Cooking up a Theory: Feminist Practice in the Kitchen
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
Holly Ann Stovall
Assistant Professor, Department of Women's Studies, Western Illinois University
Professor of Women's Studies, Department of Women's Studies, Western Illinois University
Professor, Department of Communication, Western Illiinois University