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Millennials Can't Cook and Don't Care Who Knows It

A study recently published in the Journal of Public Health examined the culinary prowess—or lack thereof—of British teens. The results? Not good. But are the kids worried? Hell no, old man.

Pull up your tube socks and buckle your seatbelts, folks. Here comes the kind of soft-boiled news that will shock absolutely nobody--although it will likely give Zelda, that creepy old spinster you live next to, endless material to rail about the youth these days.

A study recently published in the Journal of Public Health examined the culinary prowess—or lack thereof—of British teens. The study was published as part of a joint effort by Newcastle, Lancaster, and Durham Universities and set out to question a group of students aged 16 to 20 about their relationship to and attitudes surrounding food and cooking.


The results? Not good. The brave researchers would like us to heed their warning!

Kids—shocker—can't cook for shit.

But are the kids worried? Hell no, old man. Because they're an active lot—and there's such thing as unisex pregnancy pants, so it's all good.

This study is like shouting from the rooftops that soggy potato chips bite. It's like saying that the noble fanny pack is dead. It's like sending out an APB that, yes, manatees are indeed lettuce-crazed propeller fodder.

That's right, few teens can cook well and they are all too happy to admit it.

But far more amusing were the teens who thought they could cook but were totally deluded as to what that actually means.

In what may be the euphemism of the year, their cooking was described as "jar-based"—you know, opening and heating something from a jar.

Researchers found a popular "home-cooked" meal was cheese on toast. Take a breather, mirepoix.

And next time your chef boss asks you to finish your mise en place, take the saltines out of their wrapper and look at the bastard smugly, like the millennial BAMF you are.

Microwaving was also popular. "Just hoy [throw] it in the microwave when you get home," said one young woman. Chef's Table would have been infinitely better if they'd thrown in some of these baby British gourmands.

And just like always, fast food reigned supreme. In case you thought American youth were alone in unhealthy eating, how about this: "pasties, sausage rolls, and iced buns" were all very popular choices among the study's participants.


The researchers smarmily go on, with thinly veiled disgust, "McDonald's was considered to be healthy by one participant because it served salads."

Most alarming of all, though? "They are also not worried about their health, believing that exercising will compensate for a poor diet and smoking," according to the study.

OK, so unless you are on this bright, blue marble with the sole purpose of studying its inhabitants, this study probably won't come as a shock to you—but it still doesn't portend well for the youth of Britain.

Recent studies show that, in fact, what you eat may be far more important than exercise, at least as far as your weight goes. According to a review of studies done by The New York Times' The Upshot, "when it comes to reaching a healthy weight, what you don't eat is much, much more important" than exercise.

The reason for this is that it's so easy to consume calories, and so hard to burn them off through activity. Half an hour of BASEketball? Maybe 150 calories. Frantically biking through the neighborhood as a pack of frothing Rottweilers draws ever closer? Two hundred if you're lucky. Trying to get a few laps in at a theoretical lap pool? Let's say 350 just for the mental strain of dealing with the imaginary YMCA changing room, alone.

And the average calorie count for a meal? No shit: a lot more than you think.

People routinely underestimate their calorie consumption; what's more, the average calorie purchase at chain restaurants is almost 900. Have fun trying to exercise that off without replacing your desk with a Stairmaster.

Which is why cooking is oh-so-important.

The British researchers' conclusion is this: ""Young people lack confidence and skills in the kitchen, with many considering microwaving a pizza to be cooking."

Their advice? A warning, a grim warning that should be heeded, stat: "The behavioural norms around food behaviours merit further exploration for this population in transition between adolescence and adulthood."

Good advice. I'll get the National Institutes of Health right on that as soon as I fund a study delving into how pointless studies are funded.