March 19, 2012

Celebrating World Home Economics Day

To celebrate World Home Economics Day on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 CityLine let me show some tips and tricks that you would have learned in Home Ec 8.

We started off with Hug your Favourite Home Economist!

We measured liquid ingredients in a glass measuring cup – you need to see the meniscus at eye level!

We even pitted an olive without getting anything on your clothes!

There aren’t any recipes for this week’s show – just lots of Show and Tell. Want to know How to hard cook an egg? Cut a mango? How about an avocado? Set your PVR for Wednesday, March 21 on CITY TV for CityLine there’s lots to learn!

In the meantime here is a rant I wrote in Healthy Starts Here! all about bringing home ec back.

For the Love of Home Economics

I was one of those weird people in high school who actually liked going. I liked hanging out with my friends, the clubs, intramural sports, and the after school activities.

I hated and loathed Chemistry, Physics, and Math, but I loved History, English and my blessed Home Economics classes.

The Home Ec area was an entire building at my school which was dedicated to teaching foods, nutrition, and sewing. Whenever I walked through the arches I felt like it was my building.

I learned how to scramble an egg, decorate a cake, and make a pitiful looking tote bag. After my sewing and design courses in University my professor told me I should never teach sewing, I was that challenged at it. I took her advice and I never taught anyone sewing, but I did teach many students that eating healthy was a choice we all needed to make.

In the early 1970’s every girl in my school had to take Grade 8 Home Ec. The guys took Shop. It was sexist, but it was normal back then, girls cooked, guys fixed stuff. Hmmm, have things changed that much?

By Grade 10, with some progressive thinking in the school board, the guys were finally allowed into the home ec classes.

It was weird and exciting to have males in our building. By the end of the first mixed class I had a mad crush on a Grade 12 hunk of burning love.

Lorne was a rough and tumble bad boy and I adored him. He wore key chains hanging out of his rugged ripped jeans, had long hair, and drove a hearse. The guy was hot!

Every classroom had little complete cooking units set up around the room and his unit was right beside mine. (And yes, I am well aware of the double meaning of that one)

Anyway, one day we had a fire in our unit and Lorne saved us. No pot over the flames, no fire extinguisher, no, Lorne just walked over and blew it out.  My hormones went mental. I was in love.

It was, like most of my love affairs, one sided. I never missed a class for an entire semester; I would sprint down the hall, through the arches and be there when Lorne arrived. I could always figure out how to wheedle my way over to his unit and offer some pearls of wisdom. And after it was all said and done, Lorne knew how to cook some stuff. Not brilliant, but he could cook. And I learned how to talk to older boys, not brilliant, but I could talk.

Those classes were teaching us valuable life lessons; how to get along in a group and knowing your way around a kitchen are important skills that you can use everyday of your life.

Home Economics or whatever you want to call a class that teaches foods and nutrition is no longer required as a mandatory element in education. As a result we are seeing generations of people who know nothing about cooking. They barely know that the kitchen is the room with the stove.

They know how to order take out, how to navigate a drive-thru, and how to get a pizza in their house in forty minutes or it’s free, but how to make something from scratch, is a total mystery.

And this is now affecting the health of our country.

In an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Alice Lichtenstein, a nutritional biochemist at Tufts University, and David Ludwig, a physician at Children’s Hospital Boston, argued that mandatory home ec should be incorporated back into the classroom as a means of combating obesity.

They suggest that teaching all kids to cook healthy foods will begin a domino affect in the health of the next generation.

Now, there’s a concept. Let’s educate our kids to eat better by making home ec mandatory, again.

In our country’s quest for healthier citizens we need to combat the ever increasing numbers of diabetes and heart disease. We need to bring back home ec. It will take a while to see the results, but if we don’t do something soon, it may be too late for many of us.

Petition your government to make foods and nutrition a mandatory class in high schools. Chemistry, Physics, and Math may have expanded my brain, but Foods and Nutrition has expanded my knowledge of health, and with it my chances of making healthier decisions all of my life.

