Family Dinner is Sacred

Eating dinner together is something that my husband and I have always done. We ate dinner together long before we were married, and even, I'm sorry to say, long before I was a good cook. Even when the food was bad, or wasn't homemade, we would carve out time to sit down, check in, and share a meal.

Back then, we did it without thinking about what it meant. It was something we did because it was something our families did--a tradition we wanted to carry out for the formation of our lives. As I got older, though, the meaning of family dinners became about so much more than just carrying on tradition, and I was reminded of this while watching Michael Pollan, author of Cooked (and lots of other awesome books) on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday.

Pollan talked about eating and how it's a sacred act. I truly believe in this. When you think about nourishing your body, and all the work it took to get those foods to your table, it really is an amazing journey. It's the reason so many people say "grace" before dinner (to give thanks), and generally people are thanking God for the food they are receiving. Why? Because it's a sacred act in many ways.

I believe this is one of the reasons that we have to be mindful of the ways our food is grown, the way animals are treated and how we are preparing the food. I see all of these things as part of my responsibility as a parent, but also as the person who shops for our home and prepares the food for everyone. I believe that way the food is grown is important. I want to feel thankful for the meat I am eating, and I don't want to feel that the animal's life was miserable or that the workers who were farming the vegetables were mistreated or taken advantage of.

I was reminded of this, responsibility and it was reinforced. I was also happy to be reminded about the power of the shared experience, in particular, when Pollan talked about sitting down for a meal with the people we love. That experience of being together is one that is so important.

Sometimes, especially being home with my child so much, I wonder what the heck I've done all day. But when we all sit down together and share a meal I've spent time preparing, and we all enjoy the meal, I feel so good deep down. I feel accomplished (not only that I survived the day with a toddler) but that I made something that nourished my family, and we spent time enjoying it together.

When I think of all these concepts in unison, pulling together a dinner is really a symphony. There are so many different elements at play from the way the food was grown, to where it was purchased, to how it's prepared and finally the way in which we eat it together. All of these things collide at the dinner table, and so I really do see it as one of the most important things we do together each day.

Family dinner is sacred. It's part of the way we are bringing up our daughter, and it's not just about the sitting down, but everything that happens in the world to get us to the table with nourishing, healthy and ethical food.

I wanted to take a moment to appreciate all of this, but also to urge others to take part in sharing a family meal at least once a day if you don't already. But I would also like to hear about how my readers are being responsible consumers. What's one (or two or more) things that you do to be a responsible eater?

For us, probably one of the largest that we participate in is being responsible carnivores. We eat a lot of venison, and only antibiotic, hormone free chicken that has been raised responsibly. (That's pretty much the only meat we're currently eating, aside from the occasional fish, which is usually salmon.) What about you? Let's discuss and share in the comments section below!

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