make your own potato chips, your own goldfish, and things like yogurt bark for something sweeter. Look for healthier alternatives with limited ingredients!
4.) Shop at local farmer’s markets, or grow your own
One of the easiest ways to get healthier is to start shopping local. Not only will it help farmers in your area, but it will also help give you the peace of mind to know where your food is coming from. You’ll definitely be able to taste the difference, and it will be packed with nutrients for you and your family.
5.) Organic spices are your friend
Try experimenting with things like making your own taco seasoning, your own hot chocolate, and your own Italian seasonings. Buy organic spices (some of my favorite places are Mountain Rose Herbs and Bulk Apothecary), and you’ll be able to taste the difference. My pantry staples are garlic salt, Himalayan sea salt, paprika, and white pepper.
6.) Grow and dry your own herbs
I love growing things like mint, oregano, rosemary, and parsley. Drying your own herbs to use in your cooking will not only save you money, but it will help you keep track of everything that goes in your food. It’s an extra way to add flavor without upping the salt or fat contents, too!
7.) Buy your meat local
When possible, try to buy from your local butcher, over larger chain stores. Buying local not only supports local business, but it insures that you know where the meat is coming from. I try to buy from a place that gets its chicken, beef, and pork from local farmers, which not only helps me support farmers in my area, but it also helps me get locally sourced, humanely raised meat.
8.) Make your own salad dressings, marinades, and mixes
By making your own salad dressings and marinades, not only will you be cutting calories, but you’ll be able to make it taste however you want. I also like to make my own marinades and mixes, too. I currently make a taco mix, a fajita mix, a beef stew mix, and a chicken soup mix. I love to make vinaigrettes for salads I make at home, as well. It’s all super easy, and delicious! Plus, it saves money, and you know exactly what’s in it.
Have you tried to go more holistic in your food? How has it turned it for you? What are some of your favorite tips? Comment below and fill me in!
The new year is always a perfect time for resolutions.
For me, my resolution is to continue to make the switch to a more holistic lifestyle. My goal for 2018 is to move forward on my plans for a homestead, which includes purchasing chickens, buying a spinning wheel, building a quilting frame, and growing my garden.
For a lot of people, this sounds like a basic shift; for me, this is the first step in becoming mostly self-sufficient. Getting away from the city and getting back to my Appalachian roots, which means learning how to do more things for myself, or buying from companies that make more holistic products.
I’ve already made the switch in some ways; I buy from the Co-op and local farmer’s markets (if you’re in the Shoals area, check out this local farmers market!), I can a lot of my own food, I grow herbs, and I buy from companies like Bulk Apothecary and Mountain Rose Herbs. I’ve also been preparing to go zero waste, and start composting. The common misconception is that switching to a holistic lifestyle is more expensive, and unattainable for those like me (who are living on very tight budgets).
The truth is, it’s actually easier, and cheaper, to switch to a holistic, self-sustaining lifestyle. How? Here are 5 tips to maximize going holistic.
1.) Container Gardening
A lot of people assume that growing a garden requires a lot of space, but that isn’t the case. In fact, all you need are a few containers with proper drainage, a few packets of seeds, and good soil. If you compost, even better! You can use that to help fertilize the soil. Some of the best things to grow in containers are carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs like mint, parsley, oregano, and thyme. You can even grow potatoes in a garbage can, and produce them for months. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, and depending on your farming zone, you can grow pretty much all year round. Below is a link to some seed packets and starter kits!
2.) Make your own beauty products
I love face masks. I also love hair masks, lotions, soaps, etc. However, a lot of the stuff in stores can make your face break out, or it can throw off the ph balance in your skin or hair. Solution? Make your own. I bought face clay, activated charcoal, and used essential oils, and made the best face mask I’ve ever used. You can make your own face wash, too, (my favorite recipe is 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp baking soda, 5 drops tea tree oil, 3 drops frankincense). I still make my own and use it frequently!
