Blast from the Past: Scott and Helen Nearing

Simple Food and the Good Life
Published: September 9, 1981

[For many of us in the sixties and seventies, the Nearings represented models of how we wanted to live: simply, self-sufficiently, independent from the corporate world we had grown up in. Mendocino was (and is) well stocked with Nearing acolytes. Only much later did I learn that Helen was a “bond baby” who received monthly checks from Standard Oil. Oh well, oil wells… not so simple… Beautiful  lives, just the same. Speaking of which: National Treasures in person→  -DS]


”Live hard not soft; eat hard not soft; seek fiber in foods and in life.” For the five decades that Helen and Scott Nearing have been homesteading in Vermont and Maine, they have made a concerted effort to live by that philosophy, which is the guiding principle of Helen Nearing’s recent book, ”Simple Food for the Good Life” (Delacorte, $12.95).

Back in 1932, when the Nearings fled to an old farmhouse in the Green Mountains, they considered themselves pioneers. They wrote about the satisfactions and rewards of living off the land in a book called ”Living the Good Life,” first published in 1954. Before long, they became the symbolic leaders of generations of homesteaders in a movement back to the land that still seems to be gaining momentum.

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