There are many ills to the world that we live in, a fact that I believe most of us can agree. It is the reason that I, and my fellows on this website, have come together to spread our ideas. Yes, even you here, scrolling on this page, decided to come because of the plight we all face. Maybe it was to learn about our perspective, perhaps even to assist us how you can. Regardless, you arrived because you felt that there was something wrong, and you wanted to change it. I am here to inform, on that note, a silent enemy that most of us may be doing little about.
As we divest into all of the modern circumstances we inhabit, from international politics, to domestic leadership and its contrivance, I have found a lacking in the way that most people, who describe themselves as dissidents, maintain their relationship with food and the culture surrounding it. It is all well and good to make the passing jab at major capitalists, posting memes in the vein of “Consume product,” that enlighten a wide audience to a subversive nature in our supply chain and the companies that fuel them. Even posting the good ol’ “Trad couple” wojak, and a slew of Telegram links to farming and agriculture channels, or some other self-sustaining help channels. I find it is little help though, when the people in question are so engrossed in their devices, that they eat while scrolling for things to be upset with. Yes, to me, it seems the great problem with our intake has as much to do with the food we feed ourselves, as the stimuli that surrounds it.
Ask yourself, when was the last time you had a full day of meals without checking your phone, watching YouTube videos/TV, or using electronics, period? If you can answer “Recently” with confidence and truth, then how about a week? How many of you out there eat with other people if you have the option to? If you do and cohabitate your feasts with friends and family, how many days out of the week? Do all of your friends and family share similar habits as you?
These may all seem like odd or even unreasonable questions, and I assure you they are not. I won’t pretend to have a perfect track record with any of the