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Majority still prefer home cooked meals for health reasons

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Toronto,  (IANS) The vast majority of people still prefer home cooked meals rather than eating outside for health and other reasons, says a new study.

Dean Simmons, recent graduate of University of British Columbia (UBC), focused on the practice and significance of domestic cooking to families.

Simmons says that when he surveyed families about their cooking habits, he was surprised to find that the vast majority of families were cooking at home on a regular basis.

'I expected them to be more about take-out and eating out,' he says. When he asked why they were cooking at home, Simmons says three themes emerged.

Adults, he says, like home cooking because it allows them to exercise control over what the family is eating.

'It allowed them to exclude certain foods they didn't want -- people talked about not having preservatives and junk foods.'

Control also extended to money, since by eating in, the families were able to stretch their food dollars.

A second theme was connectedness. Simmons says people told him that cooking makes home a place where people want to gather. Without the family meal, family life would be disjointed.

Simmons says people also use home cooking as a way to connect to their heritage, with immigrants in particular wanting to enjoy the foods of their homeland.

Others just want to eat food like mom used to make -- although Simmons says some respondents were adamant that mom was a bad cook and told him they liked home cooking because it was better than mom's.

The final theme relates to life skills, says Simmons. 'Nearly every teen I spoke to said learning to cook was important for when they moved out of the house. And this included teens who didn't like cooking.'

And when people talk about home cooking, he adds, they generally refer to the evening meal. But if families are cooking together, Simmons says plenty about cooking has changed.

Though women still do the lion's share of cooking, it's increasingly becoming a shared task, and teens are less likely to see cooking as a gender-specific activity.

Simmons says that if we continue to cook -- and to value cooking -- it's because the whole thing is about more than just eating, said an UBC release.

He will present the results at the 2010 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences taking place at Montreal's Concordia University

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