More schools should return to teaching home ec, argues a Michigan State history professor in the New York Times. No, not the home ec as it's come to be known in "cat's-eye glasses" stereotype, but the home ec as it was originally conceived—as a way to teach kids the basics of preparing healthy food, writes Helen Zoe Veit. It "could help us in the fight against obesity and chronic disease today," she writes.
Back in the day, home ec mattered. "When few understood germ theory and almost no one had heard of vitamins, home economics classes offered vital information about washing hands regularly, eating fruits and vegetables, and not feeding coffee to babies, among other lessons." We have a different but just as pressing need today in that most kids don't know how to cook, relying instead on processed food. It might seem far-fetched, "but teaching cooking—real cooking—in public schools could help address a host of problems facing Americans today," writes Veit.