Ever since 2020, I have become increasingly aware of how fragile our food supply system is. My wife and I made the decision to start growing our own food and raising chickens, something that we had seen our neighbor do on a ¼ acre lot and we figured, if they can do it, we can do it!
That’s why I’m excited to be chatting with Jill Winger, author of Old-Fashioned on Purpose: Cultivating a Slower, More Joyful Life. Over the past 10 years, Jill has helped thousands of families learn how to grow their own food, ditch the grocery store, and live the Old-Fashioned on Purpose lifestyle.
Similar to how the Miracle Morning shakes up our daily routine, Jill’s approach shakes up our entire relationship with food and self-sufficiency. You’ll learn how to embrace a producer’s mindset, the magic of growing our own food, and the importance of reconnecting with our environment.
- Become a maker, not just a taker
- Modern problems require much more than band-aid solutions
- Sitting at a desk isn’t our natural habitat
- Adversity isn’t always negative. It’s often worth leaning into
- The impact of grocery store food on our minds and bodies
- Why you don’t need to live on a farm to eat healthy
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- Jill Winger on LinkedIn | TikTok | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube
- Old-Fashioned on Purpose: Cultivating a Slower, More Joyful Life by Jill Winger
- Old Fashioned on Purpose Podcast
- The Prairie Homestead Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Heritage Cooking in Any Kitchen by Jill Winger
- Joanna Gaines
- Roomba Vacuum
- Eben Pagan
- Potatoes Not Prozac: Solutions for Sugar Sensitivity by Kathleen DesMaisons, PhD
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Hal Elrod: Hey, goal achievers, welcome to the Achieve Your Goals podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod, and I am excited for you to hear the conversation that I just had with Jill Winger. She is the author of the brand-new book, Old-Fashioned on Purpose: Cultivating a Slower, More Joyful Life. And I don’t know about you, but I could use a slower, more joyful life. I think that we all can.
And Jill talks about her journey from city dweller to homesteader. And what I love about this book, by the way, I’m fortunate I got a copy a few months ago from the publisher, so I got to dig in early. And you can now order the book anywhere that books are sold, on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, wherever you like to get your books. But Jill brings this really practical approach to getting back to what matters, getting back to what matters in terms of our connection to the Earth and our food and family and life itself and spirituality. It’s a really beautiful book and I encourage everyone to check it out.
Now, if you’re not familiar with Jill, she is the founder of The Prairie Homestead, one of the foremost homesteading websites since 2010, so over a decade. She’s dedicated to helping others learn how to grow their own food and live a more fulfilling, old-fashioned life no matter where they live. And we’re going to talk today about if you’re living in an apartment, how to grow your own food and get started literally tomorrow. I mean, she has some amazing practical tips.
And in the book, she goes in-depth on every topic you could ever imagine. And she makes it accessible for everybody. Her practical and authentic style of teaching and storytelling has won the hearts of millions of homesteaders across social media and through the top-ranked Old Fashioned on Purpose podcast and the bestselling Prairie Homestead Cookbook.
But to be clear, this is not just for homesteaders. In fact, when I asked her, “Why did you write this book?” It was because she believes and I believe as well that this is for everyone, that our modern society has pulled us too far away from our roots. You think about it, modern society has only been this way for a handful of decades or so, but us growing our own food and connecting with Earth and with community and really getting back to a slower lifestyle, that’s been thousands upon thousands of years. And so, if you’ve been feeling any, like something inside you like society, it just doesn’t feel right. I feel like consumerism is too rampant and on and on and on, I feel like the media is too much and we’re overstimulated and we need to, as Jill says, cultivate a slower, more joyful life, today’s episode and this book are for you.
Before we dive in, I want to take just a couple of minutes to thank our sponsors, first and foremost, or should we start Organifi or CURED Nutrition? All right, let’s start here. CURED Nutrition Rise is the product that I want to talk about today, I take this every morning, I have for the last, I don’t know, six months or so, maybe longer, helps with focus and clarity. It’s got Lion’s Mane, it’s got CBD oil, it’s got Bacopa extract, all organic and more superfoods to help you with focus and clarity. And if you’re interested in that, or I take their Night Caps in the evening, I mean they’ve got a variety of great products, head over to CuredNutrition.com/Hal. Again, that is CuredNutrition.com/Hal, and then use the discount code HAL, H-A-L, at checkout for 20% off your order as an awesome, faithful listener of this podcast.