Peace, love and fibre,

Mairlyn Smith

13 Comments on “Celebrating World Home Economics Day

Rosemary Gazzoli
March 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I couldn’t agree more. I took home ec between 1979 and 1982 and to tell you the honest truth, some of the things I learned then in those classes I still use today. How to sew on a button when it falls off my kids shirt, how to follow recipes, how to make a pillow for my couch, etc. I may have forgotten the periodic table with no great implication to my life now, but not having some of the skills taught in home ec really would have an effect on me today. I couldn’t agree with you more on the need for nutrition and cooking skills being taught along with some basic finance skills and money management skills. Also how to mantain a car for both girls and boys. Basic life skills should be incorporated into the curriculum and not assumed that kids will obviously learn it somewhere. Truthfully, my typing and office practice course seemed like a “loser course” at the time but has served me over the years as much as some of the advanced math courses I had taken. The education system is so out of touch with the reality of the world today. Sometimes I think we are going backwards instead of forwards even though we are more knowledgeable today. Thanks for listening.

March 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Here! Here!
Thanks for the fabulous comment!
Peace, love and fibre,

Regina Healey
March 20, 2012 at 8:17 am

I agree totally with you Mairlyn and Rosemary, home ec should be incorporated back into the school’s curriculum, I went to school in UK and back then in the late sixties and early seventies you had no choice, through the years I still use measurements and tips taught us back then in baking and cooking, and yes we were taught to sew different stitches, we made aprons and a kilt for our gym class, todays youth cannot even sew a button on anything it pops off.
Peace, Love and fibre to you all.

March 20, 2012 at 9:08 am

The power of home ec!
Thanks for the comment!
Peace, love and fibre right back to you!

Lori Shushack
March 20, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Whether that student will become a nuclear engineer, an artist or a homeless person, knowing basic cooking skills, budgeting, nutrition requirements and how to sew on a button are life skills which will pay off again and again. Home Economics includes food science, biochemistry, sociology, textile science, consumer and family studies. Home Economics needs to be part of the school curriculum to teach life skills.

Bring back the basics!!!

kathleen Smith Fairweather
March 20, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Hey Mairlyn aka my big sister!!
I still laugh out loud remembering the day you informed me that there was a difference between “wet” and “dry” measurements!!!!! and I hate to admit that was only a few years ago! Good grief……I guess I should have taken cooking 9!! Not only do I think you are the best sister but the best Home Economist!!! and I Love You xoxoxo

March 21, 2012 at 6:33 am

Love you back!
Peace, love and fibre,
Your big sister!

Karen Armstrong RD
March 21, 2012 at 8:20 am

Cooking skills are one of the best gifts you can give a child. And if parents can’t give this gift, let’s make sure kids have access to a creative home ec teacher and a foods lab at school. The health of our kids depends on it.


[…] This morning, one of my favorite tweeps (and a recent guest poster here!), Mairlyn Smith posted a link to her blog entry today – “Celebrating World Home Economics Day” […]

Sheri-Lee Desrosiers
April 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I had my 6 year old in the kitchen with me yesterday making pizza dough, which was the first thing I learned to make in home ec 25 + years ago. Tonight we are trying your Barley Risotto.

Donna Bauer
May 3, 2012 at 2:57 am

You would be surprised at even in the rual area how many young people don’t know how to cook anything unless it is in a box. We need to teach them healthy eating etc, for the well being of our county and our health care. The health of our kids depend on Teaching them what food is and how to prepare it.

Linda DiMaria
July 16, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I too loved to enter the Home Ec world at school. I loved the sewing classes and still remember everything taught to me. The cooking class information I still use and have my recipes from Grade 7 (I am now 63). I love to spend time with my grandkids teaching them to cook from scratch. What better way to spend quality time as well as teaching them life skills. I love to watch Mairlyn from her days on Harrowsmith, to cooking classes at Loblaws to BT and City Line. When we see you come on any show, we immediately sit and watch.

July 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm

This totally made me smile! Thanks so much for the comment!
Peace, love and fibre,


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