Letter to Farmers Weekly

Further to my letter to the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, yesterday the following letter I wrote was published in Farmers Weekly Magazine.


Letters to the Editor

Farmers Weekly Magazine

Having been honoured by Farmers Weekly Magazine in 2012 as an ambassador for British food, I’m very troubled to read the news about Michael Gove MP bringing cookery back to schools.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s vital that our children learn to cook, however I fear we might as well teach the children a nursery rhyme as teach them cookery in the way we’re proposing to.

I grew up on a farm in Northern Ireland, my dad a farmer and my mum a home economics teacher so ‘farm to the fork’ food is all I have ever known. Home Economics was (and still is in Northern Ireland and Scotland) an inter-curricular academic subject that teaches about food, clothing, housing and finance, not just cookery. Teaching it in this way empowers consumers to make the correct choices for diet and nutrition.

I would applaud any cookery course that teaches how to use a technique, for example ‘rubbing in’ (fat into flour). That way, the student would not only learn how to make a crumble, but also pastry, pizza base, scones and bread. The application of liquids and heat also all play a big part in understanding food and cooking, preventing waste and is all part of Home Economics, even to the point of using leftovers in exciting ways.

I remember at school when studying Home Economics (I studied it right to Masters level) we looked at food preservation, different diets (vegetarian, gluten free etc) and how to cook on a budget.

What we don’t need now are recipes that take three hours to follow, or ones for Sushi or salmon cooked in paper. These are ‘chef’ not ‘home’ recipes – all very well if we’re educating children for careers as chefs but not for providing vital everyday life skills for all.

The old study of home economics (formerly domestic science) needs to change and modernise, but the basic principles have been lost on two generations and should not be thrown out. This subject is inter-curricular and much more than teaching children how to make cupcakes with decorative icing.

Ti help British farming, to stop issues like the horsemeat scandal from reoccurring, home economics in the curriculum would be of vital importance. Just think of the informed choices children could then make about their finances, food purchases, nutrition, sustainability and ability to be informed citizens.

I would argue we as a nation are too reliant from a consumer point of view on the retailers. I believe we should all be equipped to have the knowledge to want to buy British produce, our health, our economy and decision.

Lets empower our future generations with an understanding of the British food system. Teach them home economics.

Kind regards

James McIntosh MA, MICSc, FRSA, MIACP

One thought on “Letter to Farmers Weekly

  1. Pingback: Food in Schools, an update | James McIntosh's Blog

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