On Mother Earth and Earth Mothers

I just returned from the Breakthrough Dialogue, where I gave a talk in a session on "Eating Ecologically" in a panel with Tamar Haspel of the Washington Post, Danielle Nierenberg of Food Tank, and Pedro Sanchez at University of Florida.  I thoroughly enjoyed our session and the rest of the Dialogue.  

At the dialogue, the participants were given the latest copy of the Breakthrough Journal, and I was struck by an article by Jennifer Bernstein titled the same as this post (I haven't been able to find a link to an online copy of the paper yet but I presume it will eventually appear at the link above).

Here is an excerpt from the introduction: 

Chastising the typical household for spending a mere 27 minutes a day preparing food, Pollan champions increasingly time-consuming methods of food production in defense of the allegedly life-enriching experience of cooking he fears is rapidly being lost.

The juxtaposition is jarring, if not much remarked upon. At a moment in history when increasing numbers of women have liberated themselves from many of the demands of unpaid domestic labor, prominent environmental thinkers are advocating a return to the very domestic labor that stubbornly remains the domain of women.

You may never have heard that agricultural productivity growth is (or should be) a feminist cause, but here Bernstein makes a strong case:

At bottom, feminist thought and action are incompatible with poverty, agrarianism, and neoprimitivism. Modern notions of rights, identity, and agency cannot be reconciled with premodern social, economic, and political arrangements. Female empowerment, in the long run, requires modern agriculture, energy, and infrastructure. Environmental ethics that reject those prerequisites in the name of the natural and pastoral are, simply put, irreconcilable with feminism.