It’s a hat, of course. Y’all suggested hats and flowers and fancy hats or possibly mint – which I also considered as I have a crap ton of it in last year’s herb bed. When I thought about hats and decorated hats, I’m afraid I didn’t go to the Derby but to a hat I made some many years ago that my mom still had up on the wall. I was really into making wreaths and hats for a while there. I still like this one though I reckon that the flowers aren’t particularly great flowers and it’s really pretty simple. Still.
An article on Salon.com is apparently triggering debate around the web. I haven’t seen the original article by Michael Pollan in the New York Times and I don’t want to over-generalize from the quotes in the Salon.com article – but there are some things that make me want to talk about my own experience.
in the New York Times Magazine, dismissing “The Feminine Mystique” as “the book that taught millions of American women to regard housework, cooking included, as drudgery, indeed as a form of oppression.” In the same magazine story, Pollan scolds that “American women now allow corporations to cook for them” and rues the fact that women have lost the “moral obligation to cook” they felt during his 1960s childhood.
As Emily Matcher points out, selling convenience foods to women as a means of getting out of the “drudgery” of cooking started in the overly romanticized 1940s and 50s, long before the Feminine Mystique. Remember World War II when a lot of women went to work and discovered that staying at home being responsible for home and cooking was not the only option. And some women decided that they didn’t want to return to being unpaid domestics. Not all, and though we did indeed go through a period where there were negative judgments heaped on women who chose to be stay at home moms, I hope that we’re past that and support the idea that women can do what they want — and that either way, men have some responsibility for hearth and home.
The most interesting part to me is our over-idealization of the days before women went to work outside the home. We should return to the farm, where our food was all from scratch, healthy, locally sourced, and, um, artisan. Before I get into what that means from personal experience, I’ll also quietly applaud the many things that have made our food safer so that very few of us in this country die from food borne diseases.
And while there are genuine problems with today’s industrialized food system, the idea that food was purer and more wholesome in the past is also pure fiction.
“The media has done a good job of convincing people that their food isn’t safe, when almost certainly the opposite is true,” says Rachel Laudan, a food historian. Laudan points out that eating has always been an inherently dangerous enterprise, but one that has gotten progressively safer over the years with the rise of better sanitation and government standards.
Prepasteurization, children frequently died from cholera, listeria, or bovine tuberculosis after drinking tainted milk. Butter was often rancid or adulterated with anything from gypsum to gelatin fat to mashed potatoes. Until the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, penny candy might be colored with lead or arsenic, pickles with copper compounds. Malnutrition was endemic well into the twentieth century, especially in the parts of rural America we like to imagine as pastoral paradises.
Of course, as is repeatedly pointed out, industrialization has clearly caused some negative effects on our diet. I just don’t want to blame that on women working.
But all of this is build up – and an attempt to step out of some of the controversies – to talking about what farm cooking really was like in the early 20th century. My mom grew up on a farm, her mom was a farm woman. Grandma was uneducated, she wanted more for my mom. And Grandma was responsible for not only feeding her family, but feeding the farm workers. It was a job, unpaid and expected because she was a farm wife. It’s what she did.
It was a valuable job. Grandma fed, as I said, not only her family but the other people who worked on the farm. And the farm wife enabled the production of food that fed many other people. But what about that romantic vision of healthy farm food?
Mom turned her back on her mother’s cooking, which she always said was difficult for her to eat, and taught herself to cook from cookbooks when she moved out on her own. Why would she turn her back on all that healthy straight from the farm food?
Grandma cooked large cuts of beef in vats of lard. She deep friend chicken in vats of lard. Vegetables and potatoes and eggs were all made with huge amounts of lard. That’s what farm cooking was. Meals were made up of mostly meat – because they had cows and raising cows for their own family food was relatively cheap. She cooked it in lard which they also had in abundance and those farm fresh vegetables like potatoes and beans were also cooked in or served with a lot of fat. Apples and berries were right there on the farm and were made into pies. Pies, made with lard, of course, were a part of most meals. Breakfasts were hearty with farm fresh eggs, cooked in bacon fat or lard.
