Thursday, February 11, 2010

Slow-food's hidden costs to women

Having spent last semester reading many blog posts from my classmates in Professor Pruitt's Law and Rurality class on the slow-food movement, I was enticed by a catchy headline in the Sacramento News & Review yesterday: "Fast v. Food." The article, written by local author Sierra Filucci, gave a first person account of "how the sustainable food movement drove one busy family to the brink and back again." She described her adventures as a married, working mother of two young children- 4 and 2, attempting to follow all the slow-food rules. She gardened in her backyard, exclusively shopped at farmer's markets, and made all her family's meals from scratch. Filucci also described how much she found herself hating it. Specifically, she grew dissatisfied with all of the time spent in the kitchen away from her husband and kids, toiling over the hot stove night after night.

As she acknowledges, the story of her experiences trying to live by the slow-food rules was eerily reminiscent of scenes from Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique. Filucci described her feelings of resentment towards her husband who got to come home from work and relax and play with their children. She also lamented that the joy of cooking was gone for her entirely. In one final moment of exasperation, feeling "like some rebellious housewife from the 1960s getting her first taste of feminism," she finally announced to her family: "I'm not going to cook anymore."

Filucci's strike only lasted one month, but she conditioned her return to the kitchen on a promise from her husband to help out more with family meals. For her part, she also accepted that moderation and frozen Trader Joe's meals would have to be part of their lives. In the end, she found these sorts of compromises made slow-food living much more enjoyable.

Through her story, the author exposes the hidden costs of the slow-food movement for other women in her position. Eating according to the rules requires an incredible investment of time and energy. Women are still doing more of the household work than their male counterparts in 2010, and for families trying to eat more sustainably, that means women are doing a lot more work. Filucci believes this is a reality of the slow-food movement that is not acknowledged or talked about enough. As she puts it, the slow-food movement needs to "realiz [e] that what they ask of communities and households - while worthy and noble- falls unequally at women's feet." Hopefully opening people's eyes to this special burden on women will lead to more compromises like those that worked in Filucci's house.

1 comment:

Angela Seits said...

Although it is true that there are so many women still responsible for the majority of grocery shopping and cooking in American households, the slow-food movement and farmers' market movement, at its best, is about everyone taking an interest in the food we put in our bodies. That means that men and woman and children should take part in growing food, selecting food and preparing food. It's also about slowing down and taking more time. This is why a cultural shift must happen in order for the movement to be successful -- it's as much about changing the culture as it is about what we put on our plates.