You know what’s ironic about me writing on the subject of Home Economics? It was the one class in school that I I didn’t take seriously. I was a nerd, a straight A student. I never slacked off or goofed around. I cried when I missed school. I took it all so seriously. It was just my nature. But Home Ec? As a proud feminist, I thought Home Ec was an insult to women. Give me geometry, chemistry, and biology. Save the cooking classes for someone else.
Fast forward to today and I now see the error of my ways. It turns out that the discipline of home economics was rooted in feminist thinking. The intent was to bring scientific process into the home environment and educate women on the efficient running of a home. It coincided with the initiative to teach men agriculture practices in the US in the lead up to the industrial revolution. This two-pronged approach, teaching women how to run a home and teaching men how to grow food, were vital for survival and the evolution of society. It wasn’t really until the 50s that this “fad” started to fade and we entered into the era of convenience.
Why the name Oekologee? The Home Ec movement was started by a woman named Ellen Swallow Richards. She was the first woman to attend MIT. She was a bad ass chemist who studied and advocated for clean air and drinking water. She wanted to teach other women how to apply science to the management of a home. Ellen Richards coined the word “oekology”, which we now spell “ecology”. Oekology, in her words, is the science of right living or healthy and happy homes. It was from Oekology that Ellen Richards developed the concept of Home Economics in 1898 to cover subjects including nutrition, economics, sanitation, and overall efficiency in domestic science topics. So the name Oekologee was fitting for this self-declared feminist who was once too good for the simple study of Home Economics.
Over the last five decades or so, we’ve lost our way in the space of right living. So many of us no longer know how to prepare a simple, nutritious meal or how to stock a pantry so that you might make that meal with what you have on hand. We no longer understand the simplicity of made from scratch. We want the store bought convenience of chemical laden cleaning products without considering the health implications of the toxic ingredients. We believe there’s a get rich quick trick that will solve all of our financial woes and put us on the path to wealth, or at least relieve us from our paycheck to paycheck lifestyle.
I’m here to tell you the solutions to today’s modern problems are the simplest solutions. Sure, it may seem daunting to make your own pizza dough or build up a stash of the green dough over time but both are easily achievable with some basic knowledge. I believe we, as a society, are capable of taking back the reins of our overspent, overextended, convenience based lifestyles. We can bring back the study of Home Economics to educate our mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters about how to save, how to cook, how to clean healthfully, how to simplify and, at the same time, improve the quality of this life we’re living.
I hope you’ll join me on this journey to a simpler, more enjoyable lifestyle. There’s a lot to learn and I’m here to step you through the most important lessons.