Sunday, July 13, 2008

More thoughts on food and how it compares to knitting

Some further thoughts on food and women's work

This came to me last night as I was thinking some more about the comments on Norma's post that I linked to yesterday.

As knitters, we've all encountered the skeptic, the scoffer, the snarker who mocks us for spending hours knitting up something that we could just go out and buy at Walmart for pennies on the dollar, compared to what our yarn cost, never mind adding in the cost of our labor.

As knitters, we've all endlessly discussed this conversation, too. That yes, in purely pragmatic terms, those doubting thomases are right. It does seem insane that we would choose to spend both more money and time producing something readily available to us.

But also that there are an endless number of reasons to knit that have nothing to do with the cost There is the pleasure of the act itself. There is the joy of seeing an actual physical object created by our actions (particularly appealing to those of us who work primarily in the abstract world of computers). There is the feeling that we can imbue the objects we create with our feelings as we work on them - love, concern, warmth. There is also the true cost factor - that $15 sweater from Target is NOT the same as a sweater handknit our of fine merino, custom fit to our own body, and that I could NOT buy that handknit custom work from Target for $15.

I think the discussion can be the same for gardening, or even for making the effort to buy from farmers and preserve local food for the rest of the year. It might cost more. It certainly takes more effort. But just as with knitting, there are so many intangible benefits of partaking in the process that it is impossible to describe them all to someone already inclined to think that you're insane for spending so much time on something they don't understand.

And just like the sweater at the end of the knitting process, the vegetables you raise yourself, getting exactly the varieties you want, from soil treated exactly the way you think it should be are NOT the same as the industrial raised vegetables of the supermarket. They look different, they absolutely taste different, and science seems to be supporting the idea that they are healthier, because they (hopefully) came out of healthy soil, and they carry that with them.

There is, of course, a world of difference between having to do all this work and choosing to do all this work. I don't know that I would love knitting the same way if I feared my family would go without socks if I didn't knit them. I certainly get tired of the drudgery of cooking dinner each and every night. It isn't a stretch to think I would enjoying cooking even less if there were never an option for easy takeout or a quick run over to the supermarket.

At the same time, it makes me frustrated when I feel like people put me down for wanting to do either one. Just because I choose to do those things my mother's generation fought for the right to not do does not make me less of a feminist. It doesn't make me cute or "quaint" or less intelligent. I am *choosing* to do things that make me happy. If it makes me a throw-back, well, so be it.

I'll be the one over here in the great sweater with the delicious pie.


Linda said...

I think you hit the nail right on the head there. It's all about having the choice to do or not do that is so wonderful. And that is what I think our mothers fought for - not to avoid "women's work" but to add other options.

Ariel said...

Awesome post - so clearly and thoughtfully summarizes a lot of the things I've been thinking about. Thank you!