A rather provocative headline, isn’t it? Yet, there is a little ripple going around foodie circles right now that believes just that. Let me state these are progressive, liberal people making this claim. And they actually have a bit of a point.
Before you get your dander up and start attacking me, hear me out. I have credentials here, as I was a Women’s Studies major in college. (Yes, there really is such a major, and yes my father is still shaking his head over it
Anyway, Michael Pollan, the foodie and author, was reviewing a new book, “The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics and Civil Society” by Janet A. Flammang in the New York Times Book Review. His review included the following:
In a challenge to second-wave feminists who urged women to get out of the kitchen, Flammang suggests that by denigrating “foodwork” — everything involved in putting meals on the family table — we have unthinkingly wrecked one of the nurseries of democracy: the family meal.
In other words, women took off their aprons and started throwing down poorly prepared frozen dinners and take out containers in their quest for the corner office. Several studies have claimed foods that are processed with poor nutrition lead to obesity. Therefore, working women are one of the causes of obesity.
This article on Salon calls out Pollan for his review of Flammang because he didn’t challenge her particular point and merely let it stand. In feminist ire, this is tantamount to sedition.
Well, before we get our panties in a wad, perhaps we should look at the idea Flammang is presenting. Basically, the more that women work out of the home, the less likely we are to cook healthy meals for our family. Stop. Breathe. Think about it for a second. This seems a little plausible, doesn’t it?
I’m not saying it’s right and that we should accept it, I’m just saying it’s plausible. I try to cook meals at home as much as I can. It’s really important to me that my family eat well and ingest as few chemicals as possible. The only way I can control that is to shop for and cook my own food. But when life gets busy, I’m reaching for the take out menu just like everyone else.
Should the men be stepping in here? Yup, sure. But we’re trying to overcome generations of tradition. My guy sure does way more housework than my Dad did. We’re going in the right direction. We just haven’t gotten all the way there yet.
So for people upset at the book, and poking at Michael Pollan, I would like to offer an alternative. Why don’t we talk to the guys in our life about maybe cooking a bit more? It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. We could start with something easy like pasta and work our way up. Or maybe, if our guys truly hate to cook, we can swap out some household chores so that we have more time to cook ourselves.
The fact is, this isn’t really a feminist issue as much as it’s a family issue. Nuclear families need to sit down and come up with a plan that works well. Whatever their personal solution is, it’s the right decision for them. No one else needs to judge them.
We all know that one of the contributing factors to obesity is eating out a lot and eating a lot of processed foods. So this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. We are starting to wake up to this reality and there are more and more tools out there to help families find the right path for them. Michelle Obama is working her Let’s Move plan. Organic foods are increasing sales in the double digits ever year. I hardly ever have to explain what a CSA is anymore.
It takes a while for society to change. Let’s give ourselves a break and just work a little bit harder to get there.
What do you think?