It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to [email protected] and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.

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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Should we start teaching kids how to cook in elementary school?

Loved the article on teaching cooking as part of wellness. Great idea. My question is - Are we starting too late? By the time kids are in college their eating habits are pretty ingrained. Although I am sure it will benefit many people, I was wondering what you thought about starting this way earlier.

It seems to me it would be a great program for elementary schools. The sooner the better. Is anyone doing this now?

I am forever grateful for your site. Thank you for doing such a magnificent job.

Dr. Gourmet Says...

a child with long dark hair stands proudly next to the pizza she made in cooking class

I love your question, and while it is not the sort of question I usually answer for the Ask Dr. Gourmet column, I certainly want to address it.

My belief is that it is never too early or too late to start. We have great research that shows even making lifestyle changes into your 70s can make a huge difference. So can making changes in young adulthood. My opinion is that we have a challenge to create the curriculum for our students at every level - elementary school, high school, college or graduate school. It used to be that this sort of teaching would be done in home economics, Girl Scouts, or even Boy Scouts, but now that those cooking programs are largely gone we have many young adults that simply don't know how to cook. Consequently, we have to recreate ways to best teach that information.

This is being done across the country in elementary schools, and a great example is the Edible Schoolyard. Here's the link for that program here in New Orleans - - and for the national program -

These programs integrate both growing food and teaching kids how to cook. The movement is growing and can serve as a model for us going forward.

Many people are working on this issue across the country and I hope to soon see a generation of kids who can cook and want to.

Thanks for your very nice words about the Dr. Gourmet site. It means a lot to us.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet