New research busts a big myth about people who can’t afford to buy the healthy food they need: they can cook just fine, thank you — they just don’t have enough money to, says Valerie Tarasuk, an expert in food insecurity and a professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Nutritional Sciences.

There are often programs put in place to teach people who are food insecure how to shop and cook, “thinking that if they were just more skilled, they would be able to better function on a low income,” said Tarasuk, who looked at self-reported food skills and gardening behaviours of people who were food insecure.

“What our findings suggest is that they’re already very skilled,” she said — making detailed grocery lists and shopping within a budget.

The single biggest predictor of food insecurity is income, she concludes.