Tonight on NPR I heard this interview with Barbara Kingsolver concerning her new book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I only caught a few minutes on my way home from working out, but I hope to find time to listen to the entire interview.

In discussing the different ways we approach food, she mentioned cultural and generational differences among how we as women approach the art of cooking. She talked about professional French women in Prada heels who will move smoothly in a conversation from postcolonial literature to types of mushrooms, while professional working women in America have somehow digested that discussing food and cooking is below them, generally speaking. We have somehow inheirited from the previous “I am woman, hear me roar” generation the idea that the kitchen and cooking was a type of slavery.

How often do we women describe cooking as a “chore” or meal planning as something that “has to be done”? I know I have felt this way many days, and I’m currently a SAHM!

 Obviously, there are multiple exceptions to these ideas, and I do enjoy cooking and making creative meals. I get a little thrill when I’m able to make something at the last minute from whatever we have in the pantry and it turns out delicious. And I try to make something new at least once a week (though now I’m working on actually rotating meals more often, since I usually can never remember what it was that we like so much the week before!). Of course, there are some of us that don’t like to cook at all, and that’s fine.

However, what really caught my attention was her discussion of food and eating in “sin” language. That somehow, sitting down for a good meal has become something “bad.” She spoke of how cooking should be a joy, a pleasurable experience that is healthy and good for us and that doesn’t have any negative connotations. She, of course, discovered this when her family began living a more agrarian lifestyle and harvesting their own food, raising chickens and growing crops.

I live in an apartment in a city where I have to drive to a Farmer’s Market if I want to get locally grown vegetables (and another trip with an infant in tow is always interesting). I’m thinking of growing some small things in a container garden on our porch, even if it is just herbs and some tomatoes. Kingsolver mentions that when our produce is grown locally or in our own gardens it just tastes better. Would you agree?

How do you make meals more pleasurable? Do you grow your own food? Do you purposefully buy locally? How do you make cooking more enjoyable? Have you thought about repenting from the “sin language” we use to desribe our food choices?

Some of our friends live in suburbia, but their church offers land on which the members can grow vegetables to share (with 10% going to a local co-op). I think that’s a great way to become more in tune with where our food comes from, and hopefully, helps us enjoy it more, while also giving back to the community. I wish more churches would do this instead of building gymnasiums! I know when we go to a potluck with these friends and others who have small garden plots, I always look forward to fresh squash, green beans, or cobbler with fresh berries from someone’s backyard. Soon, I hope to be bringing some of my own, apartment patio-grown delicacies!

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