Monday, November 14, 2011

Food and Connection: Coming Together Around the Table  

Written by Elaine

Unplugging can be a challenge. It seemed much easier when our daughter was younger. I work from home and am online most days. Chloe (our teenager) often has to use the computer for homework, and of course there is the iPod. Who doesn’t enjoy listening to music? My husband spends most of his day working on computers or network systems. It seems that one of us is always plugged into something. 

It's a dilemma. When the days are shorter and nights are longer, there's even more of a temptation to go our separate ways and disconnect from each other. So what coaxes us to unplug and come together as a family?  


Food.  Preparing it and eating it. Once the hearth was the center of the home — both a literal hearth at the fireplace, and a metaphorical hearth, the place the family gathered for warmth, light and sustenance. Today our kitchen is the hearth, the heart of the home. It is where we gather together, whether it's just the three of us, our extended family or members of our community. 


My husband, daughter and I make the effort to unplug and come together most nights at dinner time. Not only do we go offline and put our electronic devices down, we gather together with the intention of connecting as a family. We do this by preparing and eating our meal together. The kitchen is mostly my domain. Most days you will find me in there cooking up something. But at dinner time I let go of controlling my beloved territory by bringing my family in to help in the preparation. There is always salad to make, things to chop, drinks to pour and a table to set. 


By participating in the creation of a meal, we become connected not only to our food, but also to those who grew it and those who are eating with us. Giving thanks is an important part of this process, and it creates an even deeper connection with the food we are eating. My family is blessed to live in an area where we have access to just about everything we need locally. We know the face of the farmers who provide us with our eggs, most of our produce, our chickens and any other animals we consume. This deepens our connection to our food, to each other and to our community even more.


The silver rain
The shining sun
The fields where scarlet poppies run
And all the ripples in the wheat
Are in the bread that we do eat
So when we sit at every meal
With grateful hearts we always feel
That we are eating rain and sun
And fields where scarlet poppies run
— by Alice C. Henderson 
(This is our favorite family grace said or sung before meals.)

In a world where being constantly plugged in is the norm  . . . sharing our meals (unplugged!) is one way we keep our family connected.

How does food keep you connected to your family and community?

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