Cooking up a Theory: Feminist Practice in the Kitchen

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In a global trend, feminists and activists for women’s issues are supporting local movements for sustainable foods. Feminists are participants in the movements. They farm, garden vegetables, procure locally sourced foods, and cook with these foods. Many of these women prefer to avoid industrialized foods as much as possible. Ecofeminists have clearly addressed the need to care for the environment and support women farmers. There remains, however, a dilemma for feminists interested in sustainable foods. If one is to eat locally sourced or unprocessed foods, she or he must spend time and energy in the kitchen cooking from scratch. This kitchen time is problematic for theoretical and practical reasons. Most feminists work for pay and have various afterwork commitments which leave them little time or creative energy for cooking from scratch.
Mainstream theorizing about kitchen work does not provide a framework in which cooking might be an essential aspect of the feminist agenda. Because the 21st century faces a food crisis that is harmful to human health as well as the environment, it is time to acknowledge and work through the tensions between women’s cooking and a popularized, Friedan-based, anti-domestic feminist theory of the 20th century. After surveying feminist activists in the local foods movement, we concluded that feminists like to cook for pleasure and sustainability. Consequently, we are initiating a feminist theory of cooking.


Keywords: Women, Workforce, Gendered Home Cooking Patterns, Sustainable Food Communities, Local Food Movement, Community Health, Feminist Theory
Stream: Social Studies of Food
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Cooking up a Theory, Cooking up a Theory,


Holly Ann Stovall

Assistant Professor, Department of Women's Studies, Western Illinois University
Macomb, Il, USA

Holly Stovall teaches feminist theory, global women, women and creativity, and introductory women's studies classes at Western Illinois University. Her areas of research are feminism and cooking with local foods and novels by women from Spain in the late 20th century.

Lori Baker-Sperry

Professor of Women's Studies, Department of Women's Studies, Western Illinois University
Macomb, IL, USA

Dr. Baker-Sperry is a sociologist who teaches feminist theory, women and crime, women and pop culture, girls studies, and introductory women's studies classes. Her areas of research include feminism and food, gender in fairy tales, and learning assessments.

Judith Dallinger

Professor, Department of Communication, Western Illiinois University
Macomb, Il, USA

Dr. Dallinger has received such awards as the Professional Development Award (1998), the Faculty Excellence Award (1995, 1994, 1992, 1990, 1989), and the Daniel Rohrer Research Award. She has been published in numerous professional journals and textbooks and has presented professional papers at conferences throughout the world. She is a consultant evaluator for The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, is the executive secretary for the Organization for the Study of Communication Language and Gender, and is an editorial review board member for the Journal of Communication and for Communication Studies.

Ref: O12P0176