Home Economics for the 21st Century

Monday, June 09, 2014

Lunch Served at P.S. 89 in Manhattan (Topher Forhecz)

Jeannie Fournier, senior director of nutrition education at the Food Bank for New York City, talks about CookShop, the Food Bank's program in NYC public schools that teaches kids about nutrition, where food comes from and how to shop for and cook healthy meals and snacks - on a budget. Listeners, what do you remember from your home economics classes? Do your kids have classes similar to CookShop in their school? Call in at 212-433-WNYC. 



Jeannie Fournier

Comments [18]

Food as spectator sport is horsesh*t.

These shows do NOTHING to promote healthy eating.

Michael Pollan made the observation that as food-related television becomes more popular the actual incidence of home cooking decreases and eating fast food crap, at gas stations or in the car increases.

Jun. 09 2014 11:19 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Yes, these silly "gourmet" cooking shows, besides being a cheap way for TV and radio to fill air time, do give the impression that you practically have to be a gourmand to cook at all. Cooking is not rocket science. It's mostly a minor skill that almost anyone can pick up they want to.

Jun. 09 2014 11:16 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Like the previous caller, I went to HS in the '70s (class of '75) & wanted to take shop, which they called Industrial Arts). They wouldn't let a girl take it. 2-3 decades later, I found out that a woman I knew who was 10 yrs. older than me had gone to the same high school & did take IA! Maybe she had more support than I did. Instead, I took what they called Home Arts. I remember 2 things about the cooking part: making something they called "ambrosia" & learning that when margarine was a new product, the yellow coloring came as a dot inside the (plastic) packing & had to be sort of massaged into the margarine to spread it & make it look like butter. In the sewing part, I finished the apron but not the jumper. I think I'd have done a lot better in shop class!

Jun. 09 2014 11:14 AM

I picked up knife skills working as a dishwasher in high school in 2005— but the big part of home ec I needed to learn on my own was how to build a repertoire of recipes and stock a kitchen for it. That was a bit more difficult because I'm vegetarian so the standard American repertoire doesn't work so well for me.

Jun. 09 2014 11:13 AM

My school in East Harlem had Cookshop for over 12 years. It was a great program and Jeannie was also great with the kids. We also had Cookshop for parents. When it first started we actually cooked in the classroom. It was great to take the kids to farmers markets and supermarkets to actually show them where the food comes from and how to choose food from the perimeter of the supermarket. Children began telling parents to buy brown: brown rice, brown bread and eat green. We even had a farmers market in front of our school and we now have a garden children can grow veggies in. Loved it!!

Jun. 09 2014 11:10 AM
Jay Marcus from Manhattan

Brian referred to an earlier interview he did last week with another woman from another city agency regarding food cooking and nutrition in school --- re. healthier food choices. Which interview was that?

Jun. 09 2014 11:10 AM
Jane from Croton on Hudson

Graduated in 1964 with and English major and Home Ec minor. Used it as a teacher in Peace Corps Cameroon. Learned math,food values,preaparations coordination of time. Wonderful exposure to kids who have had no exposure to cooking. In Ossining they took away Home Ec which was a real sadness. Kids who weren't able to do well in math or English could do both inHome Ec class. Much less problem with discipline. W real loss, I think,in theschool system.

Jun. 09 2014 11:09 AM
Patrice from Germany

When I was in school we only cooked once in home economics, because the teacher was too concerned about us getting burned. I took woodshop class and loved it. Soon after I completed my classes in the late 80s, both classes were canceled due to fear of litigation, if a child got hurt.

Jun. 09 2014 11:08 AM
Lia from New York

I have a son in public school in Manhattan and I've been very involved with the Wellness in the Schools program at his school (which helps cafeterias serve healthier alternative meals from what the DOE offers) Cookshop sounds like a great idea. As an avid home cook myself and former caterer, it has struck me that it might be helpful for kids to be learning cooking BASICS like knife skills, how to peel and chop vegetables, basic cooking techniques. When I watch my friends who aren't practiced cook try to chop or peel it takes them so long, and its such a cumbersome process that I think if kids were able to prep vegetables quickly, cooking them wouldn't seem so daunting.

Jun. 09 2014 11:08 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

What are you talking about Brian? Boys -- for several generations -- haven't even pursued the traditional male skills! They mostly play video games.

Yes, boys should learn something about cooking, if for no other reason than to understand more about healthy food choices. And girls should perhaps know more about those old, almost forgotten male "bastions".

But how about we get back to a starting point where each is at least learning SOMETHING in the physical world as a break from all the hours they spend in the virtual world?

Jun. 09 2014 11:08 AM
Susan from Upper West Side

Hahaha - home ec was the only course in high school where I received as grade less than an A-. I received a C because I got into a playful flour fight with another girl. We did do budgets and we did calculate the nutrient content of the meal. The only way I could get an adequate amount of vitamin A was to include carrots as the vegetable.

Neverthless, I had no intention of becoming a traditional wife. I wanted to be an engineer and aced my drafting and architecture courses to the shock of all the boys. At first they thought the teacher was favoring me, but when they had to do the mathematical calculations for the ovals for a drawing of a screw they changed their tune and started asking me for help.

In elementary school my son received no cooking lesson other than treats for holidays. They did participate in gardening and had a well known chef at their school who had events when healthier food was offered in the cafeteria.

He actually was coaxed his friends into attending a week long summer camp offered by a culinary institute where they taught them how to cook. He made one dinner for us once.

Jun. 09 2014 11:08 AM

Ah yes, meals -- the lost classroom.

While we're taking the teaching of basic skills, let's toss in how to make a left turn.

Jun. 09 2014 11:06 AM
Larry from Brooklyn

Should home economics be partly about economic, i.e., getting a mortgage, leasing an apartment, credit cards etc.

Jun. 09 2014 11:04 AM
rochelle from jersey shore

I grew up in Western PA. Not only did girls & boy take both Home Econ & wood shop (which I would call essential!) but in our High School Economics class we had 4 weeks on filing your taxes. Many kids were children of farmers and needed to know how to depreciate over tractors and the like over several year.

Jun. 09 2014 11:01 AM
Alyson from Midtown

I took various home ec classes in high school in the late 90s-early 2000s. I think I remember more from those classes than anything else I learned. I learned how to budget, look for an apartment, buy a car, cook, sew, and parenting skills. I feel strongly that we should make this required for all students.

Jun. 09 2014 11:01 AM
Dee from NJ

As a motherless child, I took home economics from Mrs. McNab and I learned to make broccoli and cheese sauce, which I'd never tasted. I learned basic cooking and sewing skills and I became a great cook.

Jun. 09 2014 11:01 AM
The Truth from Becky

I took home economics (as well as metal shop in middle school - made several spice racks ;o)) and I benefited from it greatly! Still.

Jun. 09 2014 10:58 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I think the return of home economics to be taught at an early stage is good. I think both boys and girls now should be taught how to prepare their own healthy meals rather than buying junk foods, and also taught just how sugar makes them fat and ugly and rots their teeth!

Jun. 09 2014 10:41 AM

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