When I was in high school, I know we technically had a Home Ec program, but as far as I can remember, its curriculum was largely focused on how to most effectively sell hot links at the student store. It was a bottom-of-the-barrel elective that almost everyone in the school ignored—and I remember always feeling like that was a shame. I'd love to take a cooking class at school! Beyond that, I'd love to learn about the other nuts-and-bolts chores of life: balancing a checkbook, avoiding credit card debt, not mixing ammonia and bleach and inadvertently turning your bathroom into a gas chamber (why do more people not fear this silent killer???). Instead, I played the clarinet for an hour or so every day. Number of times that skill has come in handy in my adult life: negative zero. Number of times I've wished someone taught me how to not fuck up my finances: infinity plus one (coincidentally, that's also the total number of dollars I've paid in overdraft fees).
Torie Bosch in Slate makes a compelling case for why America's kids could benefit from Home Ec:
Rather than training girls to be housewives, home ec today can teach students to cook for themselves after work once they reach adulthood. More immediately, kids can take what they learn and make easy, healthy meals when their parents are too busy working.
...A stronger home-ec curriculum could also rebut the myth that heavily processed foods are cheaper. A recent USDA report concludes that this isn't so. A student who learns four or five easy recipes incorporating healthy, cheap ingredients such as chickpeas can ease the financial and time burden on her parents while helping her family eat better.
What an idea! Instead of shitting on fat people in order to "solve" the "obesity epidemic," why not teach kids—girls and boys, thin and fat and in between—how to budget and shop and cook actual healthy food, so that they don't just live on Burger King and Top Ramen after they graduate from high school? That's the kind of social conditioning that might actually improve the overall health of the nation—and, magically, you don't have to police and shame a single adult human's body.
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