Wednesday Walk: Riding with the Amish
Welcome to the Quarantine Creatives newsletter, a companion to my podcast of the same name, which explores creativity, art, and big ideas as we continue to live through this pandemic.
Every Wednesday, I share random thoughts and tidbits with links to let you do some exploring, which I hope generate interesting ideas.
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As I mentioned in Sunday’s newsletter, we’ve been on the road in our RV for more than a week now.
Driving around on both interstates and smaller country roads, I’ve been noticing beautiful wildflowers in bloom at the margins. These have reminded me of an account that Instagram recommended to me a few weeks ago, @nativehabitatproject.
It is run by Kyle Lybarger who hails from Alabama and is a big advocate for native plant life. The first video that I saw of Kyle’s was a short one shot near his former high school where he contrasted the manicured lawns of the athletic fields with the native grasses growing along the roadside in areas harder to mow. Take a look- it will change how you see grass!
I’m always amazed by what this country looked like before it was criss-crossed by roads and dotted with buildings. Kyle’s account helps give us a taste of that world, but also gives me hope that we can get back to something that is beautiful and better for all members of this planet- humans, other mammals, birds, insects, and so much more that depend on these fragile ecosystems.
We spent three days of this trip in Lancaster, PA and the surrounding Lancaster County, which is home to a big Amish population. If you’ve been reading my newsletter for a while, you know that I have a fascination with the Amish, so I found the entire trip very enjoyable.
I was thinking about the line between tourism and authenticity when we decided to go for an Amish buggy ride. There are several companies that offer these services in Lancaster, and we happened to choose one that has good reviews, but also advertises heavily and operates out of a large parking lot on a main road. In other words, it’s a bit of a tourist trap.
Our guide was raised Amish but opted not to be Baptized (which happens to the Amish in their late teens) and thus is no longer a member of the church. His parents are progressive and did not ex-communicate him, which is sometimes the punishment for not sticking with the Amish lifestyle.
Having the background in that faith but no longer a believer gave him the freedom to share with us the goods and bads of Amish life. He left more than a decade ago, giving him the benefit of perspective, which we appreciated.
It was also eye-opening to not just see a buggy on the street but to feel the difference in pace of horse hoof. It lets you observe the world at a different scale and take in more. It’s also a bit terrifying every time a car passes.
At the end of the day, we felt like we had an authentic conversation with somebody with a unique perspective on the Amish, while also getting a sense of their mode of conveyance. Did the gimmick of the business take away from the authenticity? I don’t think so in this case, and I don’t know that we could’ve gained that perspective in any other way.
I may do a longer piece on Amish country at some point, but until then, I also wanted to share my wife’s post from her Instagram about Amish dairy products that we discovered.
We were excited to learn that much of the Amish diet overlaps with The Plant Paradox diet that we’ve been following for almost a year now (you can read more about the diet here). In particular, many Amish famers breed varieties of cow that produce A2 casein milk.
Most American dairy cattle produce A1 casein, which can cause sensitivities like lactose-intolerance. A2 milk has started appearing on grocery store shelves recently and it’s easier to digest. It’s also what cows native to places like Italy, France, and Switzerland produce.
My wife did her homework and found an amazing Amish farm (Meadow View Jerseys) that sells raw milk, kefir, and loads of cheeses, all made with A2 milk. They also sold pastured eggs, pastured chicken, grass-fed beef, and organically raised vegetables.
We loaded up on some amazing Amish dairy products, and were really impressed how much of our diet overlaps with practices happening in the Amish community as well!
If you’re interested in following along with my wife’s Plant Paradox inspired cooking, give her Instagram a follow, she’s @seemabites!
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Other Wednesday Walks
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