Thanks Julie for leading this week's discussion, sorry I'm a little late! But really enjoyed reading your thoughts about this part of the book. I agree that it's hard to read the parts about America's lack of home-cooking and not feel like it's all women's fault. He never comes out and says it because I don't think he wants to blame women, it just happened to be a "side-effect" of societal changes. I'm trying not to take offense to it either.
I know I tend to take on a lot of responsibility that really should be shared with everyone. I don't think the answer is for women to return home and abandon careers, but, for example, schools do have the capacity to educate new generations about all things cooking and food. So when I read, I try to think of all the other ways this problem can be solved rather than point the finger at any one gender :)
I also enjoy Samin entering the book. It made me reflect on why I've come to enjoy cooking so much - it's probably one of the only times I focus on ONE task. Even while doing my daily work-outs (when I should be focused and taking time for myself) I'm thinking about all the work I need to get done, or my schedule for the day. When I cook, without even trying, I focus completely on the task at hand. I've even started playing music while I cook and it has made the experience even more therapeutic.
Jennifer, I'm on track to finish Part 3 but don't mind either way!
Hi Everyone, and thank you, Julie, for starting this week’s conversation with great thoughts and reflections!
I hadn’t really felt the way Julie was feeling in terms of Pollan pointing a finger at women, but then again, I’m not a woman! However, he does seem to be conscious of the fact that he could come across that way when he says on p.184: “Now, when anyone—especially a man—expresses dismay at the decline of home cooking, a couple of unspoken assumptions begin to condense over the conversation like offending clouds.” He points out that woman have “traditionally done most of the household food work,” but on the next page points out the ultimately the large part of the blame most likely rests with the food industry, which turned its wartime efforts into peacetime profits:
“…The shift toward industrial cookery began not in response to a demand from women entering the workforce, or even from feminists eager to escape the drudgery of the kitchen, but was mainly a supply-driven phenomenon. Processing food is extremely profitable—much more so than growing it or selling it whole. So it became the strategy of food corporations to move into our kitchens long before many women had begun to move out.”
I also thought the discussion that follows the decline in home cooking that continues on p.187 was quite interesting. In looking at the food industry he shows how much of their message was actually antifeminist. Ads were still aimed at women thus reinforcing the idea that it is their responsibility to feed the family, albeit now with processed fast foods. It’s sad to see how the advertisers have “manufactured a sense of panic about time.” I think one of the best moments in the day for my family is our leisurely breakfast, which is often just a big bowl of oatmeal with various fruits and other toppings heaped on. (Of course, part of the reason we can have a long breakfast is our two young boys like to wake up more than 2 hours before my wife has to leave for work!). To imagine replacing this family time with a cereal bar for my wife to “enjoy” on her walk to work is not very appealing to anyone in my family.
The quote from Harry Balzer that closes out that chapter does a good job of summing up how I feel. “You want Americans to eat less? I have the diet for you. Cook it yourself. Eat anything you want—just as long as you’re willing to cook it yourself.” I’ve found that I have a lot less snacks during the day since I discovered I could make my own crackers and potato chips (although I do love making popcorn on the stove several times a week, lightly sweetened with a few spoonfuls of maple syrup!). Because I strive to follow a “locavore” diet that pretty much rules out most processed foods. Thus if I want bread, crackers, chips, cookies, or anything else that might make a quick snack I have to spend the time making it. I wouldn’t say that I’m motivated out of a sense of wanting to diet, but I’m sure it does help my family stay healthy.
This section of the book ends on a good feeling, with Pollan’s family gathered around the table enjoying one of Samin’s recipes and sharing about their day. With young children our meals aren’t always quite so idyllic but we do often enjoy just sitting at the table after we’re done with a nice homemade meal. I think this feeling is amplified when we get together with our friends for dinner and all contribute to the meal. The kids go play and we get to sit and sip the end of our wine and just enjoy the peace of a nice moment together.
I say yes to all of chapter 3, but that’s because I’m already finished with it….
Great thoughts, not much to add but I love chopping onions.