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The concern with low levels of cooking skills among the British population can be traced back to the 1780s coinciding with the start of urbanisation of the English rural classes. Modern concerns with the lack of cooking skills, since the 1980s, have focused on the links to healthy food choice and preparation. This has resulted in a number of initiatives but little policy development to support cooking in any structured way. Cooking was de-facto removed from the educational experience in schools in England and Wales. After much intensive lobbying the Labour government promised to introduce practical cooking classes for all 11-14 year olds. The current Coalition government are currently reviewing the school curriculum and the commitment to cooking has been withdrawn. This article documents some of the activity since the 1980s, the approaches used by campaigners to get practical cooking back into schools and/or on the curriculum. Parallel to these developments were activities to teach cooking to adults in community settings. A key argument to be presented will be that the growth of activity by civic society organisations and celebrity chefs has allowed the state to pull back from doing much as there is apparently no problem!

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Jun 5th, 11:30 AM Jun 5th, 1:00 AM

Cooking in Crisis: Lessons from the UK.

The concern with low levels of cooking skills among the British population can be traced back to the 1780s coinciding with the start of urbanisation of the English rural classes. Modern concerns with the lack of cooking skills, since the 1980s, have focused on the links to healthy food choice and preparation. This has resulted in a number of initiatives but little policy development to support cooking in any structured way. Cooking was de-facto removed from the educational experience in schools in England and Wales. After much intensive lobbying the Labour government promised to introduce practical cooking classes for all 11-14 year olds. The current Coalition government are currently reviewing the school curriculum and the commitment to cooking has been withdrawn. This article documents some of the activity since the 1980s, the approaches used by campaigners to get practical cooking back into schools and/or on the curriculum. Parallel to these developments were activities to teach cooking to adults in community settings. A key argument to be presented will be that the growth of activity by civic society organisations and celebrity chefs has allowed the state to pull back from doing much as there is apparently no problem!