We're connected through technology in more ways than ever before, but we're also losing face-to-face interaction and multi-generational living. People are sometimes eating alone, in front of the television, which is not ideal and can possibly even impede our capability to properly digest our food. It's a challenge that we must consciously address.
Take an Italian family that makes tomato passata, for example. It's like a ceremony. The tomatoes are picked, nana soaks them, and the skins come off when they're boiled. The young kids crush them and then the older guys bottle them. When we make food a ritual, we are reminded of what it means to be human.
When my partner Laurentine and I started FoodMatters, we lived in a share house. We arranged regular group dinner nights, and everyone had to be there. We sat around a big long table with bench chairs. We'd take turns to cook and always laid the table out properly. We'd have a drink, put the food out and have some good conversations. It was a ritual we created in that house.
Now that we have a family, we have created new rituals. Before a meal we'll say, "we're better," and then our two kids reply, "together." We'll also say a blessing to thank everyone who's made it possible that we have food. It's a small moment just to reflect and it centres us as a family for the meal. We try to replicate old-fashioned values so shared meals continue to be a family priority.
Other rituals might be turning off the TV, setting a meal time where everyone comes together to eat, or everyone has a job to complete in terms of setting up or cleaning.