Changes are coming to Ein Kluge Spise- among them that I will begin featuring articles about more than cooking. This blog started because I was passionate about cuisine, culture and health, and had no one to share my research or creativity with. Since then I’ve realized that at the heart of all my endeavors is the same ethos: fulfilling basic needs frugally and beautifully, creating from the place of producer rather than consumer.
The American economy used to be made of two types of households- producers and consumers. We were largely an agricultural society, so depending on what period in history you examine, at times we were primarily a productive population. At the heart of this home as productive economic unit was the wife and mother; a skilled female responsible for feeding, clothing, teaching and counseling. From within the home, she produced everything from clothing and food to soap and decor. During the Industrial revolution, society began to look towards urban centers for more money making opportunities and a busier, more cultured lifestyle. What had once taken hours, days or months to make by skilled handwork could now be purchased relatively cheaply, eliminating the need to cultivate craft in the home, while freeing up more time for other concerns.
During World War Two, women were called upon to do double time, as husbands served over seas, they operated in their previous capacity as homemakers, but now also as breadwinners, often as factory workers. Rosie the Riveter epitomizes this ideal, encouraging women that they were capable of being useful citizens, and getting through tough times as well.
Following WWII, women returned home, but the social, psychological and economic landscape had changed. The baby boom era was about Industrialization- of food, of lifestyle products, of clothing, and of cosmetics. Women were transformed into consumers rather than producers, and advertising and popular media told a story of affluence and ease in suburbia after the difficulties of war time living. This is the environment from which the pile of garbage known as “The Feminine Mystique,” became popularized. The book irresponsibly claimed women were bored and purposeless, and that what they really craved was careers and intrigue. The snowball of second wave feminism rolled on through, and while women were encouraged by academia to pick apart their navel lint under a microscope, industrial capitalism, globalist corporations and an ever nosier nanny state, crept in to make life easier for these single working females, working mothers, and two income households. Convenience became supreme and these tax paying dual income households had more money than time. More and more the public school system and after school programs raised America’s children- socializing them appropriately for the state and market’s needs, while the media glamorized familial dissonance and a wry, disinterested humor regarding Homelife.
This is all important, and pretty gross, but this isn’t what I’m here to talk about.
I’m here to talk about the commodification of creation. Hobby lobby, Jo Ann’s and even Wal Mart have realized that America’s creative spirit hasn’t been completely squashed. A thriving industry has sprung up around craft, and it is hardly cheap. While once, frugal housewives made clothing for their families in order to pinch a penny or save their children from the embarrassment of second hand, it is now far more costly to purchase patterns and materials for even the simplest of garments, and in the current economic environment, no one has the time to sew, much less embroider or mend. Further, many of these skill sets have been lost, and what once might have been handed down from mother to child has now become an act which requires research on the part of a working adult. More time. Maybe even classes, and that’s time as well as money.
With all this in mind, I’ve decided that while meals and health and cultural preservation are important, so too are production skills. So I’m pleased to introduce a new dimension to Ein Kluge Spise- “Something From Nothing,” articles about upcycling and resourcefulness intended to help individuals reclaim the world around them by creating it from what they have available. This both confronts Industrial society’s trivialization of the everyday item, while simultaneously encouraging both a creative view of latent materials at hand and the therapeutic effects of craft.
Frugality is often viewed as an oppressive necessity- however it is not that at all. By consuming less, spending less, we either free up time for adventure by needing to work less, or we free up money to put towards things that benefit us and our families- such as better food, travel, or the purchase of land.