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Men in the Kitchen: Review of Man with a Pan

One of the how-did-we-get-here narratives of food goes something like this: Starting in the late 1960s, the women’s movement called upon educated women to forge a new path into professional life while an increasingly convenience-driven industrial food complex conspired with demanding weekday schedules to culminate in empty kitchens and the near extinction of home cooking. It’s a tale that oversimplifies the reality. But when Michael Pollan, in his 2009 New York Times essay “Out of the Kitchen Onto the Couch,”  singled out Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique as the tome that convinced women that cooking is drudgery, he set off a feminist firestorm. Several angry blog posts and counter-defenses later one thing is clear: If more home cooking is essential to changing the food system, men had better get into the kitchen as well.

It’s happening. In 1965, fathers accounted for only five percent of the time spent cooking for the family; now they’re in the kitchen nearly one-third of the time. John Donohue’s new book Man with a Pan, a collection of essays by fathers about cooking for their families, celebrates this change. Read more

Women in Agriculture: A Farmer’s Perspective

It feels kind of like the elephant in the room. It’s not that we don’t talk or think about it around here — indeed, we do both, rather frequently. But rarely do we discuss it with others. For some reason, it’s not the kind of subject that is discussed all that openly. Instead, it’s alluded to subtly, in a manner that just confuses me at first, until I remember that this is a little unusual.

“You don’t look like a farmer,” people say when I tell them my profession.

“What do you mean?” I reply, never able to let an issue go,

“Oh, I don’t know,” they reply. “You’re just little. You don’t look like you ride a tractor.”

It still takes me a minute to put it together. (Why do you have to be “big” to ride a tractor? Why do you have to ride a tractor all the time to be a farmer? What does it mean to not “look” like someone who does ride a tractor?) Until I realize, oh, they mean because I am a young woman. At this point, I never know quite what to say. “I ride a tractor sometimes,” or, “Yep, well, I am.” The subject changes. But I am constantly reminded that to be a female farmer is something a little out-of-the-ordinary, to work at a farm site staffed almost entirely by women, even more so. So I decided to express my thoughts about some of the intricacies of women in agriculture. Read more