3.) Become zero waste
Did you know that roughly 75% of things we throw away is actually recyclable? We only recycle roughly 30% of that, too. We can reduce how much garbage we produce by doing simple things; bringing grocery bags to the store, using glass instead of plastic, and using cloth instead of paper. You can even make your own baby wipes, paper towels, household cleaners. Composting food scraps is a great way to not only improve your garden, but reduce how much trash you produce. Using things like bamboo brushes and toothbrushes is also away to reduce how much plastic you buy. Plus, by using cloth instead of plastic, you also save money. When you look at how much you save, it’s actually more economic to go zero waste.
4.) Buy smarter, not cheaper
I know this seems counter intuitive, but it actually makes more sense to buy things that are a little more expensive, if it means that it’s a better product. Buying glass instead of plastic, or buying clothes from sustainable sources are some examples of areas that you can buy smarter. Too often, we buy the cheapest things, and we constantly have to replace them. Instead, buy better products that don’t need to be replaced. One area I saved a lot of money in is kitchen products. I cook with things like cast iron, which, if cared for correctly, will last hundreds of years. For me, investing in better quality products has made all the difference, and actually saved me money.
5.) Cook your meals
Seems simple, right? But the truth is, more and more people are eating out. When you eat out, not only are you wasting money, but we don’t know what’s in the food, especially in chain restaurants. Cooking can save you thousands of dollars a year, plus you know exactly what you put in it. For me, it’s drastically reduced my food budget, by hundreds of dollars. Growing my own food has saved me money as well, especially when it comes to herbs and spices. Even buying from farmer’s markets, you can drastically reduce your food budget. Learn about the best resources in your area, and what works best for you.
Moving more toward a holistic lifestyle can actually save your family hundreds of dollars a year. It’s safer, healthier, and sometimes easier to transition to a more natural way of life. Have you tried a holistic lifestyle, and how has it worked for you? Comment below and let me know!
Thanks for reading!
Links to gardening kits:
Links to organic products:
The writer Thomas Paine wrote in The Crisis, “these are the times that try men’s souls.” Indeed, the present time in our nation is a time that will try the souls of even the strongest men. Our vast democratic republic has fallen into a state of arrant cataclysm; an abhorrent upheaval of the intentions and plans set forth for us by our forefathers. We have reached an impasse in the great experiment of America, the likes of which we may never fully recover. We have found ourselves in an egregious state of affairs by our own hand; our actions and our apathy have led us to this point. We have become a nation of parsimonious cowards, refusing to take the blame for our own failures. We have allowed into our midst the very things we fought against for hundreds of years, and now we must reap the fruits of what we have sown. In short, we have allowed ourselves to stand on the verge of collapse, and rather than step away from the edge, we continue to teeter ever so densely off the edge, as if we believe the fall to the bottom will not kill us. We have become arrogant in our actions, which has led us to where we are now.
This is not the first time our beloved nation has been so vehemently divided. Nearly two centuries ago, our nation fought—often brother against brother—in the bloodiest war many of our forefathers had ever seen. The equivalent of 6 million men died during that war, with many more left permanently disfigured and scarred. The war destroyed us, and we held the idea of unity in high regard for many years following, fearful of the possibility that we would see that kind of conflict on our soil once again. For years, we clung to the fantastical idea that we would suffer and rejoice as a united nation, a beacon of hope and freedom for the rest of the world. During the first World War, we were united. During the second World War, we were the victorious conquerors, the allies of freedom and champions of justice. During the time of Kennedy, we waged a silent war on communism and the Soviet Union. Our country had seen great strife, but we were the victors. We met every challenge with adversity. We continued where others failed.
Almost sixty years after President Kennedy, we are here, closer to another bloody war than we’ve ever been before.
North Korea, whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, is slowly gaining the capability to build nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. What North Korea lacks in technology, they make up for in expendable workers. Kim Jong Un is a ruthless man, an evil coward at his very core. It is of no consequence to him to keep killing engineers and scientists until he finally gets what he wants: the power to destroy his enemies. The Middle East is a wasteland of pestilence; we have spent billions of dollars and thousands of American lives on a conflict that cannot be won, fighting an enemy that has yet to be conquered. ISIS has taken control, and we willingly created a power vacuum when we removed Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, whether we wish to admit it or not. We are also responsible for the crisis in Syria, as we helped put Bashar al-Assad into power. We are the ones that got firearms into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels. We are the ones that gave money to Iran. We are the ones that have allowed China to become the superpower that they are. We are the ones that allowed Osama Bin Laden to walk free the first time. We propped up Fidel Castro and supported his rise to power in the beginning.
