A feminist’s fear of the Family Meal

In a recent issue of Ms. Magazine, I saw a critique of the new foodie movements, the “go local” and “grow your own food”/”cook from scratch” movements; the critique essentially said that they are, in some ways, simply a backdoor to corralling women back into the kitchen. The way that we limit the concepts of family, motherhood, womanhood, and humanness disturb me, so it is always thrilling to find such a strong and thoughtful feminist voice as I have found in this blog. I hope you enjoy this commentary and that it makes you reconsider our mainstream social expectations of “family,” “family meals,” and “family time” as well as where those expectations come from.

(If you’re interested in the Ms. Magazine article, here’s their blurb on it and the link: Back to the Kitchen | BY MARIA MCGRATH
Today’s proponents of a natural-food “revolution” sometimes forget history — and return us to patriarchal fantasies of happy housewives at their hot stoves.“)


As a child I always hated The Family Meal. Too many arbitrary rules and too much meat. I’d throw pieces of food under the table, thinking no one noticed, then watch as my brother got pudding while mine was withheld due to the scraps discovered around my chair.

Years later, anorexic, I avoided family meals altogether. I’d hide away with my homework while others ate, finally defrosting Lean Cuisine in the microwave at 10pm. It would take me an hour to eat the half-portion I dished out, then I’d retire to bed, barely having spoken to anyone.

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