And last but not least, combine the two of these. Our other sponsor is Organifi, and one of their products that I’ve taken for a long time called Pure, which combines a far higher dose of Lion’s Mane and NeuroFactor organic coffee fruit extract. And I was just reading up on this. I don’t want to spend too much time reading it to you, but what NeuroFactor is and what it does is it helps with mental focus and is similar to the other product that we just talked about. But ultimately, coffee fruit is a patented extract of whole Coffeeberries from Coffea arabica. Am I pronouncing that right? The common coffee bean.
Check it out. Go read it for yourself. It’s called Focus. It’s got for folks with mental clarity. So, these are like a one-two punch, right? I take both of these now in the morning, and Focus is in capsule form. So, it’s like they’re product Pure, which was in powder form that you opened out of a package. But this is in capsule form, so it’s much easier to take. When I take Rise from CURED Nutrition, I also take Focus from Organifi. Head over to Organifi.com/Hal, that’s O-R-G-A-N-I-F-I, Organifi with two I’s dot-com/Hal, and use the discount code H-A-L for 20% off your order as a listener of the podcast.
Without further ado, I think you’re going to love this woman and love her spirit and love her advice, Jill Winger, Old-Fashioned on Purpose: Cultivating a Slower, More Joyful Life. I’m in. I’m here for it. Let’s go.
Hal Elrod: Jill, thank you so much for being here today.
Jill Winger: I am so excited for this conversation. I’m just thrilled to be here, Hal.
Hal Elrod: I want to say more than just thank you for being here. Thank you for writing this book, Old-Fashioned on Purpose. I am so enjoying this right now. It’s very different from any other book that I would normally read. Normally, I’m reading book on parenting, marriage, or business. And what I love about this is that, you could say it’s about homesteading, right? But it’s really a book, I mean, the subtitle Cultivating a Slower, More Joyful Life, I think that says it all.
And I just want to dive right in. You open the book. I actually wrote this down word for word, the opening line or the opening few sentences, there’s something rippling through humanity right now. It’s not a trend, but a craving, a longing, a remembering, a sense that we are capable, more capable than we’ve been led to believe. And then you went on to say that this same thing or something very similar appeared during the Great Depression, and it appeared again in the 1970s around the Vietnam War time with what was called the back-to-the-land movement. So, what is this longing? What is this craving? What is rippling through humanity right now that you’re talking about in this book?
Jill Winger: Yeah. So, I’ve noticed as you look through history and you especially look at our current era, COVID really kind of kicked it off, but I think it was there before. Whenever our society or culture starts to feel tumultuous or unstable, humans do one thing. Well, they do lots of things, but there’s one primary driver and they end up feeling this urge, sometimes inexplicably to get back to their roots, to connect to the Earth, and to kind of slow things down.
And I’ve been teaching homesteading and I’ve been in this world for a long time, but I have been absolutely fascinated to see everything shift after the pandemic hit us. And so, that’s what kind of prompted me to dig into this and start to see these patterns throughout history that keep repeating themselves as history does. And so, it’s just fascinating that, even with technology and progress, when we start to feel shaky, we go back to the basics.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, yeah. And I was telling you, actually, I didn’t tell you this part, but in 2020, my wife and I were like, I want to get out of the city, I want to be self-sufficient. Like I started to notice, not to be a doomsday here, but I’m like, our society is very fragile, like our systems. You start to see supply chain issues. And I’m like, I think that the best thing to do for our family is for us to be sovereign, to be self-sufficient, to be able to actually take care of ourselves the way that they did 50 years ago, 100 years ago, however long ago that it was.
And so, we moved out of the city. We bought land out here in about 30 minutes outside of Austin. And we now have 25 chickens and two sheep and four turkeys and 18 garden beds. And we are pursuing this lifestyle that you talked about, and that’s why I so resonated. I mentioned to you that my wife is like, she has found her groove. And I always joke, I’m the financier of the projects. Like I still work and she’s…
Jill Winger: We all need those. We need those things.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s right. But your book has been so helpful because it helps with the why. Why would I want to consider going back to my roots, going back to the way things used to be? Why not just Instacart my groceries? And so, I actually want to go there, and then I want to talk about your journey from city girl to homesteader. But first, what’s the why? Why would somebody want to read this book? Why would they want to take action on it? Why would they want to listen to the rest of our conversation? What’s this why for people?
