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History of the Kitchen

The Housing Hour March 25, 2013

Mortgage Investors Group has recently announced that they are partnering with The Ten City Challenge starting on March 18, 2013!  “MIG is a family, and we want our family to have the tools they need to be healthy and happy in their lives.  The Ten City Challenge is going to empower us to begin that journey,” stated Chrissi Rhea, President of MIG, at the Invest Well, Live Stronger kickoff event.

Why the challenge?

Tennessee is the 4th fattest state in the country with 31.9% of its population obese. The other top 9 states are Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Arkansas and Michigan. There are many reasons for obesity; a quick Google search pulls up things like idle lifestyles, environmental, cultural, genealogical, medical, emotional, age…..the list continues to grow.

The Housing Hour would like to add another reason to the lengthy list: The Kitchen. A subtle but significant change has occurred over the last 150 years or so, in the construction styles and technological advances in the kitchen.
A little history first.

basement kitchenBasement Kitchen
The Kitchen has fully evolved over the last 150 years. The Industrial Revolution changed how and where we live. Americans moved from rural farm lands into large populated cities. The kitchen was typically located in the basement among city dwellers. The hot summer days made it necessary for the cooking fires to be located in an area that tended to be cooler. This also helped protect the family from the choking conditions of the smoke from cooking.

In rural areas, acreage created an opportunity that city dwellers did not have; an entirely separate building for the kitchen. Kitchen fires were just as prevalent as they are today, but firefighting techniques were primitive compared to present day. The security of having a separate building for cooking helped keep families safe.

However, fires were not the only dangerous aspect in kitchens of the past. Spoiled food and poor storage practices caused illnesses such as botulism. As we entered into the modern era of cooking, significant technological inventions made cooking easier and safer.

By the late 1800’s, gas stoves allowed the kitchen to be moved into the main living areas of homes. The threat of an open flame was still real, but control knobs made it much safer.By 1920, electric stoves began sweeping across the country with close to 60% of the homes owning one. The electric oven and newly invented refrigerators revolutionized how we prepared, cooked and stored food.

1920's Gas Stove1920’s Gas Stove
By the 1940’s, kitchens began to be a focal point and emerged as carefully designed centers of  homes. The kitchen became the meeting place for families as activities, of all types, occurred around the kitchen table.

1940's kitchen1940’s Kitchen
Today, the main expense of construction is the kitchen. The modern home invests a lot of attention to practical, stylish and comfortable designs making the perfect kitchen that reflects the owner’s interests and personality.

Today’s Style kitchen
Furthermore, in the last 10 years, kitchens have started to flow into outdoor living areas. This has led to to the creation of elaborate patios and decks featuring luxuriant and functional kitchen designs.

Love for food, fun and family bonding, has made The Kitchen, the number one place to congregate in the home.

So it is easy to see that the availability of fresh food, ease of preparation and the proximity to the family, makes constant eating (or grazing) convenient and always accessible. Therefore, it is necessary to add ‘The Kitchen’ to the bulging list of obesity causes.

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