Tip of the Month – January 2013 By Cynthia Ruzzi
Food For Thought Having just concluded the ‘Thanks-ukah-mas-year’ eating fest, many of us are facing the first week of our New Years’ resolution to stop eating convenience foods filled with empty calories, fats and chemicals. Perhaps our indulgence – or hard work – during the holiday makes us shy away from the thought of more family meals, but it is now more important than ever to eat together.
Eating as a family weaves the fabric of the relationship. With everyone in the family heading in different directions during the day, family meals at home are a perfect time to work together to enjoy simple pleasures and connect on a regular basis. Family meals provide more than enhanced nutrition. A shared family meal provides nourishment, comfort and support for those we love. Our children learn about the world every day from many sources and the dinner table is a perfect opportunity to provide a routine time to share within a family space. Celebrate your family and come together at your table to explore family culture, food, teach your children dining and conversational social skills and get in touch.
Eating as a family is less expensive, more efficient and healthier. Avoiding convenience foods and cooking at home is often more economical, healthy and tasty. Serving organic, fresh foods that are minimally processed and locally sourced guarantee improved nutrition and because they have more natural flavor, whole food can be prepared simply – saving time in the kitchen. Incorporating herbs, vegetables and fruit from your garden or the farmers’ market enables a child to learn about where our food comes from. You’d be surprised how much broccoli a kid will eat when the child has tended and picked it themselves.
Eating as a family teaches children food sustainability. As part of the evenings’ blessing and discussion take time to recognize where the food on our table comes from to encourage understanding and appreciation of the bounty. Few of us know where bananas come from or have traveled the distance one has to take to come to our table. Exploring the origin of foods as part of the evening meal provides an opportunity to discuss everything from farming, to manufacturing, packaging and even disposal – or hopefully, composting.
Eating as a family takes practice. With every new practice, there are sure to be some difficulties and adjustments. Professionals say that the less time a family spends eating together at home, the more awkward those first few experiences will be, so first, try setting a goal for two times a week. Here’s two suggestions critical for success:
- Turn off the mobile/texting devices. View the family meal as a time to ‘plug into each other’ and avoid the distraction of phone calls and text messages that remind everyone of the world beyond the family.
- Get the whole family involved in the planning, shopping and preparation. Learning to plan, shop and cook a meal are invaluable skills for children when they leave home. You’d be surprised how impressed girls will be when your son cooks a meal instead of going to a restaurant for a date. Engaging everyone in the shopping helps each member appreciate what food costs. Even young children can be helpful in the kitchen given a little direction. You’d be surprised how quickly the time flies when all hands are engaged making a family dinner.
Sustainable Danville Area feels so passionately about food that along with The Danville Library we present a three-part speaker series FOOD FOR THOUGHT to nourish our spirit, our mind, our body and the environment. Our January talk Get Your Family Back to the Table – with Real Food – January 23rd 6:30pm at Veterans Memorial Building 400 Hartz Ave. brings you two speakers: Heather Clapp, Co-owner of Jules Organic Thin Crust Pizza who understands there’s time when you need to eat outside the home without forgoing nutrition. Heather, dedicated to educating her three active boys on where real food comes from, will provide inspiration to create organic vegetarian meals that will sustain and nourish your entire family and Lisa Evaristo, Co-owner of Back to the Table Cooking & Baking School, also a parent of three children, teaches families that spending time cooking together, then sitting down and sharing a great meal is where the magic happens.
Food is also the topic of our first 2013 Green Your School Summit. Join us January 15th 4pm at SRVHS, special guest, Town of Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich kicks off the afternoon with speakers, Cindy Gershen, Founder of Wellness City Challenge and Dominic Machi, Director of Food Services, SRUVSD. Cindy will share the importance of nourishing our children with whole, healthy food and Dom will update us on “What’s Cooking in the Lunchroom”. For more information, visit events on http://www.sustainabledanville.com or join us on Facebook.
Reprinted with permission from Danville Today News