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Food for thought
Mpls. St. Paul Magazine cover, March 2015
by Norma Smith Olson and Kathy Magnuson

What? No recipes? How can a women's magazine focus on a food theme and offer no recipes?

Besides no recipes, in this issue of the Minnesota Women's Press you won't find diet tips or table decorating ideas, either.

"A woman's place is in the kitchen" is one of the old stereotypes about women and food that still lingers in our mass media, along with messages that women need to be both the queen of the kitchen and as slim and trim as possible.

The recent covers of the "women's" magazines Woman's Day, Good House-keeping, and Redbook display teasers for the stories inside: "Cute Crafts You Can Eat," "The Berry Diet Trick" and "Snacks that Keep you Slim." Woman's World's cover includes both "Boost Your Metabolism and Melt Pounds the Way Rhoda Did" and "Easy Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches."

In the local media, women are often ignored when it comes to food. Take the flap last March when the cover of Mpls. St. Paul Magazine touted 15 top local chefs - all male and nearly all white. Local female chefs called them out on it, asking, "Where are the women?" They described it as "a false and embarrassing representation of our diverse food community."

The mass media and our culture can perpetuate stereotypes that serve the status quo. The food arena is similar to the women's sports' arena, which receives relatively little coverage in local and national news mediums. (Think: Women's World Cup soccer. Think: Minnesota Lynx. Think: the national champion U of M women's hockey team.) An argument is often made that there is not enough fan interest to justify media coverage. Many would instead argue that less coverage contributes to less interest. To use a food metaphor: is it chicken or egg?

The Minnesota Women's Press is writing about food because we think food is a feminist issue. Some of us can cook - and some of us love to cook - but food doesn't have to define us or box us in.

When one thinks of the farmers who grow our food, one might see an image of a man in bib overalls and a plaid shirt, but many women are farmers, not just "farmers' wives." In this issue we profile Pakou Hang, who is taking the lead in the local Hmong farming community.


Women are also taking the lead on the right to know about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our foods. You'll read about some of these women in this issue. The reality is that, whether women spend all day preparing dinner or not, women still care about choosing healthy foods for themselves and their families.

Women are in the forefront of the food-service industry, too. They are the majority of low-wage workers which includes fast-food workers and restaurant servers. Only one in 10 low-wage female workers is a teenager. More than one-quarter are 50 and older. Nearly half are women of color. Close to one-third are mothers, and four in 10 mothers in low-wage jobs have family incomes below $25,000. Read about Ginger Jentzen in this issue - one woman's story of being a food server and fair-wage activist.

So, no recipes in this issue, but we serve up plenty of food for thought. And, we'd like to hear your thoughts.

Coming up:
"Water women" is the theme for October, 2015. Rapids? Calm waters? Tell us about how you navigate in the flow of your life. Send up to 150 words to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: Sept. 10, 2015

October advertising sections:
• Health Guide
• Home Guide
• Women and Pets Guide
• GoSeeDo/Calendar Guide
Deadline: Sept. 10, 2015

November's theme is "women and worth" and we're asking you: When was a time you changed your thinking about your worth? Tell us your story. Share your opinions. Send up to 150 words to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: Oct. 10, 2015

November advertising sections:
• Celebrations
• Education and Lifelong Learning Guide
• Girlfriends' Guide to Giving
• Holiday Guide
• GoSeeDo/Calendar Guide
Deadline: Oct. 10, 2015

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