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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Food For Thought

Hey guys. Just some thoughts today on some books I've been reading lately that I thought were pretty interesting and kinda in their own way pertain to vegan food blogging.
Well, first of all, I went to the book release of The Riot Grrrl Collection by Lisa Darms at the Fales Library at NYU, which holds the original RG zines AND houses Kathleen Hanna's old filing cabinet, covered in stickers.
As a huge fan of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre as well as other RG bands (AND a fan of zines!), this was so super incredible to have attended. Kathleen read from her Bikini Kill zine, Johanna Fateman (of Le Tigre) read from hers, Artaud Mania, and Ramdasha Bikceem read from her zine, GUNK. Each documented the punk movement in their own ways: Bikini Kill expressly feminist, Artaud Mania art-school punk satire, and Gunk, a punk look at the New Jersey scene in the 90s through a racial filter.


And I got the book signed by them all!!!!!! Sorry the pic is kinda blurry; I was shaking and crying, haha. (I also wanna note that there was wine and food afterwards, and they specifically made a point that the food be vegetarian! These are obviously very smart people who realize that animal rights is a feminist issue. The food may even have been vegan - I didn't actually stick around. Pretty sure Johanna at least is vegan.)
Riot Grrrl was so important to people because it provided a strong, supportive community for people who felt theretofore voiceless, either due youth or gender or race. You really got this if you attended the release. There were a lot of tears and a lot of THANK YOU SO MUCHes. And not to get all sappy, but I think food blogging is very similar in its sense of community. I've always thought so but I was particularly struck by this since I was simultaneously reading another book, Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity by Emily Matchar.


There's a chapter in the book about blogging and the rise of domestic chic, which understandably struck a chord with me. While I think I'm pretty honest on the blog about what a fuck-up and a mess I am, and I'm obviously not trying to make any money off this thing or get a cookbook deal (just zines! buy my zines!) it is kinda scary that I basically only show you what I want to show you, and frame my life in a certain way, and in doing so perhaps glorify homecooking or inspire self-comparison.
I am by no means rich but I do live comfortably enough to have time to blog, time to cook - something I actually enjoy but am grateful is no longer expected of a woman - , money to spend on treats like cacao nibs or vegan cheese. I'm grateful for these privileges but I totally understand that some people don't enjoy cooking, some people have three kids to take care of and a full-time job, and some people are rural vegans who have more limited food options and occasionally slip-up in food choices. I'm also incredibly grateful for generations of feminists for having fought so hard to allow women the choice to cook or not (among countless other things.)
When I read in Matchar's book that "blogs' influence and trust level drive purchase intent" I started to feel a little uncomfortable and questioned how honest I truly am, or if I put a positive spin on certain food or products or restaurants, even unconsciously. (Is this the desire to be liked? To need to be nice, like women often feel they do?)
If I influence people to go vegan and eat more salads, that's cool but I'm not a spokesperson for a corporation and just because I eat a lot of Justin's peanut butter cups doesn't mean you necessarily should too. You know?? Maybe I am just especially impressionable but I definitely have bought products just by seeing the on yr blogs, even without a word to recommend them. So this month, I've been purposefully trying to cut back on "products." Unfortunately we live in a capitalist society and it's impossible to entirely get away from corporations: I'm not going to grow an almond tree, harvest those almonds, and make my own almond milk because I honestly don't have time or the abilities or the desire to do that. Matchar writes very eloquently on how cultish and judgmental extreme DIY can be. However, I have stopped shopping at Whole Foods since June 1st so I'm not tempted to grab convenience products, and I won't go to WF again until at least the end of the month.
This personal challenge ties in nicely with the Food Bank of NY challenge I was emailed about a couple days ago. To raise awareness about the sad state of an impoverished standard of living, people are asked to attempt to eat on a food stamp budget: in New York, that's $31.50 per person per week. From the 12th through the 18th, I'll be attempting to eat for $1.50 per meal.
While Matchar doesn't specifically highlight vegan blogs, I think both challenges will be interesting because vegans are typically seen as privileged people (see Cadry's great post on that here) but it is beyond that. It's not about superdomesticity or holier-than-thou. It's about a lifestyle of compassion for fellow animals and humans and raising awareness about suffering, be it by women of the world, non-human animals, or the impoverished because we can. Fuck speciesism, classism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism...
It's a sick sad world but we have a duty to make it better: "from each according to [her] ability, to each according to [her] need." Has anyone else tried an extreme budget challenge like this? Anyone else reading anything thought-provoking? I highly recommend both books (and I'm not even making any money for saying that! Though I do selfishly want someone to talk to about them more.)

21 comments:

  1. Such a thought provoking and powerful post! I'm so glad you were able to go to the book release. I agree with you that limiting my dollars to convenience foods (ahem, Whole Foods) is important, but like you - I don't have the want / need to do everything myself (i.e. almond milk). Eating on a budget is totally doable, and I've had to do it but probably not as low a total as those who HAVE to live that way. I should try a challenge such as this when I return. Oddly enough, I'll be seeing the original Whole Foods in Austin this week. It'll mostly be for browsing, as my kitchen is a plane ride away. Nonetheless, this post has me thinking, and it touches on a lot of truth. Thank you for writing it, Maud!

