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Cooking Classes should be a requirement in education (OP-ED) 

With how prevalent food is within American culture, why isn’t cooking universally taught in schools? For many Americans, cooking is an important life skill.

According to a 2023 study by the the National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA), 64% of Americans cook at home, with 81% of residents making more than half their meals themselves. The increased prevalence of cooking is a byproduct of the pandemic and the already existing DIY culture within the USA, according to the study. Regardless, World Cooking Index ranks the United States at 72 on its Average cooking frequency list.

However, the interest in cooking isn’t likely to die down anytime soon, but that hasn’t stopped plenty of mishaps within kitchens, where the basics in cooking are lacking for many U.S. citizens.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, when testing a select group of U.S. citizens on food safety in the kitchen, 44% of participants didn’t wash their hands before starting cooking. An additional 83% of participants weren’t seen washing their hands after either cracking eggs or touching raw food items like sausage and fruit.

Cooking isn’t just about learning different ways to make food tasty; it’s a necessary method that helps people prepare food safely without the threat of cross-contamination. However, preventing food-borne diseases isn’t the only reason cooking should be taught. Cooking is a lifelong skill that has social, practical, and cultural significance. Additionally, learning how to properly cook can curb the need to rely on processed foods, which are increasingly being linked to deadly illnesses like cancer and hypertension.

It should be a no-brainer for cooking to be a required subject in education, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. While cooking classes aren’t uncommon in American schools, since the subject is a home skill, most people leave cooking education to be taught at home by parents.

Unfortunately, not every parent can teach their children properly. While that problem could be solved by a change in the schedules of working Americans, the immediate solution could come from public education.

Requiring cooking lessons for the school curriculum won’t only give children a helpful insight into where their food comes from, but according to NPR, cooking lessons can help kids and their families with self-reliance and learn how fresh ingredients improve physical and mental health. 

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