In short, we have been responsible for calamity and catastrophe across the globe for decades, and then we pretended as if it never happened.
Currently, we are over $20 trillion in debt. We have a failing healthcare system. We have a failing education system. Our fiat economic system is on the brink of collapse, inflation continuing to increase. Americans have more debt than ever before, many of whom have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of student loans for university education. And still, with more people obtaining four year degrees, many are unable to find decent paying work. Social security will not be able to continue with our current financial situation. Fourteen percent of our adult population is considered illiterate. Twenty-three percent of Americans can only read at a basic literacy level or below proficiency. Around 30 million adults can only read at or below a fifth grade reading level. In places like rural Beattyville Kentucky, the life expectancy is drastically lower, with the median household income so low that poverty becomes an understatement.
We have allowed ourselves to be taxed into oblivion, and yet our federal government cannot seem to get its own spending under control. Cities like Detroit and New Orleans have been run into the ground by poor leadership and mismanagement of funds. Cities like Chicago, Baltimore, Stockton, New Orleans, and Memphis have become so violent that people are leaving in droves. We have allowed the government to use us and grow rich off of us, and yet we keep knowingly electing these shallow, selfish politicians every election cycle. We have allowed them to make a mockery of our constitution and our individual rights. We have watched in apathy as we slip further and further from the ideas of Federalism and liberty into Socialism and slavery. We have lived as cowards under the idea of peace, and embraced the yolk of indentured servitude under the guise of protection. We have become a society of fools, believing the lie that false security is worth the seceding of our personal liberties.
Worse than all of these affronts, however, is the startling fact that we willingly allowed it all to happen—and sometimes encouraged it.
We allowed people like Margaret Sanger to decide who lives and who dies, and as a result we kill the most innocent among us under the guise of protecting the rights of women. We no longer value human life, so we kill because we can gain from it. We steal from those who have nothing to give. We have become a lawless society that confuses order and tyrannical control with morality and law. We sexualize children and claim it’s under the guise equality. We normalize degeneracy in Gay Pride events, refusing to acknowledge those in the gay community who are actually activists, trying to do good in the world. We allow, encourage, and normalize pedophilia and the exploitation of children. No longer is Christianity widely practiced; rather, it is persecuted. Churches can no longer speak out against homosexual marriage, because of the argument “love is love”. Churches are being sued into bankruptcy by those who claim persecution. We have allowed the threat of radical Islam to creep in, taking a stronghold in places like California, Michigan, and New York. We have ignored the warnings that we have seen from Europe, and have welcomed the Trojan Horse into our lands with open arms, with many believing the lie that Islam is a religion of peace.
In short order, we have made a mockery of the great American experiment. We have made a mockery of everything that our forefathers intended. And yet, we continue with our apathy, choosing to fight each other in superfluous matters rather than focusing on important issues. In short order, if we worked together as we ought, we could solve the problems that so frequently plague us. Rather than find solutions, we have spent our time bickering, using social media platforms to dissolve our communication and our relationships with others. No longer do we have healthy debates regarding the issues; we fight one another because we as a collective have lapsed into selfishness. How ashamed of ourselves we should be! While countries like Venezuela are clamoring for food, we fight over issues that no longer matter—that haven’t mattered for some time. We have allowed our economy to wither and our society to crumble, and we’ve done it all while being as easily distracted as primates at a zoo. Perhaps that is all that we’ve devolved to?
Truthfully, we have none to blame but ourselves for the state of affairs we have found ourselves in. We allowed it to happen, under the guise of progress and moving forward. In an attempt to be enlightened, we have forgotten the men like de Tocqueville, Paine, Locke, and Spinosa. In an attempt to sound compassionate, we have censored speech to the point that we are living in an Orwellian nightmare. In an attempt to give justice, we have punished those who did no wrong. In an attempt to police the world, we have forgotten ourselves. In short, we have forgotten our purpose. We are no longer a nation of innovators. We have become a nation of fools.
