Food is part of our culture. It brings together families, communities and friends. This morning, I was privileged to experience food at its best, volunteering at my local soup kitchen, Toni’s Kitchen in Montclair, NJ. Along with about 12 other volunteers and staff, we cooked up a delicious, healthy and hearty meal for approx. 65 guests. The food was donated from local businesses, prepared with love and eaten with joy. There was a real sense of community in the room.
When I work with my clients, I really focus on the idea of “conscious eating.” These days, too many of us are eating on the go, in the car, on the streets, on the subways and we no longer take the time to sit at the table and eat our food. Not doing this prevents us from knowing what we are eating, tasting our food and experiencing it. I mean, how many of you have shoved down a burger or sandwich while driving the car AND talking on the cell phone AND listening the radio? At one point in time, I was guilty of the mindless multi-tasking that is so part of our culture. But, food is the one category in which “multi-tasking” should be prohibited.
Not too long ago, food was the centerpiece of our days. Families ate dinners, lunches together. Food brought about that sense of community and love. You can still see that today in some parts of the world. When I lived in Madrid, Spain, I always looked forward to the large meal in the middle of the day. All around the city, friends, family and colleagues would take a break out of the busy day to replenish their energy, body and spirit. The city would burst with life and food was in its proper place. Unfortunately, in most Western countries today, food is lonely – lacking that community, that real purpose. Today, at the soup kitchen these people gathered at tables with friends, strangers or maybe even enemies to enjoy a meal together. There was peace in the air and smiles on faces. Food had resumed its purpose – at the center of the room, the center of our hearts.
So I encourage you all, tonight or this weekend, put food back into its proper place – at the center of the table, surrounded by friends and family. Don’t just eat your food – experience it!