Jill Winger: Yeah. Oh, so much good stuff there. And first off, I just love that you acted on those urges that your family was feeling, like you did the thing. So many people are sitting here on the precipice, like, should I do it? I don’t know. It feels scary. Is it weird? And you guys are just like, “We’re doing it.” So, I love that. So inspiring.
Hal Elrod: It took us about a year of my wife getting frustrated, going, “When are we doing it?”
Jill Winger: Just do it, do it.
Hal Elrod: And then we finally figured it out, but yeah, yeah. Yeah, so if you’ve been twiddling your thumbs and dragging your feet, that’s okay. Now is a good time as any to listen to this podcast, read this book, and then finally make that decision, make that leap of faith, if you will. So, go ahead.
Jill Winger: Yeah. So, I think the overarching why, and I didn’t honestly figure this out until a little bit later on in my own homesteading journey because like most people, I came into it for the how or just those really tangible pieces. I want sourdough bread, I want homegrown tomatoes, I want chickens with eggs in my backyard. It seems fun and romantic. And so, I came into it for that.
And what I started to realize, as I continue down this path is these skills, they’re not just cute little homesteading skills, they’re not just a reaction to COVID, they’re a part of what keeps us human. They’re a part of really what humans have been doing since the beginning of time. And it’s only in very, very recent history that we’ve pulled so far away from them. And it’s fascinating to me that in our current culture, like you said, we think that these systems and institutions are so stable. And it was COVID that kind of shook a lot of us. We’re like, these are not stable, these are not rock solid. These are actually very recent. They’re constructs. They’re very shaky.
And when we get back to these basics, and it’s not always about necessarily buying land or having a milk cow or living in Wyoming like I do on the wide-open prairie. But we just start to have this awareness of these grounding principles that keep us human, that keep our mental health in check, that keep our physical bodies where they need to be. It brings just a whole layer of richness to life that I think is really hard to accomplish when we’re living within the standard American rat race.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, yeah. And I mean, you talk in the book a lot about like, I think people feel it, something is wrong. The way our society, it saddens me. It hurts me the way our society is. I think about the music that is pushed onto kids, that the lyrics would not have been even considered, like there would have been no chance 10 years ago. But now, it’s like they’re thought. I don’t want to repeat lyrics, but just in our media, our culture, I feel like we’ve moved away from the values and the ideals that really did matter more than anything else.
You mentioned something a second ago or few minutes ago about you don’t have to have land, you don’t have to live on the prairie in Wyoming like you do. And I actually do want to really mention that for people, and I’ll probably mention in the intro, just so people don’t think, “Oh, this is only if I could afford to buy land.” Because what I love about your book is how tactical and actionable you get in the book, from how to grow potatoes in a plastic tub in your apartment to how to grow sprouts indoors in your apartment or in your house, right? And then you go as far and/or how to raise chickens and that could be in your backyard with a very small plot of land.
But there’s so much more, like you covered from mulch to composting, you covered every topic, and you did so from the beginning to the end from a place of like, hey, here’s how to make this work for everybody, whether you’ve got an acre, you live in an apartment, you’ve got tenants, whatever, this works for you. So, talk to me about your journey to writing this book, but I mean, really, from city girl to homesteader.
Jill Winger: Yeah. So, I was not raised on a farm or a ranch. A lot of people assume I was, that I come from this rich family lineage, and I don’t. I come from a very standard, kind of 1990’s kid in the suburbs sort of upbringing. I think one thing that set me apart then was I did have this weird desire for rural living. I really liked horses, so I was one of those weird horse girls. Did you ever know the horse girls when you were…
Hal Elrod: My wife is becoming a horse girl. Yeah, she’s becoming a weird horse girl right now. First, she was the crazy chicken lady. And now, she’s the weird horse girl.
Jill Winger: I love weird horse girls. But I was one of those, from three years old, I had a singular obsession with horses, and then I wanted to live on a farm, and I was like five and going to my parents and begging them to buy property in the country. And they’re like, “No, that’s not a thing, honey. We’re not doing that.” So, I don’t know where that came from. It was definitely before homesteading was the thing, it was before it was trendy. I definitely was ostracized by my peers because of it, but I could not shake it. I just was obsessed.
And so, as I got older, people were like, “What are you going to do with your life? You’re ready to graduate high school. What are you going to do?” And I didn’t want any of the normal paths. It all sounded horrible. And so, the one thing that seemed tolerable was I found a little equine program in Wyoming, moved to Wyoming, did these equine studies at a community college, met my husband, and I also then realized he wanted a little bit more of an unconventional path.
