Study claims family dinners are elitist, put unnecessary pressure on mothers

Campus Reform 9 September 2014
A study published by professors at North Carolina State University claims that pressure put on mothers to cook nightly meals is elitist and stressful for working class families.

Published in late August, “The Joy of Cooking” reports the authors’ findings after interviewing 150 mothers from diverse ethnic backgrounds over the past year-and-a-half. The professors also spent time shadowing 12 working-class and poor families.

According to the study, the heightened pressure from influential figures like Michael Pollan and Michelle Obama for families to sit down to healthier, home cooked meals on a nightly basis has become a source of stress for American mothers. The study refers to the message that “good mothers” cook for their families as “unrealistic.”

Authors Sarah Bowen, Sinikka Elliott, and Joslyn Bretton (a professor at Ithaca College) relay a number of anecdotes culled from their body of research. Interviewed women cited time, money, and picky children as obstacles.

“Romantic depictions of cooking assume that everyone has a home, that family members are home eating at the same time, and that kitchens and dining spaces are equipped and safe,” the authors write. “This is not necessarily the case for the families we met.”