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Lemon Balm & Petro-Masculinity
Scrap Kitchen 17- Bad dates, meat eating and delicious herby goodness
Content warning: Suicide, homophobia, gender bullshit.
I hope everyone had a wonderful full moon last week. Despite the much-needed rain I managed to glimpse the strawberry moon as she blazed through my window on Thursday evening.
That illuminated night was a full two weeks after some events that I have been mulling over. The delay in writing about this was in equal parts processing and finding the right words. Under the new moon, a few weeks back I had “drinks” with someone who thought that I and my kind (queers) were “anti-civilisational.” Not that I counted of course, as a woman who “just needed a husband”. It was a bit of a dark night of the soul that one.
Out the other side, and facing the ways we still have to go, it’s mostly something that can be laughed off. But as I sat, being told that men not eating meat was going to turn them into women and thus dissolve society as a whole, the vicious interconnectedness of the climate crisis and patriarchy came into stark relief. The subject of toxic masculinity and the harm it can cause the environment was covered by Isaias Hernandez on Instagram. But it’s something I wanted to delve a little deeper into.
Before I do I want to note that gender is a spectrum and the gender you were assigned at birth does not mean you have to perform a ridiculous list of norms. Dismantling the gender binary is essential, by acknowledging the traditionally “feminine” and “masculine” roles within society I am not agreeing with them. Bringing this back to the tarot for a second the idea of duality, the sun/moon, light/dark dichotomy is something to explore with ourselves. To balance and question. But there is not only night or day, there are sunsets, sunrises and twilights. Each of these exists outside the binary and so can you.
Diving right in, the fragility of masculinity within today’s society harms everyone involved, from the women who have to take on emotional labour, to the men forced to repress their own feeling leading to a heartbreaking rate of suicide in young men. The outdated and frankly toxic ideal of men not expressing “femininity”, having to be providers and performing masculinity, who does it help? Certainly not them. And definitely not the planet.
The addition of not only loud gas-guzzling cars (petro-masculinity) but also meat consumption into the crafted and confusing notion of masculinity pits climate action against traditionally masculine concepts. This has to lead to a literal gender gap when it comes to environmental action, where being seen to care for the planet is viewed as women's work. Stir in some far-right ideology and you have a deadly combination. Not just for the people involved in perpetuating it but for the planet itself.
The breaking down of patriarchal structures along with the rejection of ideals of so-called masculinity and the gender binary is essential for climate action. Just as white supremacist systems of oppression need to be dismantled, queer liberation needs to be achieved, land needs to be returned to indigenous peoples and accommodations made for those within society who are not able-bodied. All of this is interconnected with the fight against climate change. Nobody's Free Until Everybody's Free.
Steps towards this freedom, and by extension the prioritisation of planet health over profits or perception, can be taken. By reframing how we view masculinity and encouraging all people within our lives to speak openly and honest about feelings, passions and fears we can go some way to counter the pervasive culture of toxicity. I can’t wait to see the world that builds.
The Tarot card this week is the Three of Cups Reversed. One of my favourite cards, it speaks of recuperating from stress with loved ones but also taking time for yourself to individually evaluate your next steps. It does however warn of overindulgence and the need to seek balance. Ask yourself: am I enjoying or escaping? Where is reconnection needed within my life? How can I balance alone time and that with others?
This Sunday I spent my time working through the lemon balm that had been very much in the way for the past week. Suspended on an air-drying rack, slap bang in the middle of our house, it had been hard to avoid. While it is not a weed per see, I did have to de-weed the greenhouse of a large and obstinate lemon balm last week, thus its takeover of our communal space. And my dreams.
Related to mint, Lemon Balm is a perennial herb with a delicious slightly minty flavour and (apparently) a wonderful lemony spell. They can be planted once and will proliferate each year if allowed to go to seed. In an attempt to use up the now inordinate amount of dried lemon balm that I now have I spent my Saturday morning making vegan donuts with the addition of a quarter cup of powdered lemon balm. The only flaw was my lack of a donut pan so they spread and melded somewhat. Thankfully the flat doughy babies could be saved by sandwiching them with some vegan lemon buttercream icing and dandelion jam I had laying around.
Before mass drying most of a plant, I also spent a good amount of time making fermented lemon balm tea. For this take big leaves, crush/roll them between your palms until bruised, then place in a dry cool place to ferment for a few days. After 4-ish days take them out and dry them on your windowsill. The flavour is mellower than fresh lemon balm as the fermentation adds depth. Brew them as you would fresh lemon balm tea. My next foray into fermentation will probably be in the form of lemon balm mead, so watch this space. When it comes to baking these biscuits are on my list and ofc my old friend the adaptable pesto.
On the subject of pesto, beetroots are coming into season. The greens of which taste amazing in pesto, curry, pickles, frittatas and this amazing looking orzo dish. The beets themselves can be used to make Kvass, which has certainly grown on me since I first started brewing it. They can also be made into gnocchi, but be warned these look like mini-organs once cooked so not the best for entertaining. On the sweeter side, there is this beetroot and chocolate cake that blows my mind every time, chocolate chip ice cream, cinnamon rolls or tahini snack bars. On the farm, we’re seeding our fourth succession of beetroot at the moment and looking forward to the fresh greens from our first. Beetroot is an amazing plant to companion members of the cabbage family and can be sown thick and thinned later.
This week’s podcast discusses the links between climate change denial, misogyny and masculinity. Returning to this topic the suicide hotlines for the UK and US are +44-080-058-5858 and +1-800-273-8255 respectively. Please never be afraid to speak out.
Yet again I would like to thank each and every damn one of you for reading and supporting what I have to say. Every comment, like or otherwise means so much to me. So save your seeds, send me a comment and share this bitch.
Until then, stay scrappy
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