And so, even though I didn’t come from a homestead background, the thread throughout my life was I just liked to do things a little bit different, that this was where I’m most comfortable. And so, we realized our first home is after we got married, we didn’t want it to be the typical little suburban house with a white picket fence and a minivan. We wanted it to be a little unconventional, and so, we found an old fixer upper farmhouse back in 2008. And this was before Joanna Gaines. This was before it was cool to buy a fixer upper. Homesteading was a word I had never even heard before. So, it was definitely like, not as accepted.
But when we bought that property, I can’t even fully describe it. I just knew, there was something in my gut that just lit up and I’m like, “This is it. This feels so good.” And I was excited to have the property for my horses, but I was even more excited because I was hit with this question, like how could I become a producer instead of just a consumer? And I’d never thought of that before. I was very happy to just consume prior to that, but it was just like walking onto this land and like, “I can make it productive, I can make it grow, I can make it beautiful, I can make it feed us.” And it just totally captured my imagination. And that was the beginning of what became our homestead. And we’ve been still on that same property, still trucking along to that same dream.
Hal Elrod: Oh, I didn’t realize you’re still in that same property.
Jill Winger: We are. And it’s changed a lot because it was rough when we bought it.
Hal Elrod: It was like a 900-square-foot shack that used to be lived in by a miniature horse, right?
Jill Winger: There was a horse living inside. And the neighbors would just love that story so much. They would pull at the driveway…
Hal Elrod: The previous owner had different tastes than we did.
Jill Winger: They did, yes. My favorite yard decor after we bought it was the washing machine with dirty clothes in the front yard. I loved that. That was wonderful. So, yeah, it’s changed a lot, but it’s still the same property. And so, it’s been quite a journey.
Hal Elrod: Imagine you built a nice dream home, like you built a nice home on there at some point. Okay.
Jill Winger: Yeah, yeah. We added on. Our addition ended up being bigger than the actual house because the house was so tiny.
Hal Elrod: Of course.
Jill Winger: And people pull into the driveway now and it looks like the homestead dream home, right? And they’re like, “Oh, you guys, you’re so lucky. And I wish I could.” I’m like, “No, no, no. You don’t know what we started with. It was the process to get to this point.”
Hal Elrod: Yeah. You’re like, let me take you out to the horse guesthouse and…
Jill Winger: Exactly. The washing machine you see.
Hal Elrod: So, I want to get into some tactical stuff for people listening on, kind of like things they should be thinking about, like, “Oh, no matter where I live, I could start growing sprouts indoors. I could, these things.” Before we do that, I actually wanted to start with the big question that you ask any author, which is like, why did you write this book? Why write this book? Why now? And what do you want it to do for people?
Jill Winger: So, as we progressed on our homesteading path, I saw how it was changing me in every way, for the better, changing my health. It was changing how I was eating, my beliefs of what was possible, how I was parenting, how I was schooling my kids, how we ended up making income was changed by the homestead. I mean, the best thing that’s ever happened to me, hands down. So, I was sitting with that and feeling all warm and fuzzy. And then I was also sitting with this idea that I know not everyone can do that because like we talked about earlier, not everyone can move to the country, nor do they want to. Not everyone wants to move to where I live or somewhere similar.
And so, I was holding these two ideas and sitting with that tension of I believe these skills are so crucial to our health and wellbeing as humans. They’re not just a hobby, they’re not just a silly little thing that some of us do. They’re crucial, just the essence of those skills. But not everybody can have it. Not everyone can move.
So, I’m like, “How can I distill down the essence of what homesteading is and bring it to a broader audience?” And so, after sitting with that for a while, that’s what became Old-Fashioned on Purpose. And my goal is I want it to get into the hands of people who are not already completely indoctrinated into homesteading. I mean, homesteaders will love it. I know my audience is going to eat it up, but I want it to get into the homes of people who haven’t watched YouTube videos about chickens or they aren’t following the pretty Instagram homestead influencers, the ones who are feeling a little bit unmoored, a little bit shaky after the pandemic, and what our modern culture feels like. And they’re just looking for a way to reconnect with themselves and with their communities and with the Earth. And so, that’s what I hope the book does, is just to help people become more aware.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, and I think it does, or I mean, it does, at least for me. It’s beautifully written and it’s such like, I would use the word rich, it’s such rich material in the book in terms of just getting you to think differently, and really, you think about how disconnected we are from the Earth, for example, and how crazy that is. And you mentioned that our current lifestyle is relatively new.
