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What in the World is Granola Culture?

Cover Photo by Jesse Gardner via Unsplash

If you long to spend your days discovering woodsy paths and plunging into hidden swimming holes, chances are you’re familiar with the phrase “crunchy granola.” (The same applies if you currently live in or have ever spent an extended period of time in the state of Vermont.) What exactly does this label mean?


The Basics

The granola lifestyle is grounded by a few key pillars, which I like to summarize as the 3 Es: exploration, engagement, and energy.

A crunchy kiddo is always keen on blazing their own trail, whether that means carving out a new route up the side of a mountain or treading a new social course. Granola culture is inextricably bound to the notion of being outdoorsy, which means that those in this category are eager to experience all that our planet has to offer. Likewise, granola folk tend to boast notable political engagement, oftentimes related to issues of sustainability and climate change. They’re also a rather energetic bunch, up for an adventure at the drop of a hat. 


The Staples

Members of granola nation love what makes them feel close to the Earth. They wear clothing that offers a high degree of mobility — you know, for the sake of spontaneity. Their pieces might be thrifted or upcycled in some way, or maybe even purchased from a sustainable company. In terms of footwear, Chacos and Tevas are absolute hallmarks. There’s also the widely beloved Birkenstock, yet this brand has experienced an unmistakable move to the mainstream over the past few years. Bandanas are another popular choice, although John B might have made this accessory decidedly less niche. Lastly, no crunchy fit is complete without a 32-ounce Nalgene water bottle, preferably with a few scuffs. 

In a similar vein, our crunchy friends go bananas for a good Saturday morning farmers’ market. Locally-made rosemary and thyme crackers? Cashew butter in a reusable glass jar? Scones baked with sustainably harvested cranberries and fair trade chocolate chips? Yes, please! Food products with whole ingredients or waste-minimizing packaging are well-respected in the crunchy granola community by those who have the means to afford them.


This sounds familiar…

While granola culture might seem like hippie culture in disguise, the two are indeed different entities. Hippies were focused on leading lives entirely separate from the trends they had come to know in the 1960s and 1970s. Granola culture, on the other hand, does not exhibit the same abhorrence for “normal society.” Both movements share an element of disdain, of course, yet the crunchy population is more focused on improving society than abandoning it. 

Are you ready to embrace granola culture? Let us know in the poll below. 

Cover Photo by Jesse Gardner via Unsplash

  • Is it time for you to go granola?

    • yes!
    • never
    • I’m already on a hike with my Nalgene right now


Written by Megan Pontin

Enthusiastic word-collector, avid pancake-consumer, and experienced hammock-lounger. Student at Cornell University.

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