My Generation
Home economics: in your school?

Home economics: in your school?

Food, science, family and home leadership are all part of a successful home economics - or family and consumer sciences - curriculum. What's it mean for agriculture?

About a year ago, I wrote a blog asking, in essence, whatever happened to home economics? It led to some great email conversations, including some with the instructor of a set of college curricula on home economics education – though to be modern and correct, it's now known as Family and Consumer Sciences.

One thing led to another and yesterday I got to Skype with one of her classes. We talked a lot about teaching the science behind food production, and what students need to know to be good leaders in their home and family.

As future teachers, they were (not surprisingly) well informed and asked great questions. Among them: "Should we be teaching more about where food comes from, before purchase and preparation?"

Frankly, I think that's a brilliant idea.

I wish every student at every high school were required to take a foods and nutrition class, and that they'd be presented with this kind of material. It's good, solid information for anyone entering any kind of food or agricultural production field, or anyone who just wants to eat.

The future teachers also asked what farmers would like them to teach, to which I answered, science. Please. The science. All the science. I repeated my mantra: that people should have options in food choices but they should actually understand what they're choosing – and avoiding. For the love, don't avoid GMOs because you think they're sprayed on something. Be educated.

That led to a great conversation on the lean finely textured beef debacle of about three years ago (also regrettably known as pink slime), and how it was a food technology product that allowed us to use more of the animal – no waste, far more efficient – but that lack of labeling and lazy reporting led to its demonization. We talked about grassfed beef and they knew exactly what it is and what it isn't. They understood efficiency and use of our resources in food production. They were fascinating.

I left our conversation with a singular thought: high school students need to take home economics. And schools need to require it. And fund it (though anything related to funding is nothing but an uphill battle in Illinois these days).

Maybe the real question is this: what price do we put on knowledgeable food consumers? 

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