By Laurie David
Wow. It certainly has been quite a month of good reading at the ! We’ve seen topics ranging from the to to to and we’ve learned a lot of along the way. It feels like the importance of family dinner is finally getting its seat at the table with some great national advocates acknowledging its place. Family dinner can be among the practical solutions to some of our country’s biggest problems including obesity, diabetes and connecting with each other.
In the 4 weeks since began, Anderson Cooper covered it on his new daytime talk show and posed a Diane Sawyer aired a compelling piece about family dinner on , a popular new recipe search site launched their , and the New York Times presented a in their annual food & drink issue of their magazine, just to name a few.
As a mother of daughters, I have survived the picky toddler, antsy adolescent and terrible teen years, thanks in large part to the ritual of family dinner. It’s so rewarding to see the topic gaining momentum in the public eye. I really believe that we are heading down the wrong road as a society when we let go of the basic rituals that are the backbone of who we are as a people. Family dinner is one of those rituals that connects us, enriches us, nourishes our minds and our bodies. It is truly a backbone of civilization. It is how our grandparents raised their kids, and their parents before them. It’s where we learned how to listen and debate and discuss. It is our first participation in a community. We should be holding on to it for dear life, not tossing it away and replacing it with one-minute meals cooked by a microwave or eating on the run, next to our kitchen counter or in our car. We may be living in modern times, but it’s the old-fashioned values that will help us get through the day.
Raising healthy and happy kids is one part of this issue. What we are doing to this planet we all love and depend on in the name of food is another. We’re in the nascent, but swelling, early stages of a food revolution in this country. People are waking up to the fact that we have to do things better, more sustainably for the planet and its growing population, and healthier for us as individuals. Antibiotics in our meat, genetically modified crops, mercury laced tuna, overfishing, water pollution, global warming, and toxic chemicals, are all food issues and all problems we need to face and solve. The great news is that some of the solutions exist right in your very own kitchen.
The choices we make everyday about what to buy, and when, where and how to buy it, all have an impact on these big issues. When I get overwhelmed, that is what I do. I narrow in on my family, my kitchen and my home: how to feed them better, in season and locally, how to waste less, use less plastic, compost, grow some food myself. This is something I know I can do today to make a difference.
So, as we all celebrate let’s sit down to a family dinner. Let’s cook dinner from scratch and since it’s Monday, let’s make it meatless. Let’s drink water from a glass, use real napkins, light a candle and let’s all pause to give thanks, for this meal, and all the great family dinners still to come. Amen.
Check out this recipe and video from The Family Dinner Book.
For a great idea on a meatless, family friendly, quick and easy meal to make today for Food Day, try the Speedy Pasta in a Pan, straight from the pages of The Family Dinner. You’ll find the recipe for this delicious meal, and a video instruction from Laurie and Kirstin on how to make it.
LAURIE DAVID, author of The Family Dinner Book, is a noted environmentalist and producer of the Academy Award–winning film An Inconvenient Truth and the HBO documentary Too Hot Not to Handle. She executive produced Earth to America!, a prime-time comedy special about global warming, which earned her a Gracie Allen Award for Individual Achievement. She is the author of the best-selling book, The Family Dinner Book (co-author Kirstin Uhrenholdt) as well as two award-winning books about the environment, Stop Global Warming: The Solution Is You (2006) and The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming (co-author Cambria Gordon, 2007)
She has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Stanley Kramer Award from the Producers Guild of America and a Humanitas Prize Special Award for An Inconvenient Truth. Laurie, a regular blogger on the Huffington Post, has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Martha Stewart Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, and MSNBC and was named a 2006 Glamour Woman of the Year. She has been profiled in People, Glamour, Vogue, Rolling Stone, Elle, Wired, House & Garden, Outside, The New York Times, and Vanity Fair.