Organic Consumers Association

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The 'Femivore': New Breed of Feminist, or Frontier Throwback?

Have locavores and feminists -- factions that a few years ago, some bloggers believed to be fundamentally at odds -- become allies?

That's what Peggy Orenstein suggests in her essay, "The Femivore's Dilemma," for today's New York Times Magazine. The author of several best-selling nonfiction accounts of modern women's life (and an acquaintance of mine), Orenstein thinks that "the omnivore’s dilemma has provided an unexpected out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming [ Mad Men housewife] Betty Draper." Stay-at-home moms -- at least four in Orenstein's Berkeley, Calif., orbit -- are these days obsessing less over which high-end stroller to buy (if any) and more about which tomato variety to plant or laying hen with which to stock their backyard coop.

Writes Orenstein:

Femivorism is grounded in the very principles of self-sufficiency, autonomy and personal fulfillment that drove women into the work force in the first place. Given how conscious (not to say obsessive) everyone has become about the source of their food — who these days can’t wax poetic about compost? — it also confers instant legitimacy. Rather than embodying the limits of one movement, femivores expand those of another: feeding their families clean, flavorful food; reducing their carbon footprints; producing sustainably instead of consuming rampantly. What could be more vital, more gratifying, more morally defensible?

She's on to something. Look around the food movement -- the majority of faces are female, and they by no means belong just to "yoga moms" shopping at Whole Foods and farmers markets. An about-to-be-released new book, "Farmer Jane" by Temra Costa, introduces dozens of passionate female farmers, moms, businesswomen, chefs, and activists who are changing the way we eat and farm.

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