Is Amish Life Hard? One Amishman’s Answer

“Don’t feel sorry for us, no,” John says with a chuckle. “We’re having a good life.”

In this video I interview John Esh. John lives in Nittany Valley in central Pennsylvania and runs the Goot Essa cheese & food company.

John sat down for a longer conversation with me a week or so ago. I’ll be posting that full video soon. But in the meantime, here is a short 3-4 minute excerpt, where I start by asking John “Is it hard being Amish?”

John goes on to explain how technology has proven a challenge, and why he wants his children to be equipped to understand both the value and the dangers of tech – even if they end up accepting more of it.

I’d say this is something that is likely, if only for the fact that each generation of Amish accepts at least a bit more tech than the previous one did. They’re intentionally lagging behind mainstream society, while measuring the impact of adopting new innovations – but not outright rejecting all of them.

Image: Don Burke

As to the disruptive power of the internet, John compares it to an earlier piece of technology that his parents’ generation had to deal with. I won’t give away what the comparison is here, you’ll just have to check the vid (a little over halfway through).

He also describes what it was like when his family moved from Lancaster County into a new area in central Pennsylvania many years ago, and the response local non-Amish had – at first.

Image: Don Burke

“Particularly when we moved into these valleys in the early 1970s, a lot of the natives where like, ‘What is coming here? These people are very backward…'”, John says of the non-Amish reaction.

“And then as we learned to know each other, and they became involved with us, we became involved in the general community, they saw you know, in a lot of ways they are no different than we are.”

I hope you enjoy the video and check out Goot Essa’s cheese gift baskets for the holidays here.

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    1. Want to Advertise with You

      I’m with a small organic dairy company, Kalona SuperNatural, that receives our milk from about 50 Amish farms. We were founded by a group of farmers and an “English” neighbor who now owns the company. Please contact me ASAP as we are working on budget for next year right now, and I’d like to support you since I’m a huge fan of your website. We also have a nonprofit that supports Amish farmers in their transition to “regenerative grazing” methods a la Allan Savory, Holistic Management, etc… Thank you!

      1. Central Virginian

        My Favorite Yogurt!

        Kalona is my first choice yogurt and other dairy products, but can’t always find it here in Central VA.

    2. Central Virginian

      Hard Life

      Amish culture does a good job avoiding so many elements that are burdens that make life hard. A family and community centered life, without so much competition and selfishness and all the extra effort and stress spent on time-wasting meaningless activities. The work, family, and church/community activities of Amish culture are more physically and psychologically healthy than what much of the English world spends its time on.

    3. Sharing your articles with the Amish.

      I work with 50 family Amish Community out of Baldwin WI. They build my Little Free Libraries for national distribution. (
      When go to print out an article to share with my Amish builders it includes all the adds and side promotion making the articles many pages of paper long. It’s print so long that we no longer make printouts.

      Would you consider a print version like they do for downloading recipes from a cooking page. If you generated an Amish version newsletter I would buy that and have a subscription sent to their homes (allowed / not allowed ?)

      Thank you for your work.