Starting from scratch : community, connection, and women's culinary culture
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This dissertation examines how women’s food writing, from blogs to cookbooks to novels, demonstrate a desire to articulate themselves as people within communities rather than accept a dehumanized identity as a consumer or set of credit-card numbers. I argue that through an emphasis on connection with one another via a discourse of scratch cooking and locally sourced foods, women are able to push back against the hegemony of corporate food and industrial agriculture. Working from a case study model, each of my chapters examines the distinct ways in which women assert their personhood apart from the homogenizing influences of mainstream food culture. As a means of articulating this woman’s culinary culture, predicated on a foundation of scratch cooking and local ingredients and relationships, I examine the food blog Fed Up With Lunch and the author’s use of an anonymous persona to interrogate the federal school lunch program; feminist vegetarian and vegan cookbooks authored by collectives of women who rely on oppositional identities in order to push back against what they view as hegemony; how diasporic Indian women use scratch cooking as a means of self-expression within the context of migration; and the novel cookbook as an example of injecting a feminist discourse of food into a traditional fictional narrative. Read together, these discrete case studies make an argument for women’s power to effect meaningful change from within the circumscribed space of the kitchen.