40 things the hippies were right about

By - Apr 1st, 2010 04:00 am
Make love, not war! That's just one thing the hippies got right. © 1997-2002Stockbyteª All rights reserved

Make love, not war! That’s just one thing the hippies got right. © 1997-2002Stockbyteª All rights reserved

“We Owe it all to the Hippies.”

Believe it or not, that is a real headline from TIME magazine, circa 1995. No, they were not talking about the legalization of medical marijuana or the ‘90s trend for boot-cut jeans, they were talking about nothing less than the Internet. The whole Internet. The Entire-net, if you will.


Stewart Brand was the author of the article belonging to that headline, and he asserted that the personal computer revolution and the Internet had grown out of the counterculture prevalent in San Francisco in the ’60s and ’70s – when computer technology was in its infancy, and long before anyone had heard of dot.com or silicon valley.

“Forget antiwar protests, Woodstock, even long hair. The real legacy of the sixties generation is the computer revolution,” wrote Brand.

When you work for a natural foods co-op, you’re no stranger to the “hippie” tag. Sometimes, it is not meant as a compliment. And that is why we love TIME’s headline. Let’s print it again, just to enjoy it some more:

“We Owe it all to the Hippies.”


Are we calling ourselves hippies? Outpost staffers support organic produce, local business, chemical-free household products and delicious, healthy food. We don’t think that makes us hippies; we think it makes us conscientious members of our community and stewards of our own wellness. The hippies of the ‘60s were known for taking part in “unusual” activities like meditation or yoga, and for congregating at outdoor music festivals. Today, these things are mainstream.

We’ve been thinking about this. How did the so-called hippies contribute to the culture we live in now? In what ways are we benefiting from struggles that well-meaning people took on 40 years ago?

How about this — in 1970s Milwaukee, a small group of residents gathered in a Riverwest house and started a natural foods co-op. They believed that people deserved access to fresh, organic, locally grown produce. It turns out they were onto something; Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative is 40 years old this month (though we have several, larger homes now).

So here, in honor of 40 years of a hippie-dreamt business that continues to serve its community and live up to its stated mission, is our list of 40 things the hippies were right about

1     Make love, not war.
It’s a cliché, but it’s as sensible as anything anyone ever said anywhere. The Vietnam of the past is the Iraq of the present. We’re still at war, and would prefer not to be.

2    Natural foods are a way of life, not a lifestyle.
Natural foods are not a fad diet. When people eat natural foods, and eat slow food and cook at home, those people enjoy better health. We know that people are committed to eating healthy, natural food because Outpost owners stick around, even during a recession.

3    Buying bulk saves money & the planet.
“Unpackaged,” a new store in London recently opened its doors, marketing itself on this premise: customers buy empty containers, fill them in the store and return to re-fill them when they are empty. This keeps prices down, and keeps bottles out of landfill. We agree, and it’s why we’ve been offering bulk grains, soup, tea and spices for decades.

4    Pesticides are harmful.
We instinctively know this. A pesticide kills bugs, so why would we want to eat it?

5    Cooperation is better than corporation.
It works for Outpost, of course, but consider others. Think about the recession. Think about the banks. Then think about the credit unions. The credit unions fared better because of their cooperative, less risky business model.

6    Knowing where your food comes from makes sense.
“Know your farmer, know your food,” is the mantra from the Obama administration. Whether it was a slogan on a sandwich board in 1973 or a clever piece of copywriting out of Washington in 2009, the fact remains that consumers are less likely to suffer from food-borne illnesses if they know where their food comes from. This isn’t just about touchy-feely community relations. Recall the October 2009 New York Times article exposing how ground beef products can be made up of different cuts of meat from different slaughterhouses — impossible to trace. The reporter told the story of dance instructor Stephanie Smith, whose E.coli-tainted hamburger meat put her in a coma for nine weeks. How can we keep food safe when we don’t know where it came from? We can’t.

7    Herbs are nature’s pharmacy.
If a natural remedy can cure what ails you, why use anything else?

8    Logo t-shirts are cool.
Just ask Alterra or Milwaukee’s Teecycle Tim, who runs a business selling vintage logo shirts.

