Last year, the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A got itself into some uncomfortably hot water by publicly denigrating homosexuality. Last week, Italian pasta maker Barilla fell into the same cauldron when the company’s president announced that LGBT people “can go eat someone else’s pasta.” Responses to Pastagate were mostly amused, and rival pasta maker Bertolli was quick to run a lighthearted, gay-friendly ad campaign.
Sexuality and gender politics in food can be touchy, but also irreverent. Last year, for example, the humorist Simon Doonan published a spoof book, Gay Men Don't Get Fat, in which he divided food into two categories: gay food (think light) and straight food (think heavy). (Successful men, in the Doonan alt-universe, actually need to be bisexual in their dietary habits to stay healthy.)
The blogger Flavia Dzodan, on the other hand, thinks that "heteronormativity" is the elephant in the foodie room — that food, in our culture, is still all about gender and sexual norms. As Jim Sollisch noted earlier in September, when he wanted to take home ec instead of woodshop in the early 1970s, the only way he could do it was not by integrating the girls’ classroom — too sexually threatening! — but by starting a second, boys-only class.
Last week, in The Atlantic, Sonia Faruqi took up this challenge with an in-depth look at the hidden gender issues of the way we farm today. In a nutshell: Farm culture is too damn macho. If more women were farmers, we might not have factory farms.
OK, so this presumes that all women are just softhearted animal cuddlers. But a more equitable gender distribution on farms, of course, would be a good thing.
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