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1st Course Whets Appetites

CHERYL TEVIS 03/05/2012 @ 12:40pm Cheryl has been an editor at Successful Farming since 1979.

Cooperative Extension set out in the early 1900s to teach women on farms how to use domestic science to improve their lives and the nutrition of their families. By the mid-1960s, many had declared the mission accomplished. 

But not so fast. Decades later, few would deny that prepackaged convenience foods, microwaves, and hectic lifestyles have contributed to the decline of culinary skills.

Is there a renewed role for Extension to help in an era when: 

1. Less disposable income means more meals eaten at home.
2. Greater emphasis is placed on healthy food to reduce chronic disease.

Some Extension leaders think so. “We decided the Culinary Cookshop would help youth learn how to prepare a healthy meal,” says Natalie Hedlund, Boone County (Iowa) 4-H youth coordinator. “Many young people today aren’t making healthy food choices, which leads to obesity and other diseases.”

Iowa State University (ISU) students opened their food lab to the 4-Hers who learned safe use of kitchen equipment, food preparation skills, food safety procedures at home, and the information available on nutrition labels.

Matthew Kordick, a fifth grader at Boone Middle School and a member of the Montana Miners 4-H Club, attended the Culinary Cookshop. Making pasta and using an 8-inch chef’s knife were new experiences for him.

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