It is truly a terrifying notion to think that the age of men like Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Nikola Tesla, and JP Morgan no longer exists. Unfortunately, society has demonstrated that we no longer yearn for knowledge and success, rather, we can only focus on the immediate desires of our minds—the carrot dangling in front of us. No longer are we a nation of problem solvers; we have become a nation of victims. Too many adolescents and young adults—and even some middle aged men and women—have no concept of the true history of our beloved country. Further still, too many Americans have no understanding of our laws or how our government is supposed to function. Too many assume that the yolk of slavery we have been living under is normal. We have conditioned ourselves to believe that giving up our liberties for the idea of security is a better alternative than the potential for terrorist attacks on our soil. We say that we don’t want to see the horror again; millions of Americans clearly remembering the attacks that occurred on September 11th, 2001 in New York and Washington DC. The horrible truth, however, is that if those attacks occurred in today’s society, we would turn our televisions off, rather than deal with the problem. In this mentality lies part of our problem: we say that we cannot ignore the atrocities around the globe, but when there is trouble for our own people, we turn our eyes from it. We must remember the words of the philosopher Plato: “only the dead have seen the end of war.”
To fix a problem, we must acknowledge that the problem exists in the first place. We must acknowledge our own failures, as much as we acknowledge our victories. We must work together, rather than dividing each other. We must become a nation dedicated to freedom and liberty once again, rather than looking to blame others for our own mistakes. We must understand that the beauty in a democratic republic—which is what we are—is that it is our differences that make us unique, and our differences that unite us. We are a nation of people who have seen war and famine. We have fought communism and evil across the globe. We have stood up against injustice and won. We have produced innovators and thinkers, and put men on the moon. We have proved that grit and determination could see us through. We must remember the roots from whence we came.
We can no longer afford to be failures. We can no longer afford to follow the pattern of the rest of the world. We are the United States of America, the great experiment from a few bold men. If we continue down this path of failure—of lunacy—we will never be victors again. It is time for the silent majority to rise to the occasion and restore our beloved homeland to the glory it once was. There is no longer time to wait, we must act swiftly and with courage.
If this country fails, the blood will be on our own hands. It is up to us to give the future generations something to be proud of. It is up to us to do what is right because it is right. We are the captains of our own fate. It is time to determine whether or not we want that fate to be glorious or doomed.
Thank you all for continuing to read. Below, I've linked Thomas Paine's works, if you want to take a look. Also, if you want to donate to keep the website going, please do! This blog is made possible by readers like you. Thank you all!
As a millennial, I am used to hearing things like, “millennials are ruining this country”, and “you millennial kids almost elected a socialist”, and “millennials have zero life skills”. I hear about it all the time. I get it, boomers hate millennials. Gen Xers hate millennials. Honestly, I hate most millennials.
However, growing up in rural northern Alabama, with older, doomsday prepper parents, a grandmother that grew up on a farm and is still growing a garden at 76, and an aunt who regularly makes her own soaps, spins her own yarn, and forages for lifesaving plants, I am more like a Baby Boomer than I am a millennial.
As someone who myself believes that the end is indeed nigh, I have noticed that an overabundance of my generation is, in fact, useless when it comes to “doing for ourselves.” In fact, the statistics don’t lie:this article by Forbes shows that millennials are really struggling in the life skills department. This article mentions that most millennials don’t know how to cook, sew, or know anything about basic home repair. More millennials can afford to eat out, which means that many choose ready-made meals or fast food. Many millennials grew up in homes where cooking was not an every day occurrence, and even fewer millennials know basic sewing skills, like how to sew on a button.
I wonder how many millennials have actually thought about how long they would live if there were, in fact a zombie apocalypse?
Okay, maybe not a zombie apocalypse, but have you considered the Yellowstone Supervolcano? The San Andreas Fault? What about an EMP blast that would take out the power grid? Or what about a disease like the superflu from the movie Contagion? What if, somehow, Ebola or Marburg were to have an outbreak in North America?
