GRAVEL¿SWITCH — The way the Nisley family lives is nothing new to them or to the other Amish in their community, but their “old” ways are becoming new again.
So much so as to be cutting-edge.
“I don’t know about that,”¿Owen Nisley said, and laughed at the thought.
Amish families are already familiar with new-age concepts like “organic whole-foods” and solar power, home-schooling and home-birthing, and living a simple life in tune with the environment and nature.
Talk about progressive! The Amish are ahead of the curve.
Nisley stands just inside the door of the Family Food Market and Deli he opened with his family in mid-May on U.S. 68 West about five miles from Perryville in the southwest corner of Boyle County. Though there are Amish communities scattered in neighboring counties, Nisley and his contingent are believed to be among the first to set up shop in Boyle County. Six other Amish families have joined them, and 20 to 30 more families are expected to follow suit in coming months.
Nisley is a slim man but not slight. He is humbly attired in clothing without ornamentation including buttons and zippers. He sports Lincolnesque facial hair and a dignified gait.
The store is plain, keeping with the tenents of their religion that eschews decoration.
The space is white and wide and open and scrupulously clean. Sun fills the room to reflect like prisms on row after row of canned goods filling polished shelves. With few exceptions throughout the store, familiar brand-named products have been left to the big-box stores in favor of small companies — many Amish — that avoid excess chemicals and preservatives, gratuitous salt and sugar.
The room is ringed by a fresh produce section and baked goods that are created on-site in the floury kitchen behind the amply supplied deli case stacked with meat and cheeses.
Sandwiches are a specialty here. Quality meats just waiting to marry with bread coming out of ovens, topped with a just-sliced tomato still warm from the sun, explains why this is so.
One thing abundantly clear right away is that this market is ... different.
Like Amish different.
So, what the heck is Amish, anyway?
Is it a cultural heritage or ethnicity? A religious affiliation like Presbyterian? Can anybody become Amish or do you have to be born into the tradition?
“Anyone can become Amish,” Nisley said and then gave a brief lesson on all things Amish.
The Amish people in America today are direct descendants of the “Anabaptists” (not “anti”) of 16th-century Europe.
According to Nisley, Anabaptists were Christians who parted company with Martin Luther and other protestants over the practice of baptism of infants, believing instead the practice should come after an adult becomes a believer.
Amish histories agree the early Anabaptists Christians also held a strong conviction concerning the separation of church and state (they were for it) and fled to Switzerland and other European areas in the 16th century to escape religious persecution (they were against it.)
During the late 1600s, the most devout members broke away from the Swiss Mennonites. This group, led by Jakob Ammann, would become known as the Amish.