This article surveys the popular discourse around local foods and sustainable eating programs, exploring the widely circulated premise that women's demands for convenience have allowed for the triumph of supermarkets and processed foods over traditional, more labor intensive ways of provisioning. This article counters that demand did not drive mass retail, that work was not always saved by shopping at supermarkets or buying premade foods and that provisioning remained an ongoing, and sometimes frustrating, negotiation through the twentieth century. This new work on local foods comes from the Cold War notion that female consumers' desires drive change, and that consumer society in general is fundamentally apolitical, operating best when it operates outside the realm of the state. Ultimately, I argue that neoliberal markets, conventional gender systems, and a misunderstanding of women's history are central to many proposed solutions to food problems. This alternative history of consumption points to the ways politics has always been part of shopping, and that a truly new food system will need to unseat the structures of family life, gender systems, and labor in which food provisioning is embedded.
Tracey Deutsch; Memories of Mothers in the Kitchen: Local Foods, History, and Women's Work. Radical History Review 1 May 2011; 2011 (110): 167–177. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01636545-2010-032
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