Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition and Food Sciences

First Advisor

Trubek, Amy


The primary aim of this research was to investigate cooking practices and cooking knowledge in a rural environment, as well as learn how the kitchen environment may reflect and/or shape an individual‘s process when creating a meal. Qualitative methods were implemented allowing for the data to be triangulated. The research methods used included a semi-structured interview, participant questionnaire, and videotaping dinner time meal preparations by the primary meal preparer on two separate occasions. Emergent themes about the role of the rural food environment began to develop surrounding how respondents procure food. The rural Vermonter relied on using home gardens, farmers‘ markets, and community supported agriculture to procure food. Another theme that emerged was the role of the primary meal preparer, or the ―nutritional gatekeeper.‖ The nutritional gatekeeper was a huge component in controlling family meals and portion sizes inside, and outside the home, and the ingredients used in homemade meals. All rural respondents had some degree of cooking skills that began at a young age. Their skills were honed over time by necessity and/or curiosity. Rural respondents had general nutrition knowledge that was evident by their definition of a healthy meal, and procuring the freshest ingredients. The kitchen space was less of an influential factor when creating a meal than initially anticipated, but was the processing center where procured food items were crafted into a meal. The theme surrounding the environment and local foods strengthens the 21st century‘s shift of what consumers are demanding from the Nation‘s food system. Understanding how nutritional gatekeepers choose to prepare meals, and the influence of their food environment on the meal thought process, may make the domestic home a platform to disseminate healthful cooking practices. This study concluded an ongoing ethnographic study investigating peoples cooking practices, and cooking knowledge in an urban (Boston metropolis), suburban (Burlington, VT), and rural (Franklin and Lamoille County, VT) environments as an implication towards health.