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Americans Cook The Least

Updated on April 15, 2011

OECD 2011 study is out and it shows that Americans spend the least amount of time cooking as compared with the 28 other countries in the study (listed below). Excel chart data here.

Note that when we say "cooking" here, we mean food preparation plus the clean-up.

On average, a person in the United States spends 30 minutes of cooking per day. The average among all the countries in the study is 50 minutes. India spends the most time cooking at 74 minutes a day.

It is true that not everyone cooks. Some people don't cook at all -- either eating out all the time, or someone else cooks for them (they should be so lucky). The above statistics is based on the calculation that the "average" is taken by dividing by everyone (regardless of whether they cook or not).

How Many People Cook?

What percentage of the population actually does the cooking? That depends on the country.

On one extreme you have Sweden where most people cook -- 81% of the population cooks. On the other extreme, you have Ireland and India where only 44% of the population does the cooking.

United States and Canada is near the low end of the spectrum with only 51% of the population doing the cooking.  You can say about half the population cooks.

In general (averaging all the countries in the study), 64% of the population does actually cook.

How Much Time it Takes To Cook?

Okay, let's ignore all those people that do not cook. For only those people who actually do the cooking, how much time do they spend cooking per day?

United States still does the least. On average, their cooking participant spends one hour each day doing the cooking (58 minutes to be exact).

Technical stuff: Divided by the entire population you get half-hour of cooking per person. Divided by the cooking population, you get one hour of cooking per cooking participant. The math appears correct and makes sense. Because half the population cooks. It is always good to do a rough "sanity check" on data that one reads.

For India, on average, their cooking participant spends 170 minutes (that's over 2 and 50 minutes!) cooking each day. This is the most of all the countries in the study.  You can say that not that many people in India cooks (44%).  But for those that do cook, they sure spend a lot of time doing it.  Well that makes sense too.  Since only a small percentage of the population does the cooking, they have to spend a lot of time cooking in order to feed the entire population.  

India, after all is the second most populous country in the world with 1.16 billion people.  This is second only to China with 1.3 billion people.

On average of all the countries in the study, the cooking participant typically spends 84 minutes cooking.

Countries in the Study

OECD stands for Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development.  The countries (in alphabetical order) involved in this study are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States.

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