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    1. Thanks for reading. I'm actually excited to hear what you think of the original WF! Apparently Austin is pretty crunchy. Enjoy the trip!

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  2. Thanks for this; I love your perspective. I appreciate having my thoughts provoked on a rainy Monday morning! I was not aware of the Food Bank of NY challenge; it's definitely something to think about. I've been very conscious of how often I go to the supermarket of late (the more you go, the more you spend) and actually using up what I have. I can just as easily visit Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and a mainstream supermarket 1/week as I can 1/month if I throw farmer's markets into the mix. Let's shake things up!

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    1. Yea, that's another way that poorer people get sucked in - they HAVE to go more often because a lot of them don't have cars and only use public transportation. This world is so insane sometimes.
      Also, I've always thought you'd be a great partner in crime. I'm glad we're on the same side of this fight.

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  3. Way too many words and not enough pictures. I'll revisit this post when I've had less Vodka.

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  4. Wow, what a great post Maud! First, I'm so glad that you went to the event and were so inspired by it. I think that a lot of people are going to be inspired by your words as you've been inspired by the ones you read. I'm very intrigued about that chapter that you are speaking of and actually by the book in general. I'm going to have to check it out for sure. It's funny how our blogs can be more influential than we think... how many products we feature and the free advertising that we are giving these companies... hell, we're paying to advertise for them! It's kind of crazy when you think about it. You've definitely brought up a lot of thought provoking points, I love it!!

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    1. SO INSPIRING! I love those ladies. The book was a really fun read! I think a lot of bloggers would really relate. maybe you can find a copy at yr library?
      But yes, the free advertising, man... they must love us.

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  5. I really think about food choices lately and trying to not buy stuff that just catches my fancy that I may toss after eating a bite (ahem - $5 kale chips!). I try to buy stuff like vegan cheeze that I can use with recipes through out the week. I don not live near a Whole Foods, when I do go I buy a lot of convenience stuff like vegan doughnuts and bars - I think I get overwhelmed by all the options.
    I like clipping coupons and looking through sale ads. I try to save money and buy stuff on sale. I always like a bargain!

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    1. I eat way more than a bit of kale chips :) more like all of them at once, which is almost as wasteful. One prep day really does help, though, to have something you can use all week long.
      I am SO confounded by coupons, though! I feel like Hilary in The Fresh Prince who couldn't even pronounce the name. Haha!

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  6. Every time I try to respond to your post I decide it would take a conversation or an entire post to get it right. You've brought up many points that all require much thought and discussion. In a good way, of course. You asked if anyone has done the extreme budget diet and the one person I can think of is Tasha, who used to write The Voracious Vegan — back when she was vegan. You might be able to access some of the old posts. BTW, you won the cookzine on my blog — announcement coming Saturday. If you email me your address I'll send it to you.

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    1. Oh, yeah, it's a ramble of a post and there's a lot going on. I think I remember Tasha's posts. Thanks for the recc. I'll check her out.
      And thanks for the zine!!!! I sent you my info.

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  7. I have never noticed any specific foods/products highlighted on your blog- yet i have read many blogs that i suspect/know have sponsors who send free product yet that fact is omitted as the product is included in several various ways.

    I have heard about the food bank challenge, you are so awesome to be participating! I am sure your readers would love to see what your meals look like (lentils, cabbage, peanut butter, rice and bananas?)
    Ttrockwood

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    1. I am really scared about this challenge, haha. And spot on with the grocery haul! - chickpeas over lentils, though.
      Cabbage might not be a bad idea either. Thanks!

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  8. Amen to that. Riot grrl made me happy then, and does still. Particularly Le Tigre, it must be noted.

    Have I ever bought stuff that people have mentioned on blogs? Sure, but I have no problem with that. I assume that all the of the blogs I read mention stuff they like, not stuff they're paid to say is great. And obviously as they're all vegan blogs, I find new vegan products I'd never have known about otherwise, and so support vegan businesses, which can only be a good thing. I'd love to grow/make my own stuff more than I can now (second floor flat in big city does not lend itself to rural ways!) but that's not a problem for me either - we're all just muddling along, doing the best vegan shizz we can! People will do more of that stuff than me, other less - that's what makes their blogs so cool.

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    1. Yeah, I agree that the majority of people probably do really like what they're eating. It's more of a challenge to myself to not eat, em, so many PB cups....
      All we can do is do the best we can. Glad you're not guilt tripping yrself like I always do!

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  9. As someone who (also) sees the words through class/privilege/feminist/gender lenses and spends a lot of time critiquing not only the world and culture we live in, but the kinds of words and behaviours I see (and, yes, likely contribute to) on blogs, I really valued and appreciated your post here. Really well written and thought out. x

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    1. Thanks, Hannah! I'm happy to know there are similar minds out there. We're all working together :)

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  10. Still too many words in this post. Saw this article today: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/the-runcible-spoon-washingtons-little-food-zine-with-a-big-sense-of-humor/2013/06/10/67acabce-cc5c-11e2-9f1a-1a7cdee20287_story.html

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    1. How do I get my zine in the Washington Post?

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  11. Wow!!!!! I love Kathleen Hannah something fierce as well. So glad you were able to attend and meet her. I gave her a crocheted hat at Mich Fest in 2005 and it was so scary. Ha ha ha.

    xo
    kittee

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