Homemaker: the New Radical

We are on the brink of something big, something universal and something worthy of a generation fumbling ever closer to the Millennium. Already, there are the avant garde gathering discreetly to blog spaces, kitchens, backyards and farms. They are the "Radical Homemakers"* Shannon Hayes writes about*; women who want to "[reclaim] domesticity from a consumer culture," who aren't intimidated by the world's insistance that "he who holds the gold makes the rules," and who want a more liberating and empowering career - one that feeds the soul rather than slowly eroding it...and it has to do with nourishing our families.

I love how Hayes comes out and says what I have been thinking for the last few years, that "eating local, organic, sustainably raised, nutrient-dense food [is] possible for every American, not just for wealthy gourmets or self-reliant organic farmers. But to do it, we need to bring back the homemaker."

That is a double-fisted punch, so let's examine the right hook first: the implication that we should eat local, organic, sustainably raised, nutrient-dense food. That's all right if you're talking to a group of dietitians, environmentalists or foodies, right? Hold on. In our Latter-day Saint paradigm, where there IS no temporal without the spiritual, it goes without saying that we cannot participate in any physically tangible endeavor without experiencing the very-real spiritual consequences...and that includes eating. 

Eat Local Food. Haven't the Saints done that from the very beginning, out of necessity? Under Brigham Young it wasn't just a local food economy that was encouraged but production of their own clothing and every other resource possible. It just makes sense to anyone wishing to retain power and purity over one's own food supply. And what is more local than your own backyard (or front yard or rooftop plus every other nook and cranny in which seeds can be crammed?)

Eat Organic Food. And I would go a step further and recommend eating biodynamically grown food (a system of cultivation that treats soil fertility, plant growth and livestock care as ecologically interdependent operations and naturally lends itself to sustainable, nutrient-dense food. And, yes, pastured livestock is essential to soil fertility.).  

What vast web of life was affected by what went onto your plate: treatment/extortion of the soil, soil organisms (or complete lack thereof if pesticides and conventional fertilizers were used), the workers, the animals, the sea life that is harmed by irrigation run-off full of neurotoxic chemicals, and on and on? We think of mankind being called to give an accounting for all these things someday but we don't think of the price we pay daily, in spiritual terms, when the fork meets our mouth encumbered with all the residual energies inhabiting the food we eat.         

Now here comes the left hook. We need to bring back the homemaker. Every home needs one...someone to do the hunting out and gathering together of real food, someone to raise what can be raised at home, and someone to prepare it in a way that will absolutely fill up the souls of those fortunate enough to live there. Food corporations would love you to believe that they can and will do that. But they never have and they never will. It's not a position that can be outsourced because there is no other entity that cares enough about the people in the home to adequately do that job than the homemaker.         

And who says the role of homemaker is always and only ever the mother? Sometimes many makers make a home. Sometimes Grandma takes a turn, or Dad. Sometimes it is according to the season of one's life. But there's no fire in the hearth without someone to tend it and the weight of responsibility for the home fire rests on...yes, women and mothers.

Many homes house women but far fewer are graced by homemakers. And it is the homemaker that will change the world. In contrast to "he who holds the gold makes the rules...she who doesn't need the gold can change the rules."(Hayes) We change the rules when we develop skills of self-reliance and by nurturing interdependent familial and community relationships. 

Again, I echo Shannon Hayes: "If you have learned to live on less in order to take the time to nourish your family and the planet through home cooking, engaged citizenship, responsible consumption and creative living" then you are already caught up in this new wave of "radical" homemaking.  

The home fire is calling. What say ye?

* This is some highly recommended reading: "Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity From a Consumer Culture" by Shannon Hayes, 2010, Left to Write Press