With Fathers' Day coming up here in Canada this Sunday, June 17th, we here at FBC, thanks to a timely contest from Fiesta Farms in Toronto, thought it would be nice to put the spotlight on dads a little and reflect a little on how dads' roles have changed in the kitchen in recent times.

Men in the kitchen - a slow but steady role shift

Historically, fathers have been seen to take a back seat when it comes to caring for and feeding their families but Recent studies show these roles are changing. An ever-increasing amount of men are moving from bringing home the “proverbial” bacon, to grocery shopping and cooking up the bacon for their families to eat.  In 1986, Stats Can reported that 40% of men aged 25-54 were involved in household work like meal prep/cooking, post-meal clean-up and laundry. By 2005, that number jumped to 59%. In the 70s, 1 in every 100 stay-at-home parents was a father. Today, that figure is 1 in every 8.

Brock University Sociology Professor Andrea Doucet sees this as a positive shift: “It helps the entire family when dad is an involved dad. What we have seen in the last decade is that when men take the time to be with children, to be in the position to care for those children, they can be as nurturing, and as responsive as women are.” Doucet’s work has shown that over the last thirty years a lot has changed in our family structures. With more women pursuing careers, dual income families are realigning their priorities and re-examining their roles.

Dads: shopping and cooking more and more

Father and grandfather Phil Renzoni is the primary shopper in his household and also cooks for the family. “I shop 60% of the time because I quite enjoy food shopping. Definitely more men are cooking for their families and as a result I think male kids see themselves as potential home cooks and girls grow up with different expectations.”

Fathers like Colombian-born Hussein Silva, a Community Development Worker at Toronto’s The Stop, shares cooking and shopping responsibilities with his wife. For him, cooking for and with his children is about teaching them life skills that will serve them well, “Food is part of every human’s life and the tools to make something simple like a rice or salad - is like teaching a child to swim or dance. I don’t teach them to dance to become great dancers - I teach them because it allows them to integrate themselves into society more fully.”

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Fiesta Farms (Toronto) grocery store owner Joe Virgona has noted that “Almost half of the shoppers we get in the store these days are men. I can tell you it wasn’t that way 25 years ago when women were basically doing all of the shopping! That is why we’ve decided to use Father’s Day as a chance to pay homage to Toronto dads and granddads who are rewriting how this is done.”

Virgona is referring to the store’s Apron Strings Project, an online portal featuring videos, stories and recipes passed down through generations. In the past, the videos featured mothers and grandmothers, but this year, the focus is on a range of fathers and grandfathers from different cultural backgrounds. Silva and Renzoni are two of the five men who cook with their family in the videos, giving us a glimpse into what it means to them to create food together.  The videos will be featured on the Apron Strings website: www.fiestafarms.ca/apronstrings.

Paying tribute to dad through food memories

To this end, Fiesta Farms is inviting members of the public to submit their favourite memory, story and/or recipe about their father or grandfather in the kitchen and is looking for submissions about the worst or best meal/dish they’ve ever made. All submissions will be featured on site and 3 winners will be chosen from these to receive a Fiesta Farms gift certificate.  So go on, make his day - tell us about your dad's cooking!

Contest runs through the end of June.

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