My grandma was obese. My mom fought her weight all her life. She was overweight as a child and learned to cook far more healthy once she got out on her own. She cooked mostly from scratch during my childhood and turned away from all that farm fresh fat – during the period of the Feminine Mystique. She worked prior to marrying my dad and always talked about going back to work, but never felt she could because taking care of her home and family came first. That was a full time job and my dad never did a damn thing to help with that job. He was, however, responsible for outside and for taking care of repairs and things like that. That was pretty typical for a family in the 60s. Mom did use some convenience foods – frozen vegetables for example. But remember we also had lots of homemade jello salads and baked goods mostly made with trans-fats such as vegetable shortening and margarine. That was normal, too.
Perhaps that’s the time some want to return to, rather than the early part of the century on the farm. My other grandma, by the way, was a city cook. Her cooking was, based on my experiences, even worse than my farm grandma. Long, long boiled canned vegetables. Stacks of sliced white bread fresh out of the plastic bag. Meat cooked until it was dead. Dad remembers her as being a good cook but also reminisces about the food that she bought from the local delis. Baked treats didn’t come from home, they came from the deli or the bakery up the street. Again, this is pre-war America, that idealized period where our food was locally sourced and made from scratch by loving home cooks.
The point is, that while I’m in favor of many of the ideals of our newer food movements – cooking more locally, farmers markets, using less pre-packaged foods, etc., the romantic view of what food was like before feminism is just silly. The idea that it’s a woman’s responsibility to be the one that makes that happen for us is just stupid. We are at a different place in our development. Some women want to stay home, some women want to – or have to – work. Men are, and should be, more involved in caring for home and family. Many men even enjoy cooking and are just as concerned about improving the family’s diet. Why would we want to go backwards? The way we cook foods, the desire to include fresh fruits and vegetables are far healthier than what my family experienced in the pre-WWII world. It’s evolution forward, not a return to anything that was real in our past.
I haven’t seen the whole New York Times Magazine article and don’t want to judge Michael Pollan on the excerpts included in the Salon.com article – but I admit those excerpts are triggers to thoughts about how he should know better. And that’s unfair.
I’m trying to find the article online – it was unfortunately not linked in the Salon.com article – but I found this one from April 18, 2013.
“If we’re going to rebuild a culture of cooking,” Pollan says, “it can’t mean returning women to the kitchen. We all need to go back to the kitchen.” He continues:
“First, we need to bring back home ec, but a gender-neutral home ec. We need public health ad campaigns promoting home cooking as the single best thing you can do for your family’s health and well-being.”
So, if he also made some poorly thought out comments about the Feminine Mystique, he clearly isn’t the villain he’s been painted as. And I wrote this post, not to attack Michael Pollan, but to look at that romantic pre-feminism ideal that many seem to be advocating.
Is Pollan guilty of that idealized view? Not always.
Often I would have toaster waffles for breakfast growing up. Or Pop-Tarts. All that crap. My mother was, and is, a very good cook, but she was not a monastic eater and we had our share of junky products. I would come home from school and polish off a box of Yodels. Remember Yodels? Foiled-wrapped cylinders of chocolate cake and cream. They were excellent. I don’t know if they’re around anymore.
And remember, he’s nearly a decade older than me.
I want to read the Salon.com referenced article for myself. I suspect it’s one of those things that don’t get posted online for a week or something and I’m curious to see whether the excerpted comments really reflect Pollan’s statements. Whether or not they do, the ideas in the Salon.com article are worth talking about.
Let me repeat my point, so that it’s clear. In my opinion, the current food movement for more fresh, locally sourced, when possible, food (homemade or not) is evolution forward, not a return to the past. It isn’t the sole responsibility of the woman and shouldn’t be.
