(June 4) If you could get all the nutrition you needed in a day with a pill — no worrying about what to eat, no food preparation — would you do it?
No, I don’t think I would, although I might like the option on a day in which I don’t have time to eat. But I cannot nor would not want to imagine a world without the taste of sweet chocolate, juicy strawberries or barbecued shish-kabobs!
The pleasure of eating is something we all experience. Having to eat forces you to slow down – maybe just a little if you eat fast – and reflect on how your day is going, talk to a companion, or entertain yourself with reading or TV. Everyone is in such a rush these days that they don’t take time to interact with others and to enjoy the pleasure of delighting their taste buds. When I was growing up, my family of seven all gathered together to have dinner. It was rare that we were allowed an exception to watch a favorite TV program. It was a time to converse with family members and to display good manners: “May I please be excused?” was a required request to leave the table. I don’t think I would know the names of most of my parents’ friends or much about the lives of my brother and sisters if we hadn’t spent time together at the dinner table.
Nowadays, it seems that many families do not have that time together – whether it’s no longer valued or because everyone is in a rush. Sometimes schedules don’t coincide: children come home from school when Mom and/or Dad have gone to work, or an older sibling works the late night shift so is still sleeping at dinner time. Kids have electronics in their rooms to entertain them. They might munch on their fast food while playing a video game or watching TV. I’m not sure they even pay enough attention to the food to enjoy it or think about the taste. The purpose of eating to people who eat on the run is to satisfy their hunger – they have to eat. These are the people who probably would like to take a nourishment pill.
But sitting down and eating a meal is an important part of our society, even of humanity. If at home, someone has to take the time to prepare it – which they may or may not enjoy doing. This also takes time, but it also adds to the appreciation of the meal. Many of our celebrations center around food: banquets at weddings, barbecues on the fourth of July, buffets at a variety of gatherings.
It’s an excuse to get together and catch up with friends, family and acquaintances. It’s a time to meet new people – many people meet their future life partner at a wedding, funeral, anniversary or birthday party.
What would life be without the simple pleasure of an ice cream cone in the summer or a brownie at a potluck? What can beat treating ourselves to dinner at a nice restaurant with those we love to celebrate a special occasion? Food can have nearly an infinite variety of tastes and textures – some we like, some we don’t. It’s a conversation piece. Food is a prominent part in most, if not all, cultures around the world. Food played an important part in history – when would the New World have been “discovered” by Europeans if they weren’t on a constant quest to obtain spices from the East? Perhaps we would be speaking a Native American language today. Without food, our history would be completely different.
So before the next time you sit down to eat, take the time to arrange the different foods on your plate. When you sit down at the table (and NOT in front of the TV), look at your plate and appreciate the variety of tastes, colors, textures and nutrients before you even take a bite. Then take that bite – but don’t rush! Savor it. Talk to whoever is with you. Be glad for our Earth and its bounty of food. Without it, life would be terribly dull!