On a (local) roll

November 9, 2007

That last post was fun – not just because of all of your fierce-mama comments that made me happy to have this community, but also because it felt a little like an on-line book club.

Next up: Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She, her husband, and her 2 daughters wrote this together about their year of eating only home-grown or locally-produced food. I love food writing, I love eating, and having our 5-years-and-counting CSA membership makes me feel both virtuous and full (an excellent combination). So I’ve been very excited about this book.

They planted a huge garden and decided to purchase only foods grown in their own community. They each got to choose one exception, as long as it was something that could be purchased in a way that supported organic farming and put as much money as possible into the pocket of the farmer – coffee was a no-brainer. She can get a little preachy at times, but it’s tempered by genuinely useful (and frightening) information about how, for example, you actually end up with asparagus on your plate in the dead of a New England winter or what a family of four can do with 400 pounds of homegrown tomatoes, and by stories and recipes written by her older daughter.

Now I’m walking around obsessed. The idea of buying locally grown foods isn’t new to me – it’s why we joined a CSA in the first place, and I think that environmentally-sensitive eating is probably the new black among certain segments of the population. But this has gotten me to a whole different level, and now I feel like I’m tasting the gasoline that facilitated the path of that New Zealand apple from the other side of the world into my fridge. Even the local co-op, usually pretty good about stocking locally-grown food, has peppers from Holland right now, even though they’re actually in season right now.

I’ve gotten to be pretty good about freezing berries and corn and the like when they’re in season, and my sister-in-law (back when we were actually spending time together) taught me to make sauerkraut and kimchi so I could manage the zillion heads of cabbage that come our way every fall. I’m still a little afraid of actually canning, though, which I know would help. Besides that, it seems like we’re shit out of luck in a New England winter, especially in the city.

So I’m looking for your ideas. What do you to do buy more local food, put more food up when it’s in season (without being Martha Freakin’ Stewart or sweating to death while canning every weekend of July and August), or otherwise support the locals?

And if you read the book, what did you think?


Baby Love

November 8, 2007

CMP72 asked what I thought about Baby Love, by Rebecca Walker (over to the right, in the extra-outdated category called “I’m reading,” which I created and then forgot all about.) It’s been a few months since I read it, but it’s still haunting me, so I’m glad she asked.

I like Rebecca Walker, and have for a long time. She was a sort of 3rd-wave feminist icon for me – someone only a few years older, with a famous feminist mom and knack for boiling down complicated issues into something a little simpler – but not over-simplified – and very much real in the day-to-day, rather than theoretical, sense.

Baby Love is about her experience in getting and being pregnant and becoming a mom. She has already experienced parenting in her previous relationship with a woman whose son was young (maybe 6?) when they got together. She played an active role in his life and has continued to do so even after her relationship with his mother ended. The mutual love and respect between Rebecca and her stepson is obvious.

But growing her own child is a different experience for her, and that takes up a lot of the focus of the book. She had me in her internal debates about how to be a feminist mom and how to be a feminist partner. She had me with her slow discovery that she was able to love another human so much more fiercely than she had ever known before – even before she actually met her baby.

Where she lost me was when she said (I’m paraphrasing): I don’t care what anyone tells you. You cannot love any child as much as you love the one you give birth to.

As an adoptive parent, I spit nails when I read this. I’ve never given birth to a baby, and I’ve never been a step-parent or a foster parent or anything similar. But like me, she’s only ever experienced parenting from one perspective. Despite this, Rebecca, who generally seems so careful not to presume that her experiences are shared by all, suddenly seemed empowered by her pregnancy to make an enormous sweeping statement about how is for all parents.

Remember that scene in the beginning of The Royal Tenenbaums, where they show the kids’ childhood? The dad insists on introducing his daughter as his “adopted daughter” every single time.  I thought of that scene immediately when I read what Rebecca Walker had to say about this.

I could rant and rave about this in a way that probably would be absolutely scintillating for you to read, but instead I will only say this: I can’t believe when I look at my son that he didn’t come out of my own body. I mean no disrespect to his first family by this, and it’s not that I ever forget their presence or their role in his life. It’s just that for love or money I cannot imagine being any more bonded to this kid.

Parents of any stripe or parents-to-be: what do you think?