The Food Connections
How food defines our lives and our community
(page 3 of 5)
It’s a Family Thing
Why the family meal is about more than just food
By Carson Caraluzzi
The distinct aromas mingle in my nostrils: garlic simmering in olive oil, the salty sea-tang of fresh clams and the comforting aroma of a French baguette fresh from the oven. It is said that smell, of all five senses, has the most power to bring back memories. From the torrent of nostalgia these simple scents give rise to, it's hard to disagree.
My own memories aren't the only reason I like to eat with family. In a recent article of Psychology Today, Dr. Gary Small, professor of psychiatry at UCLA states, "In a 2006 survey of nearly 100,000 teenagers across twenty five states, a higher frequency of family dinners was associated with more positive values and a greater commitment to learning." The doctor also warns of the consequences of not having family meals, a practice that inspires a lengthy list of "high-risk behaviors" such as "substance abuse, violence and academic problems."
Interviews with both teachers and students at my school proved a general consensus: People eat healthier when they eat with family. Although this outcome was the same, their reasons varied widely. Fellow classmate, and Senegalese exchange student, Daniel Gomis responded by saying, "Eating with family is better than eating outside because when your are eating outside you don’t know what you are eating. You don’t always know what's going to go into your food." According to Gomis, “In Senegal, all three meals are eaten with the family.” Bruno Cornejo, a Sun Valley employee and Peruvian native said that when he is home, he eats breakfast and dinner with his family, but many of those were purchased as precooked meals. In Gomis’ Senegal, however, most meals are made from scratch, like the Thiebou Djeun (rice and fish) or Yassa (white rice, onions and meat).
In Sun Valley, we benefit from Farmers Markets in Ketchum and Hailey that bring fresh food into our lives. The markets provide shoppers the ability to buy food directly from the farmers and ranchers who make it. This personal aspect of food is not to be dismissed lightly. After all, “Man does not live by bread alone.” It’s this personal aspect of food that makes dining with family so important. Food is, in the long run, about more than just nutrition and sustenance; it is an art and an exercise in bonding between multiple conscious minds.
Some seem to think that the simple act of sitting around a table with your immediate family every night inspires familial bonding like nothing else can. In the day and age where children and adults often spend entire days apart from each other, the family meal is invaluable. Something about sitting down before a traditional meal has startling power to bring people together and inspire connections that can last a lifetime.