Are we living in a fast food nation?
Not so much according to the families in a UBC study.
“I was somewhat surprised,” admits Dean Simmons, an MSc student in the Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems program.
“I was expecting to see families relying on, or even preferring convenience, restaurant and take-out foods. Instead, I found most of the families make homemade meals most of the time,” says Simmons whose former jobs include Health Canada nutritionist for First Nations communities in the north and apprentice chef at Calgary’s Fairmont Palliser Hotel.
For his master’s thesis, Simmons looked at the relationships between how families perceive their cooking skills and the kind of foods they eat. He also explored how parents and teens learn to cook, using data from 11 rural families in the Kent District near Agassiz and 11 urban families in East Vancouver’s Commercial Drive neighbourhood. The project is part of a larger study led by Assoc. Prof. Gwen Chapman investigating family food practices in 10 Canadian communities.
Simmons says preliminary fi ndings suggest that many parents continue to value home cooking despite widespread media stories about culinary “deskilling.” Moreover, parents appear to be passing on those cooking skills.
“Mothers, especially, are an important source of cooking knowledge for teens. But most of the teens’ learning is happening through watching. It’s more of a passive process.”
And not surprisingly, says Simmons, teens show the most interest in gaining cooking skills when they’re about ready to leave home.