Well, folks, I got news for a lot of you: you’d probably die pretty quickly. Either by starvation, dehydration, or being killed by the hand of someone else; after all, it's a rough life once the apocalypse starts, gotta look out for number one.
I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just that so many of you have no clue how to survive. So many of us have become pretty dependent on electricity, smartphones, and internet that we have no clue how to survive if things went sideways in a hurry. As someone who grew up hearing, “PREPARE FOR THE END” speeches regularly, and was trained in doomsday preparation, I feel that I should impart to you all some of the things that I have learned. Without further delay, I present to you: the millennials guide to surviving the apocalypse, part one.
Water and Food: Your Main Priorities
So, the apocalypse is upon you. Maybe Kim Jong-Un succeeded in sending a nuclear missile, or maybe the Yellowstone supervolcano finally erupted. Either way, life as we know it is over, and you’d better get yourself together, or you will surely die. Or someone will try to eat you. The first things you need to be concerned with are food and water. The first thing I suggest in this situation is to be proactive. Before the apocalypse starts, you need to learn how to grow/hunt/forage for your own food, and how to preserve it. You can preserve pretty much anything in a pressure canner. I prefer them to water bath canners purely because it pressurizes the food and prevents bacteria from growing. Plus, the food is typically preserved for a lot longer. With freezing food, a lot of it will defrost and go rancid within a few days, so canning, drying, or storing stuff in a root cellar is your best bet. Though a canner can run on the pricey side, I’m going to link the Presto canner that I have below. You can make 6-8 quarts of marinara sauce at once, or can 6-8 quarts of potatoes fairly quickly. That way, you can preserve meats, vegetables, soups, stews, and stuff like bone broth for fairly cheap. Another way to preserve stuff like meat, vegetables, and fruits in a dehydrator. The Presto dehydrator I'm linking below is actually pretty cheap, and I personally love Presto products because they’re good quality and fairly affordable. I also recommend either growing and drying your own food, or buying things like dried rice, dried beans, and "non-perishable" food items. Check the sales papers, and use coupons. You can gets lots of stuff like rice, canned corn, green beans, and carrots on sale, and things like condensed soups, ravioli, and chicken noodle soup for pretty cheap, and you need to learn how to stock up. I also suggest learning how to do things like make your own spaghetti sauce, bread, and butter, all of which are easy to do. You can even preserve eggs, like it mentions in this article. If you want to stave off starvation, you’re gonna need to learn all about food preservation.
You’re also gonna need to figure out how to filter your water, too.
You can survive three minutes without air, three hours without shelter, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Likely, you’ll already have shelter, so your next priority is going to be water. Now, you have a few options. The best option is to start storing jars and bottles of water, but if you don’t have that option, you need to learn how to collect and filter out water, or guess what, folks? You guessed it, you’re going to die. Boiling water over a fire is one of the easiest methods, but you can also filter it with activated charcoal. You can do this by grinding charcoal from the wood, and turning wood into charcoal. You can also order charcoal pieces. If you can afford it, I recommend purchasing a few Sawyer Water Filters. They’re some of my favorites for water filtration. I also recommend learning how to collect rainwater, whether it be into giant drums, barrels, or bottles, it’s one of the best sources of water collection. Streams and creeks are good, but you still have to boil and filter, otherwise you’re liable to get sick from bacteria in the water. I’d filter the rainwater too, but if you set up a filtration system, you can save a lot of time and make sure you have water to drink so that you don’t die.
Speaking of Food, Know How to Grow It
That’s right, you’re gonna have to grow your own food. Now, I know some of you have no clue how to do this, but it’s so simple that you can regrow some stuff like green onions simply by sticking the roots in water, and most foods can be grown in containers in your home, as long as they have access to sunlight. Two of my favorite seeds companies are Bonnie and Heirloom, and you can order a variety of whatever you want. I suggest things like tomatoes, cabbage, herbs, okra, and squashes like crookneck and zucchini. I’d also recommend stuff like cucumbers, too. Learn what grows best in your climate, learn a little bit about soil, and try growing some plants on your window sill. You need to know how to grow food, and you need to be preserving seeds to grow when everyone starts eating each other. Walking Dead fans flipped out over the cannibals at Terminus, but the truth, friends, is that it ain’t that far off to suggest that cannibalism could start pretty quickly.
