I'm a proud feminist, and I also love to cook. Even more, I love to grocery shop. Picking out a recipe and then hitting the supermarket to put the necessary ingredients into my basket is a small thrill for me during what I'd describe as a bleak time, politically. Of course, just walking into a grocery store to go shopping or stepping into the kitchen to cook can feel like trading in your values and beliefs for age-old gender norms.
Sometimes, I get so giddy in the grocery store that I feel like a feminist failure. Am I doing this wrong? Is it possible to smash the patriarchy with one hand and pick out a package of chicken breasts with the other?
I like to think that the answer is yes.
In a world where women are regularly and systematically stripped of our right to make choices and control our own lives, grocery shopping can be an act of feminism. At least it is for me.
Food and Feminism
You might be wondering what exactly food has to do with feminism. When people think of feminism, dozens of important issues come to mind, including reproductive rights, the gender pay gap, intimate partner violence, paid leave, and more. Food and the behaviors around it rarely make the list.
It's true that women and food have a bit of a sordid history, mainly because for decades the pairing of women and food has centered around dieting and domesticity — both of which have been used to control women and make us subservient to the ideals of men.
But food quite literally gives us life, and in the case of women, it can also give us power. No, cooking and grocery shopping aren't going to close the pay gap or improve our access to reproductive healthcare. Of course not. However, at a time when it feels like our rights are being attacked on a regular basis, choosing what to nourish our bodies with is a small but important way to exercise self-care.
How Grocery Shopping Is My Own Feminist Act
Maybe this is why I take refuge in the grocery store. Walking the aisle, filling my basket with the foods that I know will bring me joy and make my body healthy and strong, feels less like a gendered chore and more like a small act of resistance. I know that where and how I spend my money matters: I can support the stores and brands that align with my ideals, while boycotting and thus negatively impacting those that don't. There's power in that.
As one of the millions of women who marched in January and continues to protest and write letters to my representatives, I do what I can, when I can. But it's the everyday acts of resistance that truly feed my feminism — and that includes grocery shopping.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about the long-withstanding stereotypes that come with cruising the produce section, but I refuse to feel bad about something I really enjoy. The reality is, our moms and grandmothers had to shop and cook; it wasn't a choice for them as much as an obligation — and an expectation. That's not true for me.
My weekly trips to the store aren't a result of something my partner expects me to do. Rather, it's something I actually chose to be in charge of. It feels empowering to make such an important decision that affects my daily life — one that put me in charge of feeding myself and my family.
While my partner may come with me to the store, or even go to the store for me if I am too busy, the food that goes on the shopping list and ends up in the cart is ultimately my decision, and that's how I like it. I enjoy choosing what we eat and where we shop, and knowing that I'm the one making the decisions about the best way to nourish myself and my loved ones.
Every week, while I watch news coverage about the rollback of women's rights, I feel angry and helpless. Knowing that I still have the power at the end of the day to decide what food I buy and where I get it from gives me at least a little bit of that power back. In a time like this, that's incredibly comforting — my own mini resistance.
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Can you relate?