Jill Winger: Yes.
Hal Elrod: But the lifestyle that you’re talking about, I mean, and you’re really talking about a hybrid lifestyle, like bringing the old into the new, like you’re talking about I’m still a normal mom. I’ve got a Roomba vacuum, like robot vacuuming my floors. But if we stop and really think about how life was for thousands upon thousands of years and how human beings, that’s normal. That’s normal. What we think is normal, not normal, new, progressive, different, right?
And look at the mental health crisis. Look, our society is conditioning us to always want what’s new, always want more, always want the next thing, and to devalue old-fashioned on purpose, old-fashioned on purpose, things that have stood the test of time. And I think that’s why there is this calling of people and maybe COVID was this great awakening, where it’s like, “Oh, wait, what am I?” It’s almost like we were in a dream, right? Life just felt like it was just kind of so normal for so long that you’re like, “Oh, you know, you know.” Yeah, careful what I say here.
But just realizing that, “Oh, wait, maybe things aren’t as they seemed.” It’s almost like the movie, The Matrix. Everything was plugged into the Matrix, and now, we were yanked out, like, oh, wait, things are not different or things are different than they seemed. And getting back to what really matters is so important. What was I going to ask you?
Jill Winger: I just want to kind of say something really quick because you brought up a really good point. I think that what you just said there is the pivotal point of awareness that people can start to wrap their mind around that our current culture is new. And just to ask that question, who were we before industrialization came along and told us how to live and how to act? If you can just start to chew on that, it doesn’t mean your life would look like mine or you have to go hog wild and you buy milk cows and go off great. I’m not saying that, but if you start to ask that question, things change a lot. And I think it gets exciting because it opens up possibilities.
And I’ve heard people say, here we are in our modern culture and everyone’s feeling bored and there’s mental health crisis and there’s a physical health crisis and lifestyle diseases are on the rise. And we’re always looking for like, why is this happening to us? And we need to have a quick fix. And it’s like, maybe you’re not as broken as you think. You’re just not designed to live in a culture where you’re just sitting on a desk all day and you hate your life and you’re miserable and you never are engaged in nature and you’re eating this weird food, like you’re just not designed for that. So, maybe you’re not as broken as you think. You just need to get back to where you’re supposed to be.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And that is what I find that when I’m out there working in the garden, when working in the yard, I don’t really have any stress because I’m just being, I’m just living. And my wife’s a great example of what you just talked about, which is we used to live in this nice suburban neighborhood before we moved here. But her days were spent like, she’d cook and clean, take care of the kids. She stays home with the kids.
But then, during the day, when the kids are at school, she would be like, “What do I do? I guess I need to go to Costco. I’ll go to Costco.” But that wasn’t fulfilling. She just bought stuff at Costco, probably half of what we didn’t really need. And then she’s like, “Why?” She’d probably go to the gym. So, then she’d go to the gym. But she’s just described how unhappy and not even totally aware of how unhappy she was in our former lifestyle.
And now, she says she has so much purpose. She says, as a mom, she’s like the food that I’m growing. There’s this motherly connection to the food. There’s this motherly connection to the animals and taking care of them. And so, yeah, she’s arguably never been more fulfilled in her life than she is living this lifestyle that you talk about in this book. And I still Instacart more often than I probably…
Jill Winger: It’s all right.
Hal Elrod: But yeah, actually, I want to share something with you. This may have been the statement that got me to finally make the decision to move. And it was a friend of mine who was very wise and we were just talking about, I think it was at the time that there were issues with the food supply chain and the grocery stores couldn’t get food and there was just different certain things, like you couldn’t find semiconductors, right? You couldn’t get microchips because they were imported overseas. And that’s where like, we started to see, like, whoa, whoa, whoa, yeah, these systems are very fragile.
And these things that we once completely took for granted, you never thought, car manufacturers never thought they’d be without microchips. That went on for six months where there were no new cars being made, right? So, the point being, we were talking about it and he said, he goes, “I think there could come a point in our society where the only people that are able to eat healthy food are the people that grow it for themselves.” And that hit me, I was like, “Whoa,” because I value, you know I’m a cancer survivor, like, my family is my number one priority and eating healthy food is a close second, if not tied for first.
