Basic cooking skills are fundamental to the ability prepare and consume healthy, affordable foods. Unfortunately, home cooking has declined in much of the developed world in recent decades. Increased working hours, decline of familial transfer of food practices, and growing prevalence of food delivery and convenience foods are some of the top reasons. Because food eaten outside of the home is typically less nutritious and more closely associated with poor health outcomes, this shift is partly to blame for our rising prevalence of chronic disease.
Some recent studies show promise in that an increasing number of young people, particularly those who are well-educated and white, are cooking. Unfortunately, this doesn’t reflect many minorities and low income Americans who experience the highest rates of diet-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
An increasing number of nonprofits, healthcare institutions, schools, and community centers are seeking to reverse this trend by offering culinary education. For-profit cooking schools are also becoming increasingly popular. Many of these entities aim to promote health and well-being—in addition to community-building, job promotion, or other important societal goals—and are increasingly seeking to evaluate these outcomes and prove their effectiveness.