July Book Club: “A Mess of Greens” by Elizabeth Engelhardt

I feel like a bigger “Hunger Games” fan girl than ever after tonight’s Feminist Kitchen book club + film series at Thai Fresh. Katniss/Jennifer Lawrence-as-breadwinner, the meaning of hunger, our heroine’s self-image and how she feels about those around her her (sweet Peeta, bosslady Greasy Sae, drunk Haymitch and that hunk Gale). The whole gambit of feminism in “The Hunger Games.” We even had a young adult (thanks for coming, Johnee!) to chime in on this YA blockbuster. To all who came: It’s always great to see each of you, and thanks for the good conversation.

Although it was tempting to pick “Fifty Shades of Grey” as our new book club selection, we went with Elizabeth Engelhardt’s “A Mess of Greens,” which we’ll be talking about at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 10. Yes, we’re skipping June, but that should give you some extra time to get a hold of the book, which is out on paperback.

Here’s a sample from the book that was published in Edible Austin, and a blurb from an article I wrote for the paper last fall:

Who knew tomatoes could be so empowering?

In the early 1900s, as many as half a million young girls throughout the country, but especially in the South, participated in tomato clubs, where they had to plant one-tenth of an acre of tomatoes, which would provide more tomatoes than they or their families could use in a year.

“This forced them to have to learn how to can them, market them and sell them – and then they could do whatever they wanted with the money,” said Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt, a University of Texas professor whose new book, “A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food,” (University of Georgia Press, $24.95) explores the history of women and food in the South.

Pressure cookers and glass jars weren’t abundant, so these girls were learning lessons in soldering, chemistry and the technology of the day, skills that they weren’t necessarily being taught elsewhere.

“I think that was one of the real attractions to girls,” Engelhardt said. “It felt modern and progressive. They were getting to participate in a world” outside the small towns they usually called home.

See you on July 10!

5 responses to “July Book Club: “A Mess of Greens” by Elizabeth Engelhardt

  1. How exciting! I’m thrilled to have such a smart, funny, engaged group jumping into the book. Thank you!

  2. I am reading this amazing book this week, and I plan to attend! Will an email be going out with directions, etc.? Thanks!

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