Bring Back Home Ec!

Original Image by Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr
Original Image by Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

My, how far we’ve come in that last 200 years.  Not only is the concept of “homemade” and “from scratch” impressive nowadays, but often times obsolete in Generation Y’s vocabulary.

Yes, there are the few that go to culinary school or grew up in the kitchen, but with many school’s elimination of required home ec classes, there has been a decrease in home cooked meals and an increase in convenience foods.  A coincidence? I think not.

I’m currently taking a class on obesity and my professor brought the article, “Why Home Economics Should Be Mandatory” to my attention.  The inclusion of home ec classes not only help hone cooking skills, but help teach decision making, math conversions, frugal shopping, shopping in bulk, budgeting and general maintenance of equipment and a kitchen. homeecpic

So, where did the concept of home made get thrown out and convenience brought in? The article highlights “Betty Crocker’s” role in such undoing.  Also, a leveraged buyout of the home ec trade itself:  by pouring money into grants and fellowships for the American Home Economics Association—$288,250 in one year and “sponsoring candidates for the organization’s top leadership posts, candidates who would bring a decidedly pro-industrial view to home economics” (Moss).

The biggest obstacle incorporating such classes into schools is funding.  But producing generation upon generation of people who don’t know how to feed themselves healthily or manage their finances is generating massive, cascading societal costs.

Reallocation of some funds may be the necessary action to help “save” our youth.  Perhaps, reassess funds for sports team?  That’s just a thought.

We can thank Ellen Swallow Richards, the founder of home economics for her great contribution to home making and encouraging the education of life skills.  So, when you’re asking yourself what you changes you want in your school or your children’s school? Why not bring up home ec? Ms. Richards would thank you. A bonus–homemade cakes cost less and taste better than store bought!

Photo Credit: Health in Nation


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