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What is Crunchy?

jekandsuch asks a valid question – what the heck am I talking about when I say “crunchy?”  I think the term comes from the texture of granola, the stereotypical food of hippie types.  When I use it, I’m referring to people who might describe themselves as “crunchy” or “granola,” or who may say they embrace “natural family living.”  There’s no official checklist, but here are some practices common in the crunchy parenting world:

  • Natural childbirth and/or home birth
  • No infant circumcision
  • Breastfeeding according to WHO recommendations and using baby-led weaning
  • Baby-led solids
  • Cloth diapering
  • Reusable menstrual products
  • Fertility Awareness Method for birth control and conception
  • Co-sleeping (bed sharing)
  • Baby wearing (slings etc.)
  • Buying organic and local foods
  • Vegetarianism/Veganism
  • Rejection of “Western medicine” in favor of homeopathy, herbs, naturopathy, chiropractic, etc.
  • Not vaccinating or using an alternative vaccination schedule
  • Homeschooling
  • Gentle Discipline

I consider myself “semi-crunchy.”  Some of my crunchy choices were evidence-driven, some are matters of personal preference.  Some were the result of believing misinformation or getting psyched up about a great philosophy, before finding that applying it in the real world didn’t work for me.  But yes, I gave birth naturally in a free-standing birth center, I’m against infant circumcision, I breastfed exclusively to 6 months and for several years thereafter, cloth diapered, used FAM, wore my babies, and vaccinated my second child on a modified schedule for a while.  I’m currently exploring various discipline and parenting styles, some of which are very “Gentle Discipline” style and some of which are not terribly favored in those circles.

As you can see, many crunchies include both personal-preference or evidence-based practices as well as woo-driven and “alt-med” choices.  It’s frustrating to be a skeptic in these circles, because people tend to assume if you’ve breastfed a 4 year old, you’re on board with homeopathy and chiropractic.  And that frustration is a big driving force behind this blog!

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About Christine

I'm a full-time mother to two kids, an ex-lawyer, a breastfeeding counselor, a skeptic, and (to steal a phase from Penn & Teller) a "science cheerleader." You can reach me through my Facebook page.

Posted on October 25, 2011, in Natural Family Living and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. It’s all relative: when we lived in eastern NC, I was pretty much the only person I knew who breastfed for more than a couple of months, not to mention the only one using a sling and cloth diapers. I was as crunchy as they got around there.

    Then we moved west, near Asheville. Those things don’t even make a ripple.

  2. Cool, that makes sense. Some of it sounds ok, like the no circumcision thing, but its the rejection of proper medicine that weirds me out. Its fine if you are choosing that for yourself, but to apply it to a child really does not sit right with me. Its sort of only a step away from faith healing in my book, and there’s plenty of stories of how badly that turns out.

  3. I am curious if you still think “modified” vaccine schedules are a good idea?

    If so, you might want to become a visitor at Orac’s blog “Respectful Insolence”. He’s been fighting antivaxx nonsense for ages (and the “sane” vaccine people too).

  4. I don’t think modified schedules are a good idea anymore. In 2007 or so, I saw Bob Sears speak at a conference and he seemed convincing. I got his book, and I used the modified full schedule. But later I read Paul Offit’s critique of Sears’s book, and it was quite definitive. Sears clearly misrepresents the state of the science on vaccines and their components. So I went CDC-schedule without worry. Both of my kids are fully vaccinated, they have a flu vax appointment in a couple weeks, and they WILL both get Gardasil at the recommended time.

  5. I guess I’m another semi-crunchy mom, I’m still nursing my 15 month old, wore her when I could (I broke my shoulder when she was 4 months old, so that ended that for a long while), co-slept, let her tell me when she was ready for solids. But the closest I get to an alternative vax schedule is to request that she not get more than two injections in one visit. (We go back as soon as possible to get the rest) I considered myself crunchy based on these things and that I try to use a positive discipline style.

    I just started reading your blog a month or so ago and it is rapidly moving up my list. Thank you!

  6. Ummm… ok, so the sleep deprivation is getting the best of me… I know I’ve read your blog before today, but I guess I couldn’t have started reading it a month ago. Sorry! I’m still going to keep reading, but I might take a nap first!

  7. Kerrie, we’ve all been there. I’m pretty sure our brain cells get sucked out through the umbilical cord during gestation. (Or maybe it’s just the fatigue and the fact that you’re constantly interrupted as a mom that makes us a little flaky at times.)

    It’s great to hear from other semi-crunchy moms! Honestly I think a lot of what we do is trickling into mainstream culture, so that what is crunchy today will just be normal in a few decades. We’ll get to freak out our grandchildren by saying, “Back in my day, people put their babies in a separate room to sleep, and gave rice cereal to 4 month olds . . .”

    • Hey, if the cells went down the umbilical cord at least someone I care about is getting to take advantage of them! 🙂

      I hear what you are saying, I so hope that I’ll be telling my daughter that my breast feeding her past a year was the exception and not the rule!

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