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The practice and significance of domestic cooking : insights from families in British Columbia

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Title: The practice and significance of domestic cooking : insights from families in British Columbia
Author: Simmons, Dean
Degree Master of Science - MSc
Program Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems
Copyright Date: 2010
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2010-04-13
Abstract: Does domestic cooking still matter in an era where pre-prepared meals and convenience foods are readily available and relatively affordable for the majority of the population? Should we be concerned by alarms of culinary deskilling raised in the media? This thesis addresses these questions by investigating the practice and significance of domestic cooking and cooking skills for participant families in the province of British Columbia in Canada. The study design was qualitative. A small sample of 22 families was recruited, where at least one adult and one teen were interviewed in each family. A maximum of diversity was sought within the sample, and families were selected from across the income gradient, with half living in an urban community (northeast Vancouver) and the other half living in a rural area (District of Kent). Each participant was involved in two semi-structured interviews including two photo elicitation activities. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were then coded using Atlas.ti qualitative data analysis software. The research findings provide insight into how much cooking was happening in participants’ homes, who was doing the cooking, and how cooking skills were learned and taught. A significant and novel finding was the insight gained on the subjective meaning or significance of being able to cook within families. Participants spoke of home cooking as significant for reasons beyond just nourishing bodies, and in ways that challenge popular concerns about culinary deskilling. The findings support the argument that domestic cooking may be transitioning from a state of ‘having to cook’ to ‘wanting to cook’. As well, the analysis of the findings suggests that the relationship between cooking skills and food practices is indirect. From a public health perspective an argument is made for the significance of basic cooking skills as enabling citizens to follow the dietary guidance in Canada’s Food Guide. These basic cooking skills may best be taught, as part of a multimodal health promotion strategy, at periods of life transition when people are most interested in acquiring and applying cooking skills.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/23468
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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