Back in junior high or high school, many of us wouldn't be caught dead taking home ec. We may have regarded the class as outdated, sexist, or simply unappetizing (or maybe it didn't even exist). But a recent commentary posted at Food Politics has some people stopping to reconsider. Did you take home economics? What did you learn? Should it be taught in schools today? Over at the Food Politics blog, Marion Nestle linked to a recent piece in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In a JAMA commentary, Harvard pediatrician David Ludwig and Tufts professor Alice Lichtenstein suggest that we bring back home economics to provide students with basic food preparation and meal planning skills. Given the rise in obesity, the importance of health awareness (on issues like high fructose corn syrup, for example), and our culture's general lack of cooking knowledge, we think this actually makes a lot of sense. It fits well with initiatives like Michelle Obama's Let's Move! and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.
As Ludwig and Lichtenstein point out, a modern-day home ec need not be modeled after the 1960s, girls-only version. Rather, they write, "girls and boys should be taught the basic principles they will need to feed themselves and their families within the current food environment: a version of hunting and gathering for the 21st century. Through a combination of pragmatic instruction, field trips, and demonstrations, this curriculum would aim to transform meal preparation from an intimidating chore into a manageable and rewarding pursuit."
What do you think? If you took home ec, was it valuable? What would you want your kids to learn?
Emily Ho is a writer, recipe developer, and educator. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches classes on food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. Emily is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and the international Food Swap Network.
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