True or False: Women Grow More Than Half The World’s Food

graphic that says "true or false?"Why, the answer is True! And in poorer countries they produce 60–80% of the agricultural yield, according to Jeannette Gurung, director of the Washington-based Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and National Resource Management, in this piece by Women’s E-News. And it’s because even big food movers like the U.N. World Food Programme are looking to buy locally-grown food whenever possible. This means they are turning to smaller operations, which are more likely to be run by women.

In the past, said Gurung, aid tended to support agribusiness and overlook agriculture in development assistance. But when food prices spiked in 2007 and 2008 development organizations began to take a new approach that brought small-scale female farmers more to the policy fore.

“They were putting the emphasis on the wrong actors and there’s been a shift to see small-scale farmers as the real farmers of the world,” said Gurung in a recent phone interview. “And once they looked at small-scale farmers, they began to look at women.”

More and more countries and NGOs are keeping gender specific data, which can also help aid workers in the field to see situations where women farmers have less access to tools than men in the same area and work to get rid of that disparity.

Say It Ain’t So, Joe

drawing of a refrigerator with a note on itDear Joe:

I hate my job. Do you hate yours? We probably hate ours for a lot of the same reasons–overworked, underpaid, little chance of advancement to anything remotely satisfying, no respect from our peers or superiors, terrible hours, a horrible commute, a dying industry, fluorescent lights, canned air, forced after-hours socializing, privacy-free cubicles, a pathetic health plan, and a constant feeling of despair. But you know what Joe? I think I might hate my job un poquito more than you hate yours. Want to know why?

Because I work with you.

Yes you, Joe. You and your goddamn lunch. Your goddamn lunch that you “cook” at work. Your goddamn lunch that you “cook” at work, but you put quotation marks around it because  “compared with what I usually do at home, this might not exactly be considered cooking.” Shut up, Joe! Shut up, shut up, shut up!

Making your lunch at home and bringing it is one thing. That is smart, healthy, and thrifty. But when I walk into the micro-kitchen we are equipped with here at work, Joe, I don’t want to have to deal with you and your sardines, and your “game” of making pasta with a teakettle. Perhaps you are finding your experiments “pungently satisfying,” but it’s a workplace, Joe. And the one thing a workplace should never be is “pungent.”

So I’ve “cooked” up this letter for you Joe, along with the rest of the office. We made a little game of it, and used the materials at hand–a piece of copy paper and a pen. And we’re putting it on the refrigerator for you to read instead of “cooking” today at lunch.


The rest of the Washington Post

She Don’t Use Butter, She Don’t Use Cheese

Artists Bompas and Parr created this “Occult Jam” (no relation to Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, as far as I know) for a surrealist exhibition in London. Bompas told CNN they chose “weird and wonderful ingredients” in order to “open up conversations.” There are three flavors, according to their website:

Absinthe and pineapple with sand from the Great Pyramids
Plum and Oak with wood from Nelson’s ship The Victory
Milk Jam infused with a speck of Princess Diana’s hair

Bompas and Parr aren’t new to this, of course. They’ve been creating various types of art jellies for some time now, and have a book out .

The book begins with an overview of the history of jelly, from Henry VIII’s ‘jelly hippocras’ to the fantastic work of the Victorians. It then delves into the science of creating the perfect jelly, using the very best ingredients and techniques. An array of delicious recipes finally ennsure that you can enjoy everything from super-economical fruity delights to flights of the fantastic. With cutting edge design and photography, and an unparalleled insight into the subject. Published by Anova Books in June.

They also claim to be the only people in history to have captured the sound of jelly wobbling. If their site wasn’t annoying and Flash-based, I would link to some of their projects like “Funeral Jelly” and “Wedding Jelly,” but you should go check them out on your own, along with their other food-themed art.  I will leave you with this.

Flaming Lips: She Don’t Use Jelly on Beverly Hills 90210 from Chris Buly on Vimeo.

Thanks to Mr. Pesco for tipping us off to this at Boing Boing

Some of This, Some of That

I plan to dip something decidedly unpleasant in an enticing chocolate coating and wrap it carefully in McDonald’s paper. Nothing dangerous, but something that a two-and-a-half-year-old will find “yucky!” – even upsetting – in the extreme. Maybe a sponge soaked with vinegar. A tuft of hair. A Barbie head. I will then place it inside the familiar cardboard box and leave it somewhere for my daughter to find. I might even warn her: “If you see any of that nasty McDonald’s, make sure you don’t eat it!” I’ll say, before leaving her to it. An early, traumatic, Ronald-related experience can only be good for her.

