Marc Harding, Home Economics teacher, Glenola School, Bangor Northern Ireland
Bring back Home Economics....Yes She Can!
Home economics? Remember such? Generations ago in pre-Julia Child days, families had a two-step program to survive when it came to food. First they grew vegetables, some fruits depending upon the climate, and beef, pork and chicken nearby. Next, families cooked what they ate.
If there was any formality to cooking at home, credit Betty Crocker - or family recipes handed down, usually from a grandmother. As our population increased, the teaching of the broad term home economics was welcomed in the home and by educators. Sad, but along the way of industrial progress, home economics lost status and was fused into all sorts of classroom subjects.
Sad, again, but wars, famine, politics, food scares, trade barriers, machined food stuffs, government inspection failures, fast food hard sell, family breakups, over-population around the world and fading interest of home cooking brought about dire needs to cook for human survival.
Cooking at home is a need in the USA. The roadblock, however, is that home cooking, home economics, is a lost art.
Alice Waters, probably the nation's finest scratch food practitioner, has a broad knowledge of where food comes from and how to get it to the table. She came up with such a simple suggestion: Teach kids to grow food; teach them in school to prepare foods. (The New York Times, op-ed page, 24 February 2006.) Simply put, she encouraged the Edible Schoolyard, a program she oversees in her Berkeley, CA., garden. She encouraged a kitchen classroom and a garden of fruits, vegetables and herbs. She suggested a cafeteria where students, faculty and staff eat together. To add appeal, lunch became a graded course.
The Alice Waters program works today - more than 1,000 middle schoolers weave food studies into math classes, history and science, the latter with classes on soil erosion and drainage problems.
Alice Waters, Advocate