School Of Eating Good - Solving The Cooking From Scratch MysteryTue 22 Oct 2013
Story by Sharon Badian
How many Americans learn how to cook? Use a knife, chop some veggies, and stir fry or sautť? If my experience teaching college students in Colorado is any indication, not many young people learn to cook beyond turning on the oven.
Food TV has increased college studentsí knowledge of food and cooking. They are often aware of hot food trends and ingredients that were unattainable when I went to college. Pomegranates, avocados, and heirloom tomatoes are not unusual to many of them. They know the names of famous international chefs like Giada De Laurentiis and Jamie Oliver. But if they had to cook a meal that didnít involve ready-to-eat and processed ingredients, many would be baffled. Recipes are written in a foreign language and these students have no real kitchen skills. Cooking from scratch is a mystery.
Is learning to cook really that important? The world is facing a nutrition crisis that is unprecedented. People have more to eat and yet their health is failing. Some of the victims of this crisis are young children, dealing with diseases like Type 2 diabetes. Not long ago, Type 2 diabetes was called Adult-Onset diabetes because only adults got it. No more.
How Cooking Fits into the Equation
How does cooking figure into this equation? Processed food is not nutritious food. Thatís really not the point Ė itís supposed to taste so good that you canít possibly resist it, assuring steady profits (and expanding your waistline, unfortunately). Food manufacturers are not concerned with your health; itís not their business. In order to eat healthfully in the current food environment, we need to cook for ourselves. We cannot leave the ďcookingĒ to food scientists in factories or fast food labs.
Donít people learn to cook from TV? There is a whole lot of food TV so you would think more people would cook now. It hasnít played out like that. People who have never cooked lack the confidence to start cooking from a TV show. Do you think that people can learn to play tennis by watching Wimbledon? No, you need to pick up a racket and hit that fuzzy yellow ball over the net. For cooking, you need to get in the kitchen and pick up a knife. And just like in tennis, itís really useful to have a pro (or a parent or teacher) to show you how itís done.
School of Eating Good
I started School of Eating Good to be that cooking pro, giving students the skills and confidence to get in the kitchen. I focus on college students because many college students need to feed themselves for the first time in their lives and lack the skills to accomplish this cost-effectively and healthfully. Living in a college town, I get to see some scary things Ė like the students pushing carts brimming with cheap ramen noodles and nothing else. I teach students that they donít need to depend on ramen and fast food to eat cheaply. The classes last 2 hours. We cook a meal: a simple and delicious main course, a salad or side dish, and a dessert. We cook it together. I coach and they cook. We work on knife skills. We talk about shopping and getting the most for their money. We eat, we laugh, and we have a great time.
Cooking isnít only about improving health. Itís about sharing wonderful things, like food and conversation. Itís about showing how much you love yourself and others by preparing something delicious with your own hands. The classes are about how to enjoy cooking and eating, and sharing those things with others.
My students go home and cook the recipes again. How do I know? They come back for another class and tell me ďI cooked the recipe we made last time for my [mom, boyfriend, roommate] and it was so easy and delicious! Show me more!Ē Once they get going, they are hooked.
About the Author: Sharon Badian is the founder of School of Eating Good Inc., a not-for-profit in Boulder, Colorado. She started cooking with her mom as a child. After getting an advanced degree in mathematics and working as a software engineer, she pitched the techie life for culinary school. Sheís worked in restaurants, a commercial biscotti bakery, and as an organic produce farmer. Now, she shares her cooking skills and her love of all things culinary with students at the University of Colorado. For info on her classes, cooking tips, and recipes visit the School of Eating Good blog.
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