If I can get socks for $3.50 a dozen why would I knit one? Cans of tomatoes are 98 cents, so who in the world would pick and jar her own? Why would I sew something I could just buy for a couple bucks cash and a lot less hassle? Who even talks about Home Economics these days anyway?
Maybe “Home Economics” brings to mind an image of 1950’s girls in classrooms learning to bake bread and honing their husband-catching skills. Maybe it makes you think of girls in the 1970s learning to sew their own pantsuits and perfecting casseroles made with cream-of-something soup. You’re right; those are images of what Home Economics can be, but that’s not all there is to it. Home Ec is not just for the ladies. My dad was the first male student to take a Home Economics class in his high school and he had to stand up for the right to do so. My husband is a chef and culinary artist. Home Ec is for everyone who wants to live well and make the most of the resources available to them.
Economics is the study of how we deal with scarcity, so Home Economics is the study of how we deal with scarcity in the home or family unit. Very few people have limitless resources to allocate without having to prioritize and make some decisions. Home Economics is how we decide what to buy and what to leave on the shelf. It’s how we decide where to source the food we feed our families; it is how we select a contractor or home service provider to work on our home. It is frugality, making the best with what you have, saving money and spending wisely. Home Economics is all that other stuff you imagined too: laundry, cooking, cleaning, sewing, knitting and crafts. Yeah, you can buy an apron for $15 but, for the same $15 you can buy fabric and a pattern and customize your experience. That apron could be a perfect personalized gift. That’s part of Home Ec too, by the way – thoughtful gifting, good manners and remembering to send your favorite auntie a birthday card.
Home Economics at its most basic level is taking care of your house and family. By extension it is caring for your community, your country and the Earth. Home Economics at its very best and most altruistic is taking care of and loving your planet and your fellow humans. I call that Sustainable Home Economics and it’s my favorite. I’m looking forward to some throwback Home Ec lessons – home canning! – and talking about things like finding great deals and selecting sustainable options where they make sense for a family’s needs. What are some of your ideas about Sustainable Home Economics? Do you have any smart, sustainable tips to share?