How the Creative Class Lives Now

Susan Gregory Thomas

On paper, my husband and I look like rich snoots. I went to Columbia, published two books, and write for fancy newspapers and magazines. My husband is an upscale antiques restorer who’s worked in Los Angeles, Paris, Copenhagen, and New York.

Yet, as I write this, he’s bow hunting for deer—meat to feed our family of five. I’ve canned the last of our tomatoes and, later, the kids will collect eggs from our chicken coop.

Like many in the so-called “creative class,” our incomes suffered during the recession. We had more cultural capital than cash capital. So we’ve entered what you might call the hunter-gatherer economy.  

Before 2008, we’d eaten organic foods from pricey markets. Now, we’re barn-raising a mini-farm. I grow corn, eggplant, cucumbers, you name it, in the 20-foot strip next to our driveway. We buy dried beans and legumes in bulk, and eat venison everything.

I wasn’t into being Ma Ingalls at first. Going from artesinal saucisson to scrubbing chicken guano off the eggs was damn depressing. Plus: the flies. But four years into our back-to-the-land life, I admit: It’s easy, inexpensive, and yummy.

Though our finances improved this year, Whole Foods and its ilk now seem like extravagant treats. (Plus, my husband’s eau d’hunting scent tends to offend the other shoppers.)

Eat, grow, live. Is the DIY lifestyle is worth the time and effort?

Susan Gregory Thomas lives in Philadelphia, and is the author of “In Spite of Everything,” a memoir.

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