Michael Pollan is drawing a little fire these days from … feminists.
Photo (c) Sarah Owens via flickr
In a recent article in New York Times Review of Books, Pollan reviewed several books that highlight the various circles of thought under the “big, lumpy tent” that is the sustainable food movement. It’s a good read, and I’ve got a few more books on my reading list now.
One of the books he reviews (at the top of my to-read list) is The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics, and Civil Society by Janet A. Flammang. Of this book, Pollan writes:
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.”
Feminist blogger Anna Clark responded via Salon.com in an article worth reading in full:
My take, as a feminist and local foodie? Blaming feminism for luring women out of the kitchen, stealing the ritual of the family meal, and thereby diminishing “one of the nurseries of democracy” is both simplistic and ridiculous. It’s true that shared meals are powerful spaces for building relationships and “the habits of civility.” But if we’re going to talk about who’s to blame for our current culture of processed food, why not blame untold generations of men for not getting into the kitchen, especially given Pollan’s characterization of the family meal as having a meaningful role in cultivating democracy? If it’s so important, why is their absence excusable?”
My response is, Anna, I get what you’re saying, but your article stops short of doing anything more than stamping your feet about it. I think plenty of men fall under Pollan’s critique – but honestly, who, until you, saw this as a blame game? Lower your hackles, girl! How passe of you to jump right into a tit-for-tat and insist if any woman be blamed a man must also be blamed. Honey, have you read Pollan’s books? Many, many men are blamed for the mess our food system is in. How is it so wrong to say that feminism played a role in the loss of healthier food traditions from days gone by?
Moreover, I say, Anna, accept the credit that Pollan is handing women – it’s in our hands to bring goodness back to our tables. Hopefully, and very likely, our men will help too. But whether they do or not, we know we have the smarts and the skills to feed ourselves and those we love well.
Read Full Post »