Each month we ask our readers to respond to a question. For September, 2015, we asked: How is food a feminist issue?

Cultural preservation
For years I complained that my mother taught my big sister Judy to cook and she taught me to clean up after them. That was essentially true.

But the deeper truth is that I learned much more than food preparation from my mother and mother-in-law.

Without them, I don't think our immigrant history and culture would have survived.

My mother taught me to make do in the kitchen without a lot of resources. We didn't have much, but she saw to it that we did not go hungry. She made things from scratch, including beaten fudge that is still the best chocolate ever.

Later, my mother-in-law introduced me to another immigrant culture in the form of lefse, sandbakkels, rommegrot and other Scandinavian delicacies. She acquired her skills from generations of mothers.

Women preserve culture. As long as there is still one lutefisk supper in Minnesota, we will be doing our job.
Ruth Nerhaugen, Red Wing

Food choices
Women's food and drink choices already sit under the oppressive umbrella of patriarchy-led media and marketing expectations (requirements?) centered on appearance. Pregnancy, a very personal choice with a public manifestation, comes with a shocking level of pressure and evaluation - personally, politically and socially.

Weight gain while pregnant is supposed to be "controlled" for optimum speed in returning to pre-partum size. This, of course, ignores the biological fact that a mother's body is making nutritional food for her child. Being told that as a mother-to-be you can "finally" enjoy all those foods you've been denying yourself presupposes an unhealthy relationship with food.
Keely Tharp, Roberts, Wis.


Food and perfection As a woman, it's increasingly challenging to live a life without having a long complicated relationship with food. Food should be about nourishing our body, but often it's a multifaceted, deep seated, emotionally tied and political battle.

Women continually struggle through the relentless pursuit of perfection, to achieve media's picture of the "perfect body" and to be the perfect mom by providing the perfect nutrition to ourselves and our family - all while working through years of emotional baggage left from dieting, weight struggles, calorie counting and defining choices as "good" or "bad." Sprinkle in health implications, organic [food], GMOs, reducing toxic burden and now food choices that are not only responsible for our own health and appearance but also those of our children and all other household members, as well as demonstrating our political views based on the choices made and where we chose to spend our dollars ... This is a heavy stone for anyone to carry.
Kristi Pink, Shakopee