And I was like, “Wow, that’s a really good point.” And it’s not some dystopian conspiracy theory. It’s like, we’ve already seen that this can happen. Anyway, so I’m just curious as to your like, any response to that or any thoughts that come up with that idea of like there may become a point in the future where the only people that can eat healthy food are those that grow it for themselves?
Jill Winger: I totally am in line with that. And I actually was just thinking of that recently, just in some different experiences I’ve had lately and people I’ve been around, especially children, just watching how other kids. My children are brainwashed into the homestead lifestyle so they understand healthy food. And we’re butchering chickens this afternoon and they’re going to help and they’re going to be there and they’re helping us can tomatoes yesterday. So, my kids are oddballs in a wonderful way.
Hal Elrod: And how old are they now?
Jill Winger: I have 13, 10, and 7.
Hal Elrod: Okay.
Jill Winger: So, yeah, they’re well indoctrinated. Not that we don’t eat junk food sometimes, but for the most part they get it. But I’m around, watching how other children are eating. And this isn’t a message of judgment to any family. I have to preface that, but we also have to speak to problems and what’s happening. And I’m looking at what’s considered normal and what is so easily available and what’s cheap. And it scares me because exactly what your friend was saying, it takes so much effort to find food that is not full of garbage and poison. And corn, soy, wheat, corn, soy, wheat, it’s an everything, I call it human kibble. All we eat is corn, soy, and wheat with the seed oils and the chemicals. And then we have that whole topic of pesticides and roundup, like it’s so hard to get that food. You have to go to extra efforts.
And so, when I start to see the progression, like I do think that’s very true. You can do it now in a grocery store. You have to be really picky and selective and stay on the outside. And even some of the whole foods in the grocery store are still sprayed with chemicals, are still grown in not great ways. So, you have to kind of go the lesser of two evils and have that conversation with yourself.
But that’s honestly what prompted my homesteading, part of the conversion for me 15 years ago. Wyoming is not a place, or it hasn’t been traditionally a place with a lot of local food culture or farmer’s markets. And I realized if I wanted anything that wasn’t Doritos and the typical food, then I needed to grow it myself. It was just hard to find organic. It was hard to find clean food.
So, I even recognized it then. And I’m seeing it become so much more so now. And I wish or I hope there’s ways we can work around that because not everyone can have 60 acres to grow. So, I feel like there’s got to be some ways we can have co-ops or collaborations to get that out. But I think education’s the first step so people understand what they’re eating and they’re understanding what it’s doing to their bodies.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Yes, well said. Yeah, and I mean, you go to the grocery store. You mentioned saying on the outer aisles, right? But even that, half of the beef has got hormones and all sorts of stuff that you don’t want in it and most of the vegetables are sprayed with pesticides. So, I mean, you’re literally looking at– I mean, think about that, I think it was Eben Pagan years ago that was talking. He said something along the lines of just that it’s less than 2% or maybe less than 5% of what’s sold in a grocery store, you should actually put in your body. Think about how crazy that is, y’all, that as much as, if not more than 95% of what they sell in a grocery store actually has toxins and poisons and things that– and you wonder why cancer is an epidemic and obesity is an epidemic. It’s like because we’re literally being poisoned every day.
Getting practical. So, when my wife and I started buying various foods like rice and beans and just stuff that– when we saw the food shortages during the pandemic, we were like, “Oh, let’s order something like–” because we don’t know how long they were going to last, right? So, we ordered organic rice and beans. I was like, “I want something healthy.” So, we got big, five-pound buckets of rice, five-pound buckets of beans, or five-gallon buckets, I should say.
But one thing that hit me because I used to be a completely raw vegan food person. I was all raw, all food that was alive. Now, I eat a variety. I eat grass-fed meat and pasture-raised chicken and all of it. But still, a primary part of my diet during the day is I want food that is living, that is not cooked, that is organic live food. And when we were buying this emergency food, I said to my wife one day, I go, “Well, what am I going to do for living food?” Because at that time, this was before we had the– we weren’t growing anything. And she goes, “Well, what about sprouts?” I go, “Oh, my gosh, you’re a genius.”
And so, I want to just share one minute on my view of sprouts, and then I want to hear you because you talk about this in the book. But for anybody not listening, one of the most popular sprouts is you buy organic mung beans and you can get them on Amazon.com, just organic mung beans, M-U-N-G. And then you put them in water. And within a few days, they start sprouting these little tails. They look like tadpoles, right?
