Compelling article in the East Bay Express this week: Back to the Microwave by Sierra Filucci.
The author talks about how she was torn between doing what is right for her family and the planet…and doing what’s actually right for her family. She even argues that, though slow, local food movement is outstanding for young urbanites and energetic retirees, it may actually be pushing already overwhelmed women back into the kitchen for a full 1950s three-hour meal prep.
Great read. Glad her family did the one month of microwave and one month of Pollan eating to show how it really affects a family. Mostly grateful so I didn’t have to do the experiment. Interesting results.
During the convenience month, Filucci feels “pressed into an unworkable space. The space between a smashed keyboard and preservatives—between time and health.” Everything was easy, not always fast, and universally tasted the same.
During the grow it and cook it yourself month, she remembers “that the pleasure of cooking is soon overwhelmed by the reality of eating with two small children.” But once they hit their stride, the food “was polyphonic, with the volume cranked up high.”
Filucci notes the silence about gender within the slow food movement, ignoring that in the typical family, women handle 63% of the food prep and cleanup. The men and women are exhausted after a long day and sometimes, even though cooking is faster, takeout is more tempting. She wants the sustainable food movement to realize “that what they ask of communities and households—while worthy and noble—falls unequally at women’s feet.”
I believe we all need to talk more about the costs, too, not just to families and time and the environment, but to families’ wallets. Eating locally and fresh, in dismissing the terrifically unbalanced and outrageous food policy in the U.S. (all GMO, poison-ridden corn. potatoes, and soy all the time), is designed to be unbearably expensive for most families. It costs too much for us to buy everything at the farmer’s market and through local farm delivery programs. That’s because of where we live, where people pay a premium for local and fresh. Damn them.
Well, my experience is probably going to be irrelevant because:
1) I live in Maine, where locally raised food is accessible and relatively inexpensive, and
2) I do most (or, at least, much) of the food prep, while the Better Half often looks after the Critter. And the thought of convenience-based cooking makes my hair stand up.
I think there are some good points here. It IS cheap to eat crap. Sad, but true. We need to reconsider what we consider “food” in this nation, I think.
And what we’re doing to the small farmer in America is criminal.
But if I had to feed my family without any convenience items, I’d lose it. Middle ground has to be somewhere…
@Dan, I’m in Northern California where local produce is overabundant and outrageously expensive because of the chic of farmer’s markets. I’m sure the food is worth what we have to pay because people *should* have to pay for safely grown food. But we just don’t have the budget for all farmer’s market all the time. Going to pick our own is a great compromise because it’s cheap and easy, but not all products are pick-your-own-able and geez, if I wanted to pick produce all the time I’d get a job doing it. For, what do this country expects to pay, what… $2 an hour?
@Kitch, I’m with you. I don’t want all convenience items; I find the frozen stuff quite gross most of the time. But I like having someone bake my bread, make my yogurt and cheese, and raise chickens so I can have eggs without the work. I like making pasta, but don’t have time. I like making sauces and usually do. I love fresh fruits and veggies but sometimes just want a bag of baby carrots someone else kind of washed. I want to find a balance, but there are not enough hours in the day to do it all, not enough money in our account, and not enough will in my already rule-laden hyper-controlled life to make it work. Spouse gets home after dinner. I have three meals and two snacks to prep each day, no dishwasher, and on the weekends I work because Spouse is home. So. Some convenience items it is. Until I join Dan and his S.O. and Critter in a commune where he cooks everything.
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A definite great read.
Ok, first, I’ve been reading your stuff on my phone, which is why I haven’t commented often.
Second, this post has stuck with me for days.
You know you can actually cook in the microwave, like from scratch? My mom has some rather good recipes. I tend to use the microwave with frozen vegetables and left overs. I think you have to find a common ground because I don’t think any one wants to go back to cooking all day every day.
AND NO DISHWASHER! Either you’re a victim of daily torture or a better woman than I.
Fae, you know I’m not 1/10th the woman you are. So no dishwasher is not building character. It’s bringing bacteria and strife to my kitchen and marriage.
Of course, we weren’t good with a dishwasher, either. I loathe dishes. So does spouse. We can all guess what Peanut’s first job will be.
I hate the microwave. Creeps me out in that Luddite in a Brave New World kind of way. I genuinely love real cooking but there’s just no way to cook the way I used to. You know why. You have children at home. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do what they need, 1% of what I need, and cook a nice meal, too. I cook great breakfasts but by night I have nothing left.
But I’m trying harder now.
Okay, no I’m not. I was doing my best before and I just can’t invent any more projects for myself. It would be deadly.
I made all his baby food from scratch. I taught him to bake. Yet we still have a at least one night a week of fruit, cheese, and pretzels for dinner. Oh well. At least it’s all organic and made by companies I trust. I guess.
Fruit, cheese, and pretzels for dinner? You’re my hero. I’m so trying that!
Have you ever tried a crock pot? That’s pretty easy.
Yeah, we do crock pot, but we’re vegetarians, and you can’t cook raw beans or rice in crock pots. So I cook pumpkin and apples and veggies and stuff but can’t make meals in there. Except KitchWitch’s ratatouille.
Someone on another blog was shamed about cereal for dinner, but that never occurred to me. Totally going to try that. ;-)