This past weekend I took a trip to Nashville with friends, where searching out good food was a priority. I have found that some of the best moments, the best conversations with the greatest laughs and the most meaningful tears occur at a table, with the clinking of plates and the sipping of drinks. 

Eating is a vital part of life obviously. We need food for nutrients, energy and sustenance. But there’s more to food than just survival. If it was just that, then why would we so often choose to do it together? There is an intimacy that comes with eating good food together. 

Even the Bible reveals that one of the things Jesus did after walking out of the grave was cook breakfast on the beach for his friends (John 21:1-14). There’s something about a meal together.

But like many good things, there is a dark side to the food we eat. I was troubled to see a report from the American Medical Association that the national obesity rate is approaching 40 percent. That’s nearly half the country weighed down and diseased by a part of life meant to bring joy and satisfaction. Instead, food for many has become the enemy, and what’s worse, is that so many of us don’t know how to get out of the cycle.

In a fast-paced world we have ditched the dinner tables with our families for drive thru lanes and we have abandoned real, fresh food for processed conveniences. We’re eating ourselves to death.

Marilyn Briggs from Ecoliteracy writes, “poor diet and physical inactivity are responsible for as many premature deaths as is tobacco—more than 1,200 deaths a day. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identifies diet as a ‘known risk’ for the development of the nation’s three leading causes of death: coronary heart disease, cancer, and stroke, as well as for diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis, among others…yet fewer than one-third of schools provide thorough coverage of nutrition education related to influencing students’ motivation, attitudes, and eating behaviors.”

There are trends in our society that we have adopted as normal that need to be re-examined. We need to eat together with our kids and show them real foods and healthy eating. Schools must teach thorough and comprehensive nutrition literacy, maybe even at the collegiate level. Especially at the collegiate level. This is an epidemic that needs to be addressed, through education and great care. 

Virginia Woolf writes in A Room of One’s Own that, “one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

Let’s get back to our tables, back to our kitchens, cooking real, nutritious and delicious food for each other. Our bodies will be grateful, as well as our souls.

Franklin Norton can be contacted at [email protected]