A Brief Herstory: Food Justice and Rebel Toddlers

Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of women writing our way back into history.

In the post, I stressed that one needn’t have done something “big” like discovering the cure for cancer, or be as famous as Lady Gaga to share pieces of history about their lives. It is important that ALL kinds of women write, record, and document their lives as a way of writing our way back into history.

To prove that I’m sincere about sharing even the most mundane details — it wasn’t just rhetoric, I promise! — I’m taking my own advice and sharing an ordinary, random piece of information about myself. Here goes…

In honor of women’s history month, a snippet of my own history — a short anecdote from my father about my days as a toddler fighting for food justice:

“You were at age 9 months when your mum started to wean you from breast milk. You stood up in your crib screaming at everybody, demanding your food. You were very aggressive, your body language, your voice… even my mum remembers the episode and started begging us to give in to you!

For two days it was a test of will because you refused to eat the mixed baby food we were trying to introduce to you. Whenever the bottle was brought near you it was swatted away in disgust.

Just when we were about to give up so you didn’t starve to death, you accepted your first bottle. And when you tasted it you just squeezed your face in disgust to let us know you thought it was lousy. You did that for a while before you finally settled in. Such rebellious behavior at age 9 months!

There’s lots more… When you first started to try to walk you would threaten us that you would fall down by saying: “I (will) fall down!” You knew we would be upset if you fell, which happened once in a while on our unpadded carpeting, in our Ilupeju flat with a thud that would reverberate throughout the house! We would have to beg you by saying, “Noo, don’t fallll!” You would do this for a while and when we begged you enough times, you would then reconsider your threat and then smile sweetly. This was your way of getting attention.”

It seems I was quite the rebel — and strategic protester! So there you have it — long before I knew what the word “activism” meant – I was demonstrating against processed baby foods. How’s that for documenting women’s history?

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote of all time:

Well-behaved women rarely make history.” — Ulrich

Here’s to misbehaving — and writing! (eh, same thing) — all damn month.

This particular post was inspired by a food and environmental justice activist I admire — Kay Ulanday Barrett, founder and managing editor of Recipes for the People.