(Side note: during the apocalypse, start checking people’s hands. If they’ve got the shakes, they’ve got the human version of Mad Cow, called Kuru, and you need to watch your back...Or they’ll start munching on it.)
Waste Not, Want Not
My grandmother, who grew up during WWII and was the child of a cotton farmer who survived the Great Depression, taught me early on not to waste anything. This included washing and reusing Ziploc bags, repurposing fabric and household items for other uses, and learning how to forage for edible plants that grew in the yard. She was the first one who taught me that dandelions, pokeweed (poke salad), and honeysuckle. She, and my mother, also taught me how to do things like dry clothes on a clothesline, and use everything you can use. It’s important not to waste anything, because it could wind up being the difference between life and death for you.
In Part II of the Millennial’s Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse, I’ll detail everything you need to know about making shelter, learning to hunt and fish for food, and what you need to know about foraging for plants. If you like what you read, give it a share, or a like, and tell your friends!
Below are links to PayPal and Patreon, because this website operates from readers like you. I've also linked all the products that I've mentioned, so that they'll be easy for you to find. If you like them, let me know!
Until next time!
For many Americans, Thanksgiving signifies the beginning of the Christmas season (unless you’re one of those weirdos who put your tree up right after Halloween. That should be a crime, but that’s neither here nor there.) For some, Thanksgiving is a stressful time, for others, it’s very much looked forward to. Either way, it’s been a staple of American culture for many years, and it’s a significant part of American history. In recent years, some have suggested that Thanksgiving is a symbol of racism, that Thanksgiving shouldn’t be celebrated as a national holiday.
That’s why I’m writing this; to tell everyone the real history of Thanksgiving. Not what these lovely girls have to say in this video here.
See, Thanksgiving has a huge, sordid history, but it isn’t exactly a history of death and destruction. Well, kind of—but not the kind that you’d think. Without further adieu, I give you the History of Thanksgiving. Hopefully, you read this before your tryptophan induced turkey coma sets in on Thursday. Happy reading, friends.
For centuries, cultures have been celebrating the harvest in various ways. For some, Samhain signaled the end of the harvest. For others, harvest festivals took place just around the autumnal equinox, usually toward the end of September. Not only was it a festival to celebrate the end of the farming season, but it signaled the beginning of autumn, and the preparation for the coming winter. Later on, many Europeans had "festivals of Thanksgiving", in which they set aside time to give thanks to God for blessings, and for a successful harvest season.
Most Americans are taught that the "first Thanksgiving" took place between the Pilgrims and Native Americans in the New World in October of 1621. However, records indicate that the first Thanksgiving festivals were actually conducted by the Spaniards at St. Augustine, and by French Huguenots near Jacksonville, Florida in 1564. The French Calvinists believed they had found freedom from religious persecution in the New World, and in short order, had established a settlement and begun to build a life. They'd even developed a relationship with the local Native American tribe, the Timucuans, and had even been able to press grapes for wine. Unfortunately for these poor souls, they met their end just a year later, in 1565. It seems the Spanish, who had claimed Florida as their own, didn't care for "French heretics" who kept attacking Spanish ships as they traveled by. Because of that, King Phillip of Spain issued orders to "hang and burn the Lutherans", and Spanish officials did just that. A few weeks later, the Spanish also massacred 300 French shipwreck survivors near St. Augustine. This only served to disintegrate the relationship between Catholics and Protestants.
Remember that this Thanksgiving when that one aunt you can't seem to get along with makes a snarky remark about you majoring in philosophy.