Finally, after all these years, I found a vacuum that picks up cat hair for a quick clean up. It hasn’t been a big issue with Zoe until recently when she and Kitty started running around jumping on each other and leaving hair everywhere. It was a huge issue with Stasia who dropped giant clumps of hair everywhere. I tried every sweeper and sticky-tape contraption made and they never did what I needed them to do – which doesn’t seem that complicated. I needed them to pick up the damn cat hair quickly and easily without having to haul out the big vacuum every day.
But now, there is the Shark cordless sweeper and I’m in love. It’s the small things that make life easier that make me happy. There’s so much to do, one small thing that simplifies life is well worth celebration. It picks up crumbs and does a quick clean up on the kitchen nicely, too. Just in case you wondered.
And I’m going to buy another one for upstairs.
Okay, I actually bought this one for upstairs. I bought it to sweep the upstairs bathroom of kitty litter but it does a crap job at that. I’ll take the Swiffer Sweeper upstairs for that. It does a good job on vinyl floors and the Shark does a decent enough job for in-between clean ups downstairs where I have a flat carpet under the litter box. But it’d be handy to have another Shark upstairs.
Dear FTC, my friend Ally Beans says that I should mention that no one has paid me for my opinion or otherwise compensated me in any way. I wish they would. Shark company – if you want to send me some free products I’d be happy to blog about them. I like my Navigator Lift Away Pro, too. So, I guess I don’t need that one. I’d like to try one of the steam mops and the portable steam pocket. Is it bad, FTC, to say these things? I promise that if the Shark company reads this and decides to send me free products, I’ll tell you all about it.
…and I can’t think of anything clever or interesting or pretty for the May banner. Ideas welcomed.
Me? Well, I ran through a variety of recent posts and most tagged me as writing like Cory Doctorow
Who? I’ve never read anything by Cory Doctorow and the analyzer doesn’t tell why it makes that association. I have to assume that Cory Doctorow has a rambling, casual, kind of babbling style.
But it doesn’t end there. I’ve always said that my writing is either the rambling style (apparently like Cory Doctorow) or sounds like a psych report.
I’m not really excited or disappointed in any of the results. While I am familiar with Tolstoy and Mitchell, I haven’t honestly read their books either. What I am is curious. If the analyzer has any validity, what is it about my writing that is similar to these famous writers?
It was a really, really quiet and lazy weekend. I am trying a new (for me) drug for the fibromyalgia and waking up was hard to do. I considered myself “awake” on Saturday about 6:30 in the evening. Yesterday was better – around 2:30 in the afternoon. Today, it’s 1:15 pm and I still don’t feel safe to drive, but I didn’t fall asleep again for a couple hours this morning so that’s an improvement. Neurontin is the older sibling of Lyrica, which I tried last spring. Most of what I’ve read says that Neurontin has more side effects than Lyrica but you never really know how you will react to a drug. I’m not even taking the therapeutic dose yet, however. I just love the getting used to a new drug time. Anyway, I got squat done this weekend other than making risotto twice. I desperately need someone to come vacuum (lol) as the cats have decided to wrassle and there is cat hair everywhere. I’m going to drug them and shave them.
So what else has been happening? I ordered some cat treats for hairballs a few weeks ago from Wag.com because I got a good coupon from Amazon. I wasn’t entirely happy with my first order – a lot of things are overpriced and they shipped my order in like 5 different packages which always annoys me. Plus they shipped a package FedEx which always has issues delivering to my house. I have a sign on the front door asking deliveries be left at the downstairs door and the FedEx package didn’t end up at either door. Customer service impressed me, sending out replacement items the same day I complained. And the package arrived the same day that it dawned on me that there was one door I had never checked. Yup. FedEx left the package at the sliding door inside the carport. The one door no one ever uses. I emailed them to charge me for the replacement items since I’d found the original package – and they emailed me back that they appreciated my honesty and I could keep the items for free. That kind of company gains my loyalty as I have said before. I went ahead and ordered Science Diet canned food for hairball control last week and got it two days later. Kitty is having hairball issues and won’t take laxatone or any similar hairball treatments and though they eat weight control/hairball dry food and he will take hairball treats, he’s still blurking up all over the place without bringing up the hairball very often. I could probably get the food from the vet or PetSmart up in Springfield, but the price difference is worth the convenience, I think.
