Category Archives: personal responsibility

Home Economics for the 21st Century

If my Google Reader inbox today is any indication, there seems to be a movement calling for schools to reinstate Home Economics classes.

This article appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

Bring Back Home Economics Education (pdf file)

I absolutely agree that bringing back a revamped version of Home Ec is a great idea. Now, I suspect Home Ec went away as an understandable reaction to the gender role stereotypes of the 1950’s and ’60s.  There is often a fine line, however, between reaction and over-reaction. Reflexively swinging to the opposite extreme rarely solves a problem. If anything, it creates new problems.

Feminism, as I subscribe to it, is simply a state of independence– being able to take care of yourself, with or without a man. That may be oversimplifying (and probably to some, underestimating) the matter. Nevertheless, “taking care of yourself” without a doubt includes being able to feed and nourish yourself, as well as manage money responsibly. These were the two pillars of traditional home economics.

Even more than before, parents and caregivers today cannot be expected or relied on to teach children how to prepare healthy meals. Many parents never learned to cook and instead rely on restaurants, take-out food, frozen meals, and packaged food as basic fare. Many children seldom experience what a true home-cooked meal tastes like, much less see what goes into preparing it. (Alice H. Lichtenstein and David S. Ludwig)

Am I saying that feminism necessarily means malnourishing yourself and your children? Not at all.  But boasting the inability to cook as some sort of feminist merit badge strikes me as foolish, that’s all.  It is something women should think about, at the very least.

There may be other factors contributing to the widespread inability to cook healthy meals at home. In the absence of home cooking, for example, heavily processed convenience foods have stepped in to fill the void… and to fill stomachs. Far be it for me to suggest some nefarious food industry conspiracy behind this. I’ll just say that for consumerism to work as a way of life (as it has in America for some 60 years), it has been necessary to discourage responsible money management and to encourage poor eating choices.

Just think about the long-term benefits of teaching young people how to live healthy and sustainable lives:

An informed generation of children may also influence the eating habits of US families, just as tobacco education causes some students to discourage their parents from smoking. Ultimately, as this generation of school-aged children and adolescents reaches adulthood, they may serve as positive role models for their children and, through their longterm purchasing habits, ensure healthful food choices are readily available in homes, supermarkets, and restaurants
throughout the country. (Alice H. Lichtenstein and David S. Ludwig)

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Filed under budgeting, consumerism, cooking, food, frugal, menu planning, money, money management, personal responsibility, simplicity

Living well is the best revenge.

I recently engaged in a little Photoshoppery and made a new page header to go with the new blog theme. That’s beautiful Lake Auburn, which is about a mile from my house. If you’re viewing this inside your RSS reader, you won’t be able to see it unless you actually click on the blog link.

“Living well is the best revenge” is the new tagline for this blog. It sounds pretty mercenary, and maybe it is. Yet I find it very empowering right now in my life.

Maybe some of you might relate to the following, and maybe you won’t. I grew up with a lot of conflicting messages that immobilized me in many ways:

You’ll be our little girl forever… Why don’t you grow up?!

We’ll fix it/rescue you/make it all better… You’re much too dependent on us!

Then the old “Give a compliment in one breath, and then take it away in the next”:

You’re smart… but you’re too lazy.

You’re pretty… but you’re too fat.

I had a choice of how to process those messages, and how to live my life accordingly. For most of my life I surrendered to them– “No matter what I do, it won’t be good enough anyway, so why bother?”– and drifted along with no goals, no motivation, no hope.

Years ago, someone told me, “Living well is the best revenge”. I didn’t get it then.

I get it now.

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Filed under frugal, goals, life, personal growth, personal responsibility