Thanksgiving services were recorded in Virginia as early as 1607. The first permanent English settlement, Jamestown, held regular Thanksgiving services. Another group of English settlers who wound up at Berkeley Hundred had their first Thanksgiving service in 1619. Unfortunately for them, the settlement was obliterated a few years later, with the Indian Massacre of 1622, when a group of Native Americans from the Powhatan tribe (the Virginia Algonquians) came in unarmed with things to sell to the settlers, and then grabbed any tools they could find and killed every man, woman, and child in the settlement. This was just one in a series of attacks that wound up killing a quarter of the English population in Virginia; 347 people. From then on, all Thanksgiving services or feasts were held at Jamestown, which was the only settlement that survived.
Native Americans have mentioned violence as a part of Thanksgiving; what they forget is that Native Americans incited a lot of the violence.
The "First Thanksgiving" is the one recorded at the Plymouth Plantation in 1621. It was prepared by the four adult women in the settlement, as well as a few children and servants. The feast celebrated a successful harvest for that season, and the feast continued sporadically through the years.
In truth, a lot of "Thanksgivings" were declared over the next hundred years or so. The first "officially" declared Thanksgiving occurred in 1777, when Continental Congress declared a national day of Thanksgiving. Later on, the first observed day of Thanksgiving was November 25, 1782. Over the next few years, days of Thanksgiving would be declared, but it wasn't quite a national holiday just yet; it was more of a "we'll do a Thanksgiving whenever we feel like it" kind of scenario.
During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November in 1863. This proclamation by Lincoln, done at the close of the Civil War, was kind of the first annual "Thanksgiving as a national holiday." That's really where we can trace celebrating Thanksgiving back to. Post Civil War era, Thanksgiving continued to be celebrated, and today, it's the holiday we know and love.
Thanksgiving Fun Facts:
Thanksgiving is a holiday that doesn't get near as much recognition. Lots of food and family togetherness, yet none of the pressure of buying gifts. Be sure to tune in tonight on The Red Elephants' YouTube channel, where I discuss the history of Thanksgiving with Rick Write! Be sure to like, share, and subscribe, and watch the YouTube channel at 8PM CST!
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Berkeley was known as the stronghold for the Free Speech Movement, Vietnam protests, and a garrison for the Civil Rights movement. Throughout the 40’s, Berkeley was the setting for protests against fascism. Though Berkeley has always been historically more liberal, it has also been a beacon for political activism and free speech—for everyone.
As referenced in my American Outliers interview with California activist Rick Write, Berkeley has most recently been in the midst of a firestorm of controversy. On February 1, 2016, former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was set to give a speech at UC Berkeley, signaling the end of his speaking tour. According to several people who came to hear Milo, the campus of Berkeley erupted in chaos. ATMs were smashed, people were pepper sprayed, flares were thrown at bystanders, and a generator was even tipped over and was set on fire. Milo had to be escorted out by his security detail. Later on, Ann Coulter decided to cancel her speaking engagement at Berkeley as well, for fear of her safety.
This spurred several protests, including the ones taking place at Berkeley on April 15th and April 27th, which spurred the fame of people like Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman, Based Windu, and Based Skywalker--all of whom came to Berkeley to protect protesters against the terrorist group Antifa.
Being one of the most liberal cities in the United States, Berkeley is a haven for members of the radical leftist group, Antifa. They have shown their propensity for violence in places like Berkeley, where they incited riots. In New Orleans, they showed up in a deuce-and-a-half, maced pro-monument supporters and cut one pro-monument supporter’s leg open with a box cutter. In Boston and Philadelphia, they looted buildings and physically assaulted protesters. Most recently, in Europe, they have set the city of Hamburg, Germany, on fire, and assaulted journalists covering the G20 Summit.
For Antifa, Berkeley is perhaps the best place to be. With community support and a wide array of young, highly liberal college-aged citizens, Antifa can thrive. They are able to thrive so well that it has become a dangerous bastion for domestic terrorism and the suppression of free speech.
How do I know this?
I’ve seen it first hand.
On July 8th, 2017, I traveled to Berkeley with the media group The Red Elephants, Shuttershot 45, Very Fake News, and several other activists to conduct a social experiment: walk around Berkeley dressed in “Make America Great Again” hats, carrying American flags and Trump flags, just to see what the reaction would be.
