If a daily trip to the vegetable patch to harvest vegetables and to the chicken coop to gather eggs means a woman is a femivore, then so be it, though I think the term is rather silly. Historically speaking, folks who did those things were just called "farmers," at least if they sold their produce or eggs. Otherwise, they were called "gardeners who kept chickens."

Every day I visit our hens, check their feed and water, and collect eggs. In the summer I freeze, can, and dry fruits and vegetables, and this year hope for a good honey harvest from the beehives. I never thought I was "radical" (see Shannon Hayes's 2010 book, Radical Homemakers). Rather, I've been inspired to live a little more like my grandmother did. I always admired her and her simple farmer's life.

In last week's New York Times article "The Femivore's Dilemma," Peggy Orenstein describes the trend among educated women in the West to leave successful but unsatisfying careers to reconnect with nature by keeping bees and chickens and growing vegetables. While the term is a play off of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, Orenstein uses femivore to describe women who are taking "the very principles of self-sufficiency, autonomy and personal fulfillment that drove [them] into the work force in the first place," and applying them in the home.

Orenstein cites four women who gave up careers to build coops in their backyards, and she connects coop-building to the women's search for meaning. We didn't find it as homemakers in the 1950s, and we haven't found it in a paycheck since. Orenstein thinks keeping chickens is another way women are searching for meaning; if they can be productive and connected to nature, life will be fulfilling. Yet she worries that the coop ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.