I decided to take a break yesterday and mom had Food Network on. I sat and watched the season premiere of Worst Cooks In America. Part of me wanted to laugh at the contestants, but really, it’s the kind of thing that makes any reasonable person sad.
One person asked “How do you drain rice?” Another didn’t know that you peel an onion before chopping it. One thought corned beef was better than ground beef because it “has a vegetable in it.” Another didn’t know the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. One tried to “make chocolate” by mixing vanilla and brown sugar. Someone thought it was possible to cook expired foods enough to be safe for eating.
I watched in disbelief. How can people make it to adulthood and be this ignorant about basic cooking and food? How is it possible that they don’t understand even the simplest things about measuring and food preparation? These people were so bad that I started to feel like it had to be staged, because it was too hard for me to believe that people could have this little knowledge about food and how to prepare it.
I wasn’t taught to cook when I was young, but I watched others do it. When I got out on my own at 18 I had to learn to feed myself and my husband, and I learned to cook. It wasn’t rocket science. Sure, I started with instant foods in the beginning, but I quickly learned more and now I can make wonderful meals from all fresh ingredients and even create my own original recipes. It baffles me when I hear of people who can’t even make instant macaroni and cheese properly.
This kind of ignorance about food and cooking has to be part of why people are making unhealthy food choices and becoming obese. If you don’t know how to cook and you don’t understand anything about food, you’re going to eat whatever you can put in the microwave, or you’re going to eat take out and fast food. That’s not healthy and of course it’s going to lead to problems.
What gets me is that the public is trying to ban what they deem to be unhealthy foods and complaining about the health and obesity issues, but they’re not lifting a finger to help people be better educated about food and cooking. Knowledge, or lack thereof, is almost always at the root of any problem. If people were being taught about food and cooking, they’d have the knowledge to make better choices.
This is one of the reasons I find it insane that Home Ec classes have been tossed out of most schools. Parents obviously aren’t doing their job by teaching their sons and daughters about cooking, Home Ec was one of the only ways some kids ever learned. I think that some sort of cooking class should be required for all students in all schools, combined with food education.
When it comes to adults I think everyone needs to realize that eating well and cooking at home is important, and they need to learn how to do these things. There’s really no excuse for it. There are plenty of busy, career-oriented people in the world who eat healthy and cook from scratch, so no one can use that as an excuse. If you’re smart, it’s not more expensive than eating junk either. There’s really no legitimate excuse for anyone not knowing at least a handful of basic cooking facts and recipes.