In this book, one of the things that has struck me as I read the last couple of chapters is how the way we eat both mirrors our lives and influences our lives. She quotes a recent study at UCLA that states that only 17% of families sit down regularly for meals. 17%. That is a very small number.
She also talks about the way foods are now prepared and “designed”. The makers of food have changed their approach to food. Rather than fresh food, that can be messy and must be eaten with a fork while sitting at a table, food makers/preparers are opting to do away with the fork in favor of food that can be eaten with the hands, but that is not messy enough to get on our clothes.
Around 30% of people, when asked to prioritize their day and plot out how much time is spent in various activities fail to list food consumption at all. This is a great indicator of the fact that we are eating on the go to get the food in our bellies, but not taking time to really sit and eat.
Where have we gone as a society when we fail to sit down and eat? What does this tell us?
Sitting down for a meal is a way to connect face to face. In a world where we so easily hop on facebook and twitter to check out what the latest is in our virtual world, sitting down and shutting down this digital noise is essential for our relationships. I am not an alarmist who believes that all digital media is bad. Quite the contrary, I embrace much of it, and feel it is an incredible tool in life.
However, the way we multi-task ourselves right out of real face to face conversations and relationships seems very dangerous. Central to who we are as humans is the idea of relationship. If we miss out on these relationships that are so valuable to us, how can we make them up? The fast food of virtual friendships will not satisfy our longing for the old fashioned sit down meal and conversation that our lives desperately crave. In our wired world, the allure of our technology for the ease of use and speed of connection can dupe us into believing that we have consumed adequate nutrition, but in reality we may have an inbalance of nutrition in our lives. Perhaps we should sit down and consume a meal with friends, slowly, allowing interpersonal communication to take place.
And by the way, I am proud to be a part of the 17% of families who eat dinner together.