And the way that I have this, or I learned about raw or sprouting years ago, and what stuck with me is that when you buy even organic vegetables at the grocery store, they are dying. They’ve been dying since the moment that they were cut off the vine, right? But when you sprout something in water, it’s literally life. It is brand-new life that is emerging. And you think about the energy rather than dying in the foods that have been bought at the store, they’re now, it’s literally life energy in those sprouts. And then when you consume them, you’re consuming that energy.
So, anyway, for me, sprouting is so easy. You don’t need any soil, you don’t need anything other than water, a jar, and the mung beans or the lentils, whatever you’re sprouting. So, I’d love to start there on stuff that people can immediately start implementing into their life to implement what you talk about in the book and immediately improve their health and start growing things for themselves.
Jill Winger: Yes, I love sprouts so much, like you said. And the other parts, sprouts at the store are pricey and they go bad really fast. So, when you’re growing them yourself, to me, it’s like a convenient thing, which is funny because people see my life and they think it’s the opposite of convenience. But I’m like, I just don’t want to have to drive to the store and buy stuff that I throw away in two days.
So, there’s a lot of pieces here, but I think it’s such a great example that if you’re willing to think outside the box, you have so many possibilities available to you, even if you’re living in an apartment in New York City. You can do more than you think. So, sprouts are an awesome option. Windowsill herbs, there’s even ways to grow windowsill lettuce, salad greens. So, you’re seeding the sprouts in little pans of soil and you’re letting them get a little bigger and trimming them off. There are all sorts of different vertical planters you can get these days that can go next to a sunny window. Or if you have that, I’m talking like the scenario of someone living in an apartment with nothing because that’s the extreme, right?
Hal Elrod: Yeah, sure.
Jill Winger: So, you can get vertical planters and put them near a window or on a balcony and grow all sorts of things – strawberries, lettuce, green beans. You’re not going to get gobs, but you’re going to get something. And then beyond even just growing, if we’re talking about living foods, there’s a lot you can do in your kitchen. I get totally nerdy over bacteria because I just think it’s super cool, like fermentee.
Hal Elrod: Who doesn’t? Who doesn’t?
Jill Winger: I’m just like this. So, I appreciate your kinship there. Yeah, soil bacteria, bread, bacteria, I think it’s awesome. So, fermenting vegetables, that’s taking food and bringing life into it. It’s a living food. Sourdough bread has that same dynamic. You’re capturing wild organisms from the flower, from the air. You’re bringing that into your kitchen and you’re partnering with it. Kombucha, the kefirs, there’s all sorts of fermented dairies where you’re creating living foods in very natural processes.
And the cool thing about those foods, if you can get handy with those, they don’t take a ton of effort. There’s a little bit of a learning curve. That stuff, you can’t buy at the store, like the sauerkraut you buy at the store has been pasteurized and it’s now dead. And a lot of the yogurts you buy at the store are so full of garbage. They hardly are even yogurt anymore. And sourdough bread, most sourdough bread, not all, but most of it that’s sold in a traditional supermarket is not actual sourdough. It has flavoring in it to make it sour.
So, once you master the microbes, you get food that you can’t buy. And to me, that’s highly valuable. And it’s also living foods. So, stuff like that, I just get so weirdly excited over because it feels good when you do it. Not only does it taste good, you’re getting all the dopamine from making the thing and figuring it out and it’s such a magical process.
And it sounds like similar to what you were talking about with your wife. When we shift into that role of producer, it feels good. It does something for us as humans. And that’s the part that I want more people to understand. When they look at what I do and they’re like, “Oh, Jill, it’s so much work and why don’t you just do it the easy way?” I’m like, “Well, because this feels better. It lights me up and that’s worth something.”
Hal Elrod: And I think that, to your point, even you start somewhere, you do, like for example, if you grow some sprouts, just Google how to grow– actually, buy Jill’s book. But the point is…
Jill Winger: You can Google it, too. It’s fine.
Hal Elrod: You can Google it, too, but you put mung beans, a handful of mung beans into a jar with some water, and then you just put it by the windowsill and you just change the water every day. And all of a sudden, you literally go, “Wow, I grew this. I created this.” And so, I think the point is, once you dip your toe in the water and then you get that reward of, wow, it feels good to be a producer, to produce something, to grow something, to create something. I am a creator, right? I was put on this Earth to create, not to consume.
