For almost a decade I have written hundreds and hundreds of pages on the art of cider and the natural orchard that I believe cider-making is a part of. These pages end up as unpublished blog posts or stashed away on my computer to be used in a book I also will never publish. My efforts are futile and yet in my head I feel I'm tirelessly promoting for this way of life. And I do so at the exclusion of its opposite: farming and cider production that embraces scaled-up production, specialization of labor, mono-crop farming, artificial inputs… and so on and so on. (For shits and giggles you can revisit some of the previous blog posts that I actually did publish to catch a glimpse of what I wrestle with.) I script these drawn-out arguments like a Supreme Court justice submits their losing opinion in a 7-2 vote and yet the fight does not end when I put down the pen. It goes on and on in my head. It’s made me miserable.
I understand now why the baby boomers did what they did in the 1980’s. After decades of fighting for peace, equality, and freedom of behavior and expression they saw that those things could never be obtained in the real world as it had become. We were now a nation of upward mobility, progress, and the desire for ‘nice things’. These real desires with real rewards trumped our idealism and by the Reagan Era those ex-hippies were getting tired of losing the good fight. “Fuck it, make money," they said. And with that proclamation things like the ‘back-to-land movement’, free love, and many youthful ideals slipped away. Boomers joined the mainstream, and without a strong counter-movement to cause disturbances the door was left wide open in the mid-80's for unchecked market exuberance, popular shows of wealth, and conservative politicians who now stood to erase the advances of the civil-rights movement. In short, many Boomers sold out.
I could argue that the children of baby-boomers, now the largest, most influential generation, are inching the U.S. toward history repeating itself. I could argue that the young idealism characterized by Millennial opposition to Rumsfeld and Cheney, or the corporate greed that caused the 2007 housing and 2008 economic collapses, or the “employee mentality” (as opposed to independent workers) …all those oppositional stances were fueled by a kind of idealism that hardens as one gets older. If you are not a liberal when you are young then you have no heart, but if you are not conservative when you get older then you have no brain. The world changes, seasons change, and people adjust. That’s all.
It seems completely obvious to me that trends in the “foodie” world (including cider) are following this exact transformation. Little by little the independent entrepreneurs who entered food production will see that they need to adapt to a world of insatiable growth. Perhaps they themselves grow, they have kids with new mouths to feed and school bills to pay. Or as business owners they see the need, for instance, to open another restaurant or expand production to increase revenue. They now have to compete with people who start without the idealism. Little by little individuals and micro-businesses alike get older and they become exactly what they once stood in opposition to. They become bosses and their labor becomes specialized, just to site one example. It’s happening already, we, in the Millennial Era are selling out.
I'm not picking on any particular generation. That would be misguided. This essay is about the ebb and flow of eras and I'm just naming the dominant group as they are coming into their prime at that particular moment (an era involves all generations living then.) Is my portrait of contemporary foodie-ism, cider, and this Millennial Era over-generalized? Duh, of course it is. It’s way more complex than what I briefly characterize it to be and there are fantastic plot twists and exceptions worthy of our attention. But what I’m saying is generally true, it is happening. Will the Millennial generation say Fuck it, make money? Yes, I believe they will (and are.) Progress and consolidation are forces of nature now and I don’t know the use in fighting it.
So why do I? Why am I constantly sabotaging my own opportunities for growth? Why do I stonewall our development and force it to slow down? I wish I could resolve this with myself. Maybe I’m just jealous of other’s success? Maybe that jealousy is ballooning into a dogma that I now feel trapped into stancing? (I think I just made up that word.) All I know is that I continue to script these principles to validate a losing argument. And I do so all day long and most of the night. It’s an obsession. I’m fighting nature. I should be working on my selling out skills.
The losers of this world -to use that dichotomous 80's expression, and I'm thinking of myself here -might rest in their grave knowing they argued for something good albeit never achieving it. While the winners of this world can look down from their balconies and toast us probably convinced they stood for something just as moral (I know those people, that’s exactly what they think.) Everyone else, the ones who are not wrapped up in this fight, can spectator the struggles of the self-obsessed, the self-important and the greedy (and I don't know who's who) resting assured that they are the actual winners. Acceptance is next to Godliness.