9    So are Red Wing boots with vibram soles.
It’s how you wear ‘em.

10    Freedom.
People everywhere just want to be free.

11    Yoga.
People everywhere 
just want to be flexible, 
strong, calm and pretty.

12    Composting.
Even hip NYC urbanites are composting in their teeny kitchens these days. And the mayor of 
San Francisco made it a rule. If you don’t compost your food scraps, they smack your legs. Of course, San Francisco officials are now coming under attack for supplying residents with toxic composting material, so I guess they’re the ones getting their legs smacked. Lesson learned: It pays to research your compost.

13    Fair trade.
It’s only fair.

14    Collecting rainwater.
While this is outlawed in some western states, this makes common sense here. Protect that lake, people!

15    Growing our own food.
There’s an amazing amount of satisfaction to be gained from eating food you grew out of your own spot of earth.

16    Meditation.
This is going to keep on growing in popularity. We are information-saturated; imagine being able to empty your mind!

17    Earth Day.
Someone has to take care of this planet — it may as well be us.

18    The art of the home brew.
Mmmm, beer. We’d even argue that the rise of home brewing helped birth the microbrewery movement, too.

19    Outdoor concerts.
It’s summertime and the cicadas are chirping, the band walks on stage and … yeah, that’s just great.

20    Jeans.
Imagine life without jeans.

21    Joplin, the Stones and the Beatles.
Love them or not, there’s no denying the influence.

22    Tofu.
Oh, come on – it takes on the taste of whatever you cook it with – it’s the perfect protein!

23    Doc Bronner’s for everything!
All-one. Magical. Organic & fair trade.Peppermint. We’re tingling just writing this.

24    Ponchos.
My six-year-old daughter’s vote. She loves ponchos.

25    Acoustic guitars.
Ever hear anyone say they don’t like the sound of a guitar?

26    Flowers.
Well, of course. We like to think Flower Power today is best expressed by natural landscaping.

27    Free press.
Well, of course.

28    Religious, sexual and gender acceptance.
Well, of course.

29    Humane treatment of animals.
How many times can I write ‘well, of course’?

30    Saving the whales.
Apply this to dolphins too, please. “The Cove” didn’t win the Oscar for naught.

31    Peace.
Well, of course. In the world at large; in our personal lives. Peace be with you.

32    Organic cotton.
Ask Kate Agarwal, founder of Milwaukee’s Bella & Boo – the organic baby e-boutique. She founded the company because of her daughter’s skin reactions to the chemicals in regular baby clothes.

33    Reclaimed wood.
For floors of character and beauty.

34    Group transportation.
Maybe not a VW bus, but light rail would be great.

35    Small is beautiful.

McMansions, Hummers, big box stores be gone! Our planet doesn’t need them, and neither do we.

36    Local is good.
For every dollar spent in a local store, 68 cents stays in the community, versus 43 cents or less from a dollar spent in a national chain store.

37    Community works.
Our Milwaukee is a working example of this. Small, Milwaukee-based businesses coming together as a community have pooled their talents and resources to promote themselves, each other, the city and the shop local ethos.

38    Outpost will be a pioneer in bringing natural foods to Milwaukee.
The management told me to write that. But the hippies back in 1970 were right; we were – and still are!

39    Surfing.
If only the lake were warmer…

40    Whole grains.
All those pesky high-sugared cereal makers are clamoring over this one now. We knew it all along.

So there you have it, 40 things the so-called hippies were right about. And we’re glad they were because life is better for these things.

Oh, but we received two nominees for things the hippies were dead wrong about: wineskins and carob. Well, you can’t win them all.  Thanks to the Outpost staffers who offered up nominations.

Happy birthday, Outpost!

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3 thoughts on “40 things the hippies were right about”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I wholly love brewing beer at home! It has been such a challenging hobby. My family has been supportive, but most especially once its time to try my latest venture. I was startled to learn that it is actually the deep hoppy brews that I prefer. Just wanted to say cheers for the info you’ve left along the way, its been helpful.

  2. Anonymous says:

    […] of that quote: TIME magazine, circa 1995. I was reminded of that quote when reading an article that Third Coast Digest had a few years back, which still rings true today. I’m particularly fond of […]

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hey, I like carob! But it’s not chocolate, that’s for sure.

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