I sat on the train reading Michael Pollan's NYT article as a level of discontent slowly simmered. Every word, it seemed, struck me the wrong way. I'm a big fan of Pollan, and think An Omnivore's Dilemma should be required reading for every human being. Our relationship with food has become distorted, yes, but as Ed over at Cooking and Eating in Chicago points out, criticizing and talking down to the American public is not the catalyst for change. The reaction is likely to be akin to a teenager rolling their eyes at their parents. Our approach to food has evolved, for better and worse, but there is much hope on the horizon. It's happening here and on every other food blog as Michael Ruhlman noted this week. By letting the world into our home kitchens, we're inspiring others to do the same.
I do, though, agree with Pollan on one key point and that is feminism had a lot to do with the way our eating habits changed. Something had to give once both parents were away from the homefront, walking in exhausted from one job, only to start the night shift. But you know what? I get to say that because I'm a woman. I'm a product of that "you can have it all" myth we were sold growing up. In reality, the balance is more like walking a tightrope juggling flaming balls with a kid clinging to your leg. Sure it's difficult but why kick a woman when she's down? Besides, everyone is overworked these days. Most people I know, regardless of marriage status or if they have children, are under the same work-life balance and pressures.
"If you're going to have a sense of fear of failure, you're just never gonna learn how to cook."
-Julia Child, from The French Chef
Shed the fear of it not being a perfect meal everyday. Be realistic about the time you have, then plan your menu around that. I interviewed Julie Powell for Relish magazine and when asked how Mastering the Art of French Cooking affected her approach to cooking, she said "It made me appreciate what is truly essential. I still cook almost every day, but I cook much more simply and casually." Perhaps measuring time and numbers is useful in other areas, but when it comes to preparing a meal, it's about the quality of what you produce, not how many dishes are dirtied or beads of sweat are collected from your brow.
Michael Pollan's recent article sets people up for a sense of failure. It leaves readers feeling inadequate, especially female ones. It points fingers and scolds like a disappointed parent but offers no tangible solutions. So shed that sense of failure you felt after reading his article and hit the grocery store or farmer's market. Pick out a new ingredient or vegetable you've never had. Then go type the name of it into the Food Blog Search and in seconds, you'll find a friend to encourage you every step of the way. Here's a sampling of some of the women who inspire me every day.
Alice at Savory Sweet Life
Jen at My Kitchen Addiction
Tamar at Starving Off the Land
Elle at Elle's New England Kitchen
Gina at Bowl Licker
Natasha at 5-Star Foodie
Ulla at Goldlilocks Finds Manhattan