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Returning to our Roots — It starts and ends with food.

Eating is meant to be an anxiety reducing activity. It’s meant to calm us, not spin us out of control. Eating is meant to be a unifying act, signifying community, safety, hearth and home. It is the glue that holds our world together.

So, when did the entire subject of food become laden with angst, doubt, recriminations, judgment? Did it happen with the first TV dinner in its aluminum tray? With the advent of the microwave? Was the demise of the family dinner precipitated by a conflicting schedule for each family member? As we each drifted into the kitchen to prepare our fast food entrée, we drifted apart. Food became utilitarian, an afterthought.

We all know the Norman Rockwell ideal. We are gathered to the dinner table each evening, our moms calling us inside to wash up, our appetites stimulated by the hard play of late afternoon. We slide into our chairs, with the smells of the kitchen creating heady expectations of gustatory bliss. The conversation revolves around the day’s events, each one taking a turn to be the star.

Furthermore, the food is prepared from whole, fresh ingredients, just for this moment in time. The nourishing food and the relaxed atmosphere allows our bodies to enter rest and digest mode, thus enabling us to thrive.

We are young. We feel we will always be young…

So the story goes.

Now, if we are at all a lost generation, perhaps what we have lost is this – the sense of community that a simple meal can provide. The cohesive comfort that allows us to relax. If we are a lost generation, we have in large part lost the ability to see food as nurture rather than only as nature.

With the advent of the convenience of meals in a pouch, we have set aside nutrition. The inconvenience of cooking fresh, whole foods has given way to the inconvenience of a host of digestive ailments. Do you see that there is inconvenience any way you look at it?

Is there no going back? Should we even try?

In some measure, yes, we need to try. I personally know of families who have made the 21st Century version of the family dinner a priority in their homes. Some keep to the traditional paradigm, turning off the TV, setting aside the phones, if even for just twenty minutes. Others prepare Sunday dinner or Saturday night supper as a constant in their lives. Still others, solitary out of necessity or busy schedules, learn to be comfortable on their own, setting a place at the table, complete with cloth napkin, with the singular focus on their meal.

What is learned in the exercise of emulating our forebears, even loosely, is worth much more than the convenience of the microwave bell and the recycle bin full of food packaging — which these days makes us feel like a contributing member of society.

What we gain is health – for our bodies, for our minds, for our emotions. This is a legacy we owe our children and our children’s children.

Our very lives rest on the act of eating. All the days of our lives are built on the nutrients we provide to our bodies. The body ‘s innate intelligence has amazing healing ability, if we would only provide it with the proper building blocks — the nutrients in whole, fresh foods, consumed in a setting that allows us to relax, taste and absorb the goodness placed in front of us.

Can we return to our roots? I believe we can. And we must.

And it all starts and ends with food.


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