Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The foodie indictment of feminism - Broadsheet - Salon.com

The foodie indictment of feminism - Broadsheet - Salon.com

So Michael Pollan is probably some sort of food-loving saint. He's also, it seems, a kind of feminist-hater-- though I haven't personally seen enough evidence to say whether this is true, I can agree that he's, at the least, saying things in a thoughtless way that's calibrated to annoy certain kinds of people, and by stating them that way, makes it sound like he's willfully ignoring the role any men have in how our food culture is today.

I agree that, to some extent, the result of women going into the workforce is the proliferation of ready-made meals and such; it was useful and it was convenient. I also agree that the men involved should have taken up the slack and learned to cook a damn meal for themselves. But on the other hand, I think it's unfair to blame feminism because it wasn't just a choice: a lot of the time, it was a necessity, and suddenly being able to work made supporting a family on your own easier-- and now there's just not the option of being a housewife for many of us. Households at my tax bracket just can't survive on one income, and to still blame feminism for the necessity of working and therefore not making meals seems outdated and ridiculous. And the men in the equation still should have stepped up.

Tangled webs, these gender interactions. And the whole food culture issue is already tangled enough. Maybe we should just agree that stuff happened and as a result everything's all messed up and unbalanced, and now EVERYONE needs to step up and get involved and learn to cook and learn to garden and find local and sustainable sources of things. Men, women, children, governments, everyone. We're all to blame and we're all responsible for fixing it. The feminist / anti-feminist argument has a way of dislocating the arguments it gets drafted for, has a way of polarizing things that would otherwise not be polarized because as soon as someone plays that card, suddenly agreeing with part of the other side makes you a traitor, going along with even a fragment of the other side's option for fixing the problem means you aren't committed, and then nothing happens.

And in the food world, things need to happen. The whole industry needs to be overhauled, and if we're all standing around yelling at each other about whose fault it is, there's no way for us to address the fact that regardless of fault, it's killing our kids and burdening our society and weakening our country. The issue isn't who is to blame, it's how can we fix it, now, with our current resources.

Food Rules: An Eater's Manual
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition, and Health, Revised and Expanded Edition (California Studies in Food and Culture)
Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know

ETA: This reaction is entirely ignoring the fact that the decline of family togetherness as a whole contributes to the food-chain problems, that people these days seem to lack patience and manners (and since I work retail, I can say that) and therefore willingly choose the easy things, that fast food existed before the Fem Rev, that the government spends / spent a lot of time encouraging farmers to bail out / sell out / stop farming and therefore ruined the balance themselves, that most of the cutting-edge chefs in the world are men and that this sort of cooking is somehow different then women's cooking in or out of the home, the fact that whatever role feminism played in leaving the kitchen, it's really the marketing that got people to give up local, sustainable, healthier food in favor of shiny big-box stores that offer stuff all year round and make it easier to get ahold of pre-packaged stuff that they've been told is 'just as good as home made' when it isn't, that food isn't the only thing that's been impacted by the social changes of that time whether or not they can be directly associated with feminism or it's opposite, the fact that feminism didn't destroy the family so much as a bad set up of how a marriage and a family was supposed to be left millions of women willing to take any chance they got to get out of it as soon as divorce was allowed, and that that led to many households where there was only one breadwinner and so on, and on and on and on.

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