Foodies? Gen Xers Love to Cook, Even Men

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Generation X is more conscious about their food than earlier generations, a new report suggests. They spend more time cooking, shopping for, watching and reading about food. The men are even more involved than their fathers in the cooking process.

The study is a part of the Longitudinal Study of American Youth, which has studied Generation X, those individuals between 1961 and 1981 (growing up post World War II). They've been collecting survey data on the study's 3,000 participants yearly for the past 24 years.

"These young adults are very active with food," study researchers Jon Miller of the University of Michigan told LiveScience. Even the men of Generation X "are more engaged in shopping and in cooking — we didn't ask who washes the dishes — but they watch cooking shows, they read cooking articles, and they talk to their friends about cooking."

In the kitchen with Gen X

During the spring and winter of 2011, this group filled out a survey specifically based around food — what they eat, when they eat, and who they eat with during their "average week." As a whole, their data said that Gen Xers are reading, watching and prepping more food. They spend more time food shopping and more time cooking.

And it's not just the females that have become food obsessed. Male Gen Xers spend twice as much time cooking as their fathers did, even when they are single. These bachelors are still the most likely to eat fast food, though. Families are even eating more in groups with friends as a social activity, Miller said. [7 Things That Will Make You Happy]

Even so, married women cooked the most, preparing about 12 meals a week, on average, compared with about 10 meals a week for single women, and eight weekly meals for both married and single men.

"What's happening in Generation X is that there's far more two-job families where both jobs are fairly serious jobs," Miller said. In two-job families in previous generations, "one tended to be the dominant job and the other was part-time, often times the person with the part-time job still did most of the childcare and all of the food shopping."

The male-female food split isn't 50-50 yet, but Miller believes it's headed that way. "Our data show that it's still not that even, because it was so far behind to begin with," Miller said. "But, I think that for my grandchildren it will be dead even, it's changing generationally."

Whole Foods anyone?

The Gen Xers were also asked how they felt about organic and genetically modified foods. On a whole, the levels of organic devotees in Generation X seem to be lower than the industry claims, Miller said. Fifty-two percent of Generation X rarely or never buy organic, and about 39 percent will buy organic if it's available and the price is right.

"There's this image that everyone in this generation is queuing up to buy organic foods, but only about 9 percent say they try to buy it all the time," Miller said. [7 Perfect Survival Foods]

Survey answers indicated the group would shun genetically modified foods, though they didn't seem to have a good grasp of the potential implications of modified foods.

For instance, one argument against these foods put forth by Greenpeace is that genetically modified plants would grow faster than wild plants and outcompete them. However, only 44 percent thought it was a possible negative consequence of genetically modified crops.

"That argument has not been as widely understood as I'm sure Greenpeace and other people who have been pushing it hoped," Miller said. "I think that the farming and the plants are just a little bit away from the day-to-day lives of young people today."

This information was published as a part of the latest quarterly Generation X Report.

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Jennifer Welsh

Jennifer Welsh is a Connecticut-based science writer and editor and a regular contributor to Live Science. She also has several years of bench work in cancer research and anti-viral drug discovery under her belt. She has previously written for Science News, VerywellHealth, The Scientist, Discover Magazine, WIRED Science, and Business Insider.