Adventures in “Unconforming”

Do justice.
Learn from the world community.
Nurture people.
Cherish the natural order.
Nonconform freely.
~Living More with Less by Doris Janzen Longacre~

Read that again. “Nonconform freely.” It’s right there, waiting for us to let go of our inhibitions and be ourselves in this crazy world full of societal norms- gloriously creative life, waiting for us.

The other YAVs and I spent the first weekend of December on retreat in central Massachusetts. As part of our retreat we went Heifer International’s farm in Rutland, MA. The farm has a global village of exact replica houses from the countries they serve, some livestock, and a group of volunteers who live on grounds to keep the farm functional.

If you’re unfamiliar with Heifer International, I suggest learning about the organization. Heifer gifts livestock, garden supplies, well pumps, and schooling to families and communities in developing countries.

After our day long volunteer shift, we took pictures in the photo booth. This was a photo booth like none other. There were goats. Yes, goats. Two adorable goats were in this fenced in area of the barn, stacked with hay, near their buddies, just waiting to have their picture taken with assorted people from the day’s event. I say “just waiting” in a sarcastic voice. One was as sweet as can be and would just sit in your lap as long as you petted her and showed her some love. The other one had a mind of her own, didn’t like being held, and couldn’t sit still long enough to get a decent picture.

Maybe we should be like that goat…

Maybe we should be spontaneous and avoid being reigned in.

As a food justice YAV, I try to unconform (likely not a real word but humor me) in multiple aspects of my life. The four of us come from different backgrounds and are, together, trying to undo modern food culture, focused on convenience and cost, in our own lives.

Our house eats local food, we buy anything not grown locally (chocolate, coffee, sugar etc) from organic and fair trade sources, and we make strange but surprisingly delicious food like pea tendril tortilla chips. We compost kitchen scraps and will have a garden plot come spring. We ask farmers about their farming practices and have dinner conversations about GMOs, plant families, the declining bee population, and SNAP policy.

I have a mean independent streak that pulls me to living a life going somewhat against the grain but I’ve never really thought of my self as an “nonconformist”. Whether it’s working on a farm or my current adventure of being a Boston Food Justice YAV, my experiences in the past year have shown me that I do tend to stray from the norm. I want to have a garden, if not a farm, when I have my own home and family. I want to be close to Creation, close to my food, and know that the food I’m eating is grown responsibly. Its also another way of breaking the back of our abusive food system.


Break the back of whatever system you find stifling and oppressing.


Go with God and unconform freely, for His grace covers us.

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