My war on fast food | Anthony Bourdain | Life and style | The Guardian

A rambling, occasionally offensive extract that proclaims at the end that it is “edited” (to which I respond: Not well) from “Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine To The World of Food And The People Who Cook” by Anthony Bourdain. But it did make me laugh at points, and have some salient critiques at points.

There is also much discussion of cocaine. And Jamie Oliver. And PETA. And when will people who want to sound edgy and transgressive STOP using “tranny hookers” as a phrase that means worse-than-average-prostitute?

The Answer is Access, Access, Access


The “It’s Too Expensive to Eat Healthy Food” Debate


There are some views held by well-meaning reporters and food bloggers that are so specious that it makes me want to hammer a nine-inch nail into my head.

The worst of these shibboleths is that it’s too expensive to eat healthy food.

Except that it’s pretty well-documented that eating a healthier diet IS more expensive, whether you go by the price-per-calorie model or not. And, what constitutes a healthy diet varies by person, so just because one person is able to eat healthily and inexpensively, doesn’t mean we all can.

What bothers me the most about this post, though, is that the author seems to ignore the fact that the expense of eating healthy foods is NOT just about the cost of food itself. It’s about access. How many grocery stores are in your area? Do you live in a food desert? Do you live out in the middle of nowhere, where there’s only one store around for miles? So much for comparison shopping. Do you live in an urban neighborhood, where there’s a fast-food joint on every corner, but the nearest Whole Foods is 15, 20 miles away? Do you have a car to drive to that Whole Foods? If not, what about mass transit? Does it even go there? Is it affordable to take it that far?

It’s also about time. If you’re working multiple jobs just to keep your bills paid, food shopping several times a week for fresh food might not be an option. Neither is taking the time to venture out to the suburbs to the aforementioned Whole Foods. Or taking the time to read through labels to avoid government-subsidized ingredients in processed foods, like HFCS. Or going to different stores to compare prices. And what about the time that goes into preparing a meal from all these fresh foods? What about the space required to store them? I’d love to stock up on boneless, skinless chicken when it’s on sale, but my freezer only holds so much.

And while the author keeps his/her post strictly about food, let me go beyond that to the subject of exercise. Being able to afford a gym membership is a privilege. Being able to go for a walk or jog in a relatively safe neighborhood where random shootings and muggings and rapes are not a huge threat? Also a privilege. As is having a home big enough to store exercise equipment. Or having time to devote specifically to exercise as well.

These are not excuses; it’s reality, for many, many people. We’re privileged enough to be sitting here on the internet, yammering on about all this, when people out there can only be concerned with surviving. And for a lot of people, that’s grabbing a cheeseburger and a caffeinated beverage from the McDonald’s dollar menu while on the way to work, just to have enough energy to work, because that is all that time and money allow.


-Julia Childless


Peggy Orenstein had a piece this weekend in the New York Times Magazine, titled “The Femivore’s Dilemma.” She starts her article by talking about all her hip friends—cracking wise about “the Vatican of locavorism” and laughs, “Apparently it is no longer enough to know the name of the farm your eggs came from; now you need to know the name of the actual bird.”

Her feminist friends are now not just staying home to raise the kids, but finding liberation in raising chickens, growing food, and making other necessities. But her casting of backyard hobby gardening as fulfilling the holes in the lives of feminists who wanted to work, as is usual for middle-class feminists, leaves out the fact that fighting to get jobs was a goal of the privileged. Other women were already working, not for fulfillment, but for survival.

In the same way, backyard gardening, in Orenstein’s view, is a new way for feminists to find fulfillment, a way to do more work than just the housework but less work than a full-time job. Meanwhile, Warwick Sabin points out:

“It used to be that keeping a few free-range chickens, tending some grain-fed hogs, and raising a small vegetable garden was how people simply survived. Now these are often vanity projects for young hipsters and retired hedge-fund executives who have discovered the forgotten pleasures of “heirloom” tomatoes and artisanal sausage. Incredibly, we’ve reached a point in our society where things that humans have done for thousands of years—grow a vegetable, smoke or cure a piece of meat—now provide the grounds for smug satisfaction.”

via Global Comment.

-Julia Childless