by Mary Carver, P.H.Ec.
Families today need home economics skills as much as they did a century
ago when Adelaide Hoodless declared
'a nation is only as strong as its homes and families.'
Home economics is an interdisciplinary field of study — the sum of its parts: nutrition, food preparation, consumer education, financial management, clothing and textiles, interior design, child development, relationships and sustainability.
Re-branded as family studies in high schools and as human ecology at universities, course values remain true to home economics roots and central to the well-being of families.
A home economics movement
A growing number of people seek a healthier lifestyle, farmers’ markets, slow-food, improved fitness and better mental health. They read food labels, avoid fad diets, shop local and buy fair trade. They’re socially responsible consumers and are concerned about global food and water security. They respect time-of-day energy use and minimize waste. This is home economics.
However, families are less-healthy and carry more household debt than ever before. Dining out frequently and buying packaged food is costly to our health and budgets.
We are major consumers that appear to manage time and purse strings with difficulty. In December 2013, Statistics Canada reported that Canadians owed $1.64 for every dollar earned.
Common family challenges
A zealous demand for organic food, community gardens, and home canning are indicators that not all families crave fast-food. That said, at least one generation has already grown-up without learning how to cook.
Follow these tips to achieve and maintain
a desirable quality of day-to-day life
Some families romanticize a healthier, back-to-basics lifestyle; others struggle to achieve it, due to a lack of skill or opportunity.
Mandatory food literacy (nutrition and food preparation skills) may help to reduce risks of obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease and unnecessary stress on family finances (read our latest media release here - Food Literacy ~ A Lifelong Commitment)
In 2013, the Ontario Ministry of Education released several ‘new’ family studies courses. Students should check high school option sheets for food and finance choices.
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.