By Mary V. Carver, P.H.Ec
As a Professional Home Economist, I support the need for mandatory Family Studies courses in Ontario elementary and high schools.
Current Ontario Family Studies (FS) education morphed from curriculum once known as Home Economics. Lessons are well-designed to nurture individual and family development through food, nutrition, parenting, financial literacy, fashion, and consumer education courses. Such deeply empowering lessons help students to become strong, healthy, independent contributing members of society. Students who receive credits in FS are better prepared to leave home, manage personal finances, eat nutritionally (and economically) and in time make wise consumer choices for their own families.
As a parent and former teacher, I wonder if we have become so focused on getting students ready for college or university, that we forget to prepare them for life.
Most people agree that everyone needs basic household management, cooking skills and nutrition knowledge – the core values of ‘Home Economics,’ why then, is the subject not given higher priority?
No Family Studies course is mandatory in Ontario. FS courses are mere electives. Therefore, only a small percentage of students benefit from this excellent curriculum.
Each day, we see evidence of a lack of essential life skills. An increase in childhood and adult obesity rates are primary examples. Sadly, almost a third of Canadians aged 5 to 17 are overweight or obese, according to Statistics Canada. We’re told that prevention is much less expensive than treatment. Should teachers not put the tools of obesity prevention in the hands of students by teaching them the fundamentals of healthy eating and how to cook?
Currently there are over 1 million university and college students in Canada; their lack of knowledge about food and nutrition creates a significant risk and cost to public health care.
Increasing rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes can be a result of poor eating/lifestyle habits. Mandatory FS courses in Ontario schools would help to reduce the prevalence of many health-related issues while preparing the next generation of parents for the responsibilities they face.
Over time the definition of ‘family’ as evolved. Eating habits and lifestyles have changed. Spending habits and debt carried by families have become major concerns. Families do not exist in isolation but are greatly influenced by what is going on in the world. FS curriculum must reflect that reality.
Updated and approved Ontario FS curriculum is ready to be implemented in September 2013, however, FS teachers have yet to receive expectations and guidelines from the Ministry of Education. The wait is frustrating to teachers and discouraging for students who have now waited several years for this transition.
I fully support comments by Mark Wales, President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture urging Ontario ‘to bring back Home Economics in high schools,’ (Metro and The Toronto Star newspapers, April, 24, 2013.)
But why wait until high school to teach healthful eating? There appears to be a huge disconnect between people and the food they eat. There is a need for greater public awareness and consumer information around all aspects of food and nutrition and much of the learning could start in elementary schools.
Today, culinary skills are rarely taught in the home. Are parents too busy or have they lost the skill? Looking at the statistics, I see that almost an entire generation has graduated from high school with few practical home-making skills. Processed and fast foods have replaced many home-cooked meals. Basic food preparation skills and the ability to prepare healthful meals from scratch incorporating Ontario ingredients are fundamental to the health of our youth and to local agriculture.
The Ontario Home Economics Association offers tips to help people make wise food choices, prepare nutritious and safe food, balance budgets and cope with a whole host of challenges of busy everyday life.
I am committed to prioritizing and implementing mandatory Family Studies curriculum in Ontario. I look forward to working with others to help secure a healthy future for our youth.
Ontario Home Economics Association © 2013
by Michelle J. Kwan, BFA, BASc Candidate
While the increased use of technology in the workplace may have significantly boosted office efficiency, it has inadvertently decreased national physical activity levels.
According to the 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) completed by Statistics Canada, only 15% of Canadians meet the physical activity guidelines. Based on results of the fitness tests, ‘Canadian adults face health risks due to suboptimal fitness levels’, the study concluded. Sadly, it appears that the majority of Canadians spend most of their waking hours in sedentary pursuits.
Research suggests that the combination of zero physical activity and high screen time results in the greatest negative impact on health and quality of life. A sedentary lifestyle, which includes sitting, using a computer, and/or watching television for much of the day with little or no vigorous exercise is associated with increased risk of premature death, hypertension, coronary heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends that adults aged 18-64 years accumulate 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Moderate physical activity includes brisk walking or bike riding, while more vigorous activities, that cause adults to sweat and be out-of-breath, include jogging or cross-country skiing.
Many Canadians face the on-going challenge of incorporating the recommended physical activity into their daily routine. Small changes can go a long way.
Tips to Help You Get More Physical Activity
For reliable information, click here to visit The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.
Michelle J. Kwan is a 4th year Nutrition student at Ryerson University. This article won 1st place in the Ontario Home Economics Association Student Media Release Competition, in March 2013. Soon-to-be a graduate of Ryerson’s Nutrition and Food program, the author, a former Miss Universe Canada 2011 delegate and fitness enthusiast, is passionate about sharing credible health information. Follow Michelle on Twitter @NutritionArtist. Kwan is a member of OHEA - a self-regulated body of Professional Home Economists that promotes high professional standards among its members so that they may assist families and individuals to achieve and maintain a desirable quality of life.
OHEA congratulates Michelle and encourages her continued voice on health related issues.
For further information, contact: Ontario Home Economics Association, 14 Totten Place, Woodstock, ON N4S 8G7 Website: www.ohea.on.ca Phone: 519-290-1843 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ontario Home Economics Association © 2013
Thank you to Ontariofresh.ca for sharing their post
10 Reasons to Buy Local.
By: Madeline Ritchie, Program Assistant 1) Locally grown food tastes and looks better. There is no comparing tomatoes that ripened on the vine two days before with tomatoes that ripened in a truck a week earlier.
2) Local food is often better for you. The shorter the time between the farm and your table, the less likely it is that nutrients will be lost from fresh food.
3) Local food supports local families and neighbouring businesses. The agri-food sector is a huge economic driver in the province and supporting those who play into this sector helps keep our whole economy strong.
4) Local food builds our sense of community. When you buy directly from a local producer, you're helping maintain the age-old connection between eater and grower.
5) Local food provides employment in the agri-food sector – the more we grow, process, and pack here, the more people we need for it!
6) Supporting local food helps to preserve Ontario’s vibrant and rich open spaces. When food producers make a good profit for their products by marketing locally, they're less likely to sell farmland for development. This land has many benefits for our health and environment, by sustaining vital ecosystems, natural heritage, and wildlife.
Pst: We in Ontario are fortunate enough to have the Greenbelt to preserve prime farmland and green spaces, so that everyone can enjoy clean air, water, soil, and food!
7) When managed properly, local food systems use less fuel and energy when delivered to you. Developing more sustainable market systems helps us minimize the impacts of climate change as a team!
8) Local food is an investment in the future. By supporting local farmers today, you are helping to ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow.
9) Local food is a smart business move. Consumers and chefs are demanding more and more local food, so marketing your business as a ‘local food business’ makes you more attractive to your clients.
Don’t believe us? Then don’t just take our word for it, we’ll leave it to the food trend experts.
10) With prime agricultural land across Ontario (including the Greenbelt’s Holland Marsh, the Niagara Region, the many greenhouses across the province, and the rest of the 5 million hectares of farms), and innovative food processors, Ontario has some of the best food anyway. Why would you choose anything else?
The Ontario Home Economics Association, a self-regulating body of professional Home Economists, promotes high professional standards among its members so that they may assist families and individuals to achieve and maintain a desirable quality of life.