It started out simply enough; we walked out of the parking garage and began walking toward the UC Berkeley campus. At first, we got a few questionable gazes and a few eye rolls from older people, and we even got praise from an older man who commended how brave we were to walk around Berkeley like that (though he could’ve meant stupid, too, because it definitely wasn’t the wisest idea). Once we got closer to the campus, things became much more heated.
One man with dreadlocks began to follow us, screaming obscenities and hurling insults. Several homeless people screamed “F*** TRUMP!”. Roadside merchants began to scream things at us as well, all the while, the man in the dreadlocks continued to follow us, screaming “F*** WHITE PEOPLE”, “F*** DONALD TRUMP”, “I HATE WHITE PEOPLE” and my personal favorite, “WHITE PEOPLE NEED TO DIE”.
One of the more infuriating aspects of this walk was that one family began to scream and curse us and even threaten us with physical violence, all the while pushing their toddlers in strollers. We aimed to be as non-confrontational as possible, and for the most part, tried to be respectful. See, the one thing people miss is that when people are hurling vile obscene insults in your direction, not responding doesn’t make you weak; it shows your character.
As we continued down the main strip in Berkeley, we saw several anarchists symbols. We also realized we were being followed by Antifa members. They were tweeting our location the whole time, all the while, the man in the dreadlocks continued to scream at us. One man who walked with us, who is known as Based Spiderman, was physically attacked at Berkeley on February 1st, and was the largest target of insults. Several people, identifying themselves as SHARPS (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice) followed after us, calling us fa**ots, telling us to “go f*** ourselves”, and called Based Spiderman a “coon”, a “house n***er”, and an “uncle Tom”.
However, the biggest issue was when the SHARP who had been screaming at us threatened to stab us.
Three separate times he began to draw his knife on us, getting closer to us as we tried to walk away. One woman with us continually called the police, but for nearly three blocks, the police did nothing. It was no longer about the flags or the fact that we were “conservatives”; it became evident that the man in dreads, as well as the SHARP, wanted us dead--or at the very least, wanted to physically incite violence.
What stood out to me the most was that, while there were a few hardcore Donald Trump supporters, the rest of the group was fairly moderate. If the people threatening to harm us had bothered to take a moment to discuss that, they would’ve figured that out. In fact, I’d wager to bet there were only a few “classical conservatives” among the group.
Eventually, we ended our march after the police showed up, after the third time the SHARP man came at us with the intent to stab us. We asked for police to keep a buffer around us as we walked to our cars—which they agreed to do. By the time we left, it become abundantly clear that we had proved our point: Berkeley is no longer a place for free speech.
After my experience, I realized two things: first, it was apparent that to speak outside the narrative is truly a dangerous thing. Second, there is such a strong cultural divide in this country that it is dividing people more than the media would like you to believe. Intellectual discourse is a thing of the past; no longer do people approach the political spectrum with a sense of rationality.
Will I go back to Berkeley? Probably not unless I have a large group of people with me.
Was it worth it? It showed me quite a bit. It showed me that America has a lot of work to do to unify the country. It showed me that above all else, we need to protect the United States Constitution. It showed me that we have to treat everyone with respect and kindness. And, above all, it showed me that we have to educate ourselves; to understand history and politics, economics and how our government is supposed to work.
More than anything, I learned that I may be considered “alt right” or a “radical conservative”, but I believe in freedom of speech. I believe in a small government. I believe in the Constitution. And most of all, more than anything else, I believe in America.
After the events in July, Milo Yiannopoulos held "Free Speech Week" in Berkeley in September, which The Red Elephants attended and live streamed at. During this event, Berkeley police finally began to arrest Antifa and By Any Means Necessary protestors, including middle school teacher Yvette Felarca.
Featured in the gallery are some of my shots from our walk through Berkeley. Also featured is footage from The Red Elephants, Shuttershot 45, and Very Fake News. I will link them all, please be sure to check them out!
Look for the next American Outliers interview, and make sure to share and subscribe!
Amanda D. Moss is a political writer and photographer from Florence, Alabama. Amanda is a graduate of University of North Alabama with degrees in history and geography. She created American Outliers in 2017 in hopes to bring awareness to issues not covered by the mainstream media.