So, there’s this fundamental, spiritual, innate human drive and desire within us. And like you said, maybe you’re not as broken as you think, right? I love there’s a book called Potatoes over Prozac. And I think it was about the actual chemical impact of the potato. But it’s also the idea of, hey, if you grow potatoes, you might realize that, wow, this is what I meant to do. And now, my wife, like I said, she is so lit up every day, and she works her butt off, but she loves every moment of it. She wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Jill Winger: Yeah. I just want to say, if no one has tried growing or harvesting potatoes, it is one of the most satisfying things. When you’re digging in there, I don’t know what it is, I know it sounds so weird to even describe what you’re digging in the soil with your hands and you’re uncovering the potatoes, it’s addictive.
Hal Elrod: Wow.
Jill Winger: I get such a dopamine hit off harvesting potatoes. But yeah, it’s those things that I’m always like, I try to be chill, right? Because I get really excited over this and super nerdy, but I try to be chill. So, I’m like, it’s fun, you just try the sprouts, just try the sprouts because I know once they do that, it’s going to create that chain reaction, and then the rest is history.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Let’s close with, well, anything that you want to share. But I think that what’s so important, it’s like anything in life is a mindset, right? Everything begins with your mindset about it. And it’s sustained based on your mindset and whether or not you enjoy the fruits of your labor is based on your mindset, right? So, it’s like to me, that’s the through-line.
And you said in the book that, Old-Fashioned on Purpose, which is the title of the book, Old-Fashioned on Purpose is a mindset. And so, kind of bringing everything together we’ve talked about today, like what do you want to leave people with in terms of adopting that mindset in their lives?
Jill Winger: So, two things that come to mind. The first is embrace that hard doesn’t always equal bad because we have been sold this idea in our culture. Thank you, industrialization and the factory mindset and all of that, that if something’s hard, it’s beneath you, it’s not worth doing. You should run from it, where in reality, the opposite is true. It’s kind of a natural law that’s challenges. We’re designed for challenges. Our bodies are designed for challenges.
We don’t grow our muscles unless they’re challenged and stretched and it’s uncomfortable. And there’s so much of life that follows that law, that natural law. And so, I think, first, is just because something is hard or uncomfortable, it means you should shy away. In fact, sometimes, it means you should lean in. And that’s really important in this old-fashioned lifestyle.
And then the other piece, I think, that’s so crucial is that you have to be highly committed to action, messy action, imperfect action, action before you know all the steps, but you have to take action. And I think so many people in so many areas of life, not just homesteading, everywhere, it’s there’s this paralysis of I need to know everything that’s going to happen first, I need to have the perfect plan, I need to figure it out, I need to have more education, I need to read more books, I need to watch more videos. I’m like, “No,” and you’ll never feel ready. You’re never going to feel ready. You just have to do it and figure it out as you go.
And everything I’ve learned in my life, I have a habit of getting myself into situations that are over my head and I have to learn as I go. But I think that’s the only way to learn, honestly. I’ve never actually done anything worth doing that I had learned in a book or in a class ahead of time and had it all figured out. That’s never actually happened. So, take messy action.
Hal Elrod: Take messy action. And you mentioned that like, you just said something about not having all of, you knowing everything you need to know, I do feel like this book is a manual from start to finish. Like I said, you cover virtually every topic related to this and so much about the mindset and the why. Like as you read this book, you’re like, I want what Jill has. It’s like, I want that slower lifestyle. I want to be lit up by digging potatoes out of the ground. And so, the book is Old-Fashioned on Purpose: Cultivating a Slower, More Joyful Life by Jill Winger, creator of the Prairie Homestead. Where’s the best place to buy it?
Jill Winger: I would say I always recommend, go to your local bookstore if you have one. And then if you don’t have one, the typical retailers – Barnes & Noble, Target, Amazon. Bookshop.org is a good one. Bookshop.org is supporting indie bookstores. You can even order from them online, so yeah, just the normal places.
Hal Elrod: Very cool. Why I’m excited, like I said, I think this book is so needed right now more than ever. It speaks to me. I’m going to get it on Audible for my wife. She’s an audiobook kind of gal, but I think she’s going to love it. And then she might be reaching out to you for some pro-tips.
Jill Winger: Yeah. Send her my way. We’ll chat.
Hal Elrod: Awesome. I will, Jill. Thank you so much. And everybody listening, thank you for listening to this episode. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. And go grab Jill Winger’s new book, Old-Fashioned on Purpose: Cultivating a Slower, More Joyful Life wherever books are sold, starting with your local bookstore, if you can support them. So, love you guys and gals, and we’ll talk to you next week.