Which brings us to the point of this story. I do go on and on, don’t I? I recently started getting my vitamins and calcium supplement from Amazon. They are the exact same price or a little cheaper than Walmart but they come automatically and I can avoid Walmart! I may save money on individual items at Walmart but I always end up spending more on things I don’t need. I’d rather support my local independent grocery and only go to Walmart when I need something I can’t get here. There are a couple other new websites in the Wag.com family such as Soap.com which I have been exploring to see if they cover some of the other things I need like shampoo and laundry soap. I need to check the prices against Walmart. With free shipping at $35 of purchases, it may be worth the convenience factor. I may be becoming one of those people who don’t go to actual stores – except for groceries. You can’t buy fresh produce online here at least.
But the best part was while I was exploring I found Low Poo Shampoo. What? Shampoo with only a little poo in it? There’s also No Poo shampoo which, I don’t know about you, I definitely prefer. Apparently they are low chemical and low or no sulfate shampoos that are supposed to be better for your hair but omg, what a name. Too expensive for me but I really want to buy No Poo shampoo. Wouldn’t you?
Tomorrow, or later today actually, I’m going to make tiny little meatballs with basil and parmesan and risotto with pesto. I’ve been looking forward to this for a week and gradually gathering the ingredients. I couldn’t find fresh basil yet, or at least not a price I’d pay for the amount I need. But they had chopped basil in a tube – basil toothpaste! I don’t even remember what triggered the idea but I can eat rice again and I made a lovely little risotto with pancetta and fresh asparagus a couple weeks ago. But tiny meatballs! With basil!
If it comes out well, pictures and recipes will show up on Chickens and Eggs.
I should re-do my 101 things to include the little known fact that I was (am) a math geek. Yes, yes, I took symbolic logic for fun. Two semesters! And I should warn any non-math-geeks trying to decide what math elective they want to take – my friends burned me in effigy after I recommended symbolic logic. I still don’t think it was a hard class and logic puzzles are fun. Matrix theory, on the other hand, is horrifying and should be avoided at all costs.
Anyway, here…. made me laugh.
Reminded me of my favorite math joke. Which, by the way, I tried to find so I could present it correctly but you’re stuck with my memory.
A student walks up to his math professor after class and says, “Excuse me sir, but I didn’t understand the proof on the second problem.”
The professor gazes off into the distance, nodding thoughtfully. After several minutes, he looks at the student and says, “And therefore, x = 3.”
And walks away.
Maybe it’s only funny if you had my math professors.
We take our amusement where we find it.
First let me say that my heart certainly goes out to those impacted by the bombings at the Boston marathon. I can’t imagine why anyone would think this kind of action is a good idea or what they hope to accomplish. It is just so senseless and heartbreaking.
I heard about the bombings when I went to visit Dad this afternoon. I brought him a memory book I had printed at Walmart with pictures and captions of our family pets over the years. Pets are one thing I can usually get Dad to talk about – we have a lot of funny pet stories. He seemed to enjoy the book and with a little prompting was able to remember things about each cat and dog. The book itself, if you are wondering, was a bit of a disappointment. I plan to go through Lulu to make another when I can find the photos or slides that I’m looking for.
The TV in Dad’s room had the news coverage playing though he clearly didn’t understand what was going on. “I don’t remember taking those pictures,” he said. You didn’t take them, I told him, that’s the news. “Well where is that?” he asked. Boston, I explained. Someone set some bombs off during the marathon. “What was I doing in Boston?” he asked.
Well, I have always said that everything is about him.