Too few cooks as mammies 'fail to pass on their skills'

Mothers are no longer handing down cooking skills to their children, according to a new study.

The research also found that the culture of children cooking in the kitchen has vastly changed in the fast-paced 21st century society where two parents tend to work.

‘Modern Transference of Domestic Cooking Skills’, which has just been published in ‘Nutrients’ journal, studied 141 mothers from both sides of the Border.

“Opportunities for children to learn basic and fundamental skills are currently lacking which may have detrimental effects on their diet quality,” said the authors.

“The findings indicate the culture of children being in the kitchen has vastly changed, and opportunities for children to learn basic and fundamental food-related skills are not present in the current climate.”

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, St Angela’s College in Sligo, Ulster University and City University of London carried out the study of modern cooking skills with eight groups of mothers in Sligo and eights groups of mothers in Coleraine.

The study found most participants said they were expected to help with the dinner during their childhood and some even remembered cooking entire meals.

“This is a sharp contrast to current practices where only two mothers of the 141 involved in the focus groups mentioned their older children helping with everyday meal preparation,” the authors said.

“The culture of children helping in the kitchen and ‘doing jobs’ in the kitchen is a rarity.”

Mothers involved in the research were aged 20-39, were employed and unemployed, were responsible for the main meal preparation at least three times a week and had at least one child.

The study, supported by work funded by Safefood, states the mother has been consistently identified as the primary source for learning cooking skills.

“The possession and application of cooking skills can have numerous health benefits, including a greater diet quality, weight control, and even longevity of life,” it added.

The authors noted that the research suggests adolescents who are involved in home meal preparation have a higher diet quality than their non-food preparing counterparts.

The participants were recruited to partake in a “cooking from scratch” experiment, with an immediate follow- up focus group in a room adjacent to the kitchens for a discussion.

In the study, just under half of the mothers (48pc) said they used mostly pre-prepared ingredients with a few fresh elements, while 41pc used mostly fresh, basic or raw ingredients, with some pre-prepared ingredients.

Just 6pc of those interviewed used only fresh, basic or raw ingredients.

Researchers found 4pc ate in restaurants every day, 4pc dined outside the home four to six times a week, while 44pc ate in takeaways or restaurants once a week.

They also found that in every focus group, mothers claimed their children dictate what type of food is prepared by being fussy eaters or liking different textures or how food is eaten.

In making multiple dinners to avoid arguments, tantrums or revolt, the study found some mothers revealed they resorted to the use of convenience products.

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