A recent essay in the New York Times Magazine captures a mini-trend among four California women who are building chicken coops in their backyards. “Apparently it is no longer enough to know the name of the farm your eggs came from; now you need to know the name of the actual bird,” writes Peggy Orenstein.
But Orenstein, who lives in Berkeley, Calif., surmises that the backyard farming offers some educated, stay-at-home moms a green and feminist-approved way of embracing domestic life that she calls femivorism. Femivorism, she writes, is a sort of hybrid between feminism and locavorism.
“The omnivore’s dilemma has provided an unexpected out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming Betty Draper,” she writes. “Given how conscious (not to say obsessive) everyone has become about the source of their food — who these days can’t wax poetic about compost? — it also confers instant legitimacy.”
Orenstein cites the experience of Shannon Hayes, a grass-fed-livestock farmer in upstate New York who wrote a book called Radical Homemakers for “tomato-canning feminists.” “Prior to this, I felt like my choices were either to break the glass ceiling or to accept the gilded cage,” Hayes says.
Femivorism, like feminism, locavorism — and some might say environmentalism — is based on self-sufficiency. Women with their own farms or livestock can feed their families good food, reduce their carbon footprint and promote sustainability.
“My femivore friends may never do more than dabble in backyard farming — keeping a couple of chickens, some rabbits, maybe a beehive or two,” writes Orenstein. “But they’re still transforming the definition of homemaker to one that’s more about soil than dirt, fresh air than air freshener.”