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Rod Dreher, who once graced me with the label crunchy-con, ups the arms race to authenticity:

Since Crunchy Cons was published in 2006, I've taken on a lot of criticism from fellow conservatives about the supposedly unrealistic ideals the book champions--especially when I call on conservatives to make consumer and lifestyle choices that are more in line with what we profess to believe.

Some of these challenges have been valid. But I've found that many, perhaps most, of the criticism says more about the challenger's unwillingness to try something difficult and discomfiting than about the inherent value of the ideas. How easy it is for mere expedience to masquerade as principled realism.

And, truth to tell, that's where my chicken agita came from. See, I'm the sort of person who loves to read Wendell Berry and Michael Pollan, and to talk about Slow Food, and the integrity of our farms, yada yada. I really do believe that not everyone is called to light out for the organic prairies, and that city people have an important role to play in the sustenance and growth of small family farms, if only by choosing to purchase their meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables from these producers.

But raise chickens myself? Even just three? Well now, squire, let's not be hasty. Why risk failure, and making fools of ourselves? I thought back to how in my childhood, we country people used to laugh at the city lawyers and politicians who used to come up to the hills during deer hunting season and prance around like seasoned woodsmen. Wouldn't I, long removed from my rural roots and thoroughly urbanized, risk being that kind of poseur?

Crunchy cons--and everyone else--wouldn't be so afraid of this if the rest of us didn't get mad at people who have difficult ideals, and then put them into practice.  As long as no one else is doing it, we can let our own behavior go, swept along unthinkingly in the comforting certainty of the herd.  But once one of the sheep starts moving in a different direction, we have to start wondering if we're going the right way.

Luckily for me, I'm pretty sure my apartment is too small to do much in the way of farming.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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