Fast food. TV frozen dinners. 30 minute recipes. Quick, fast & cheap. This is how I perceive most of our society eats. We no longer have a direct & meaningful experience with food. We don’t gather our fruits, nuts or vegetables (unless you are one of the lucky ones to have your own organic vegetable garden in your own yard or live on a farm). We are definitely no longer a hunter & gatherer society. Instead we are a society of convenience, of mass produce, of giant grocery stores, of fast food chains, etc. We hunt for our food by driving our cars around looking for a restaurant, fast food joint or a grocery store. We are on the go. Never having enough time to slow down and appreciate what we eat. We don’t celebrate our food enough. It’s too easy to just drive through a fast food restaurant, pay $5 for a ‘meal’ and quickly satisfy the hunger.
I certainly do not eat this way. Back in 2006, I did a cleanse with a few of my friends and that started my journey into changing the way I eat and look at food. I am more conscious about what I put into my body. I understand that my body needs fuel to run efficiently and I make sure it gets what it needs and more. During the cleanse, my friends and I would very carefully pick the ingredients of the meal we were going to cook and then cooked together. We read labels, learned new vegetables to try, new types of breads, alternative sugars, discovered quinoa, kale, etc. My friends and I bonded in a whole new way. We learned a lot from each other by sharing what we researched & discovered. We sparked a new connection in our relationship. With the growth of our ‘age of convenience’, long lost is the ritual of catching our food and preparing it with our family members or close friends. Long lost is the art of honoring it and celebrating it by the process of cooking-involving all family members or friends in the preparation. Finally, enjoying the meal together and bonding, really taking the time to smell, taste and give thanks for the food. The bonding experience that takes place when a family or group of friends prepares and cooks a meal together strengthens that connection. I don’t have any ‘data’ on this but this is just something that I have noticed throughout the years.
Why isn’t family cooking a ritual in our society? Cooking is another way parents can connect with their children. I would think that a family that bonds by cooking & eating together is less likely to become dysfunctional. Again, I don’t have any ‘data’ on this (for you left-brain folks ). It’s just my observation. Parents can teach their children how important a nutritious meal is through the cooking experience. The passing of knowledge is important for children and can begin to understand that food is not just something to fill their tummys with but food is energy that helps their body function through good calories, fats, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. And with the right combination, a person’s body can run in it’s most optimum health. But unfortunately in our society, this is not something that most people understand, as you can see in the rise of obesity issues. And also organic, fresh ingredients are not always easily accessible or affordable. Sadly, many people or families choose to eat at fast food restaurants because they can afford it more than a home cooked meal. But through conscious awareness & education we can begin to shift to a new way of thinking when it comes to food. We need to demand organic, nutritious, and wholesome foods. And as a community we can also help each other grow herb & vegetable gardens in our own yards. The gardening trend is increasing. I read in Epicurious.com, “nearly 43 million U.S. households are planning to grow their own produce this year, which is up 19 percent from 2008, according to the National Gardening Association”. It is a wonderful feeling when you pick your own tomato & chard to cook for the evening.
I appreciate the way the Asians & Europeans celebrate food. Dinner plays an important part of their lives and will usually spend anywhere from 2-4 hours bonding & connecting this way. I know that most people or families don’t have this kind of time. But you can always make time for this.
I’d love to hear stories from others. Did you grow up in a family that didn’t celebrate food? Or maybe you did grow up in one? Is this something that you are doing with your family or friends today? Or perhaps you’d like to do more of this? What are your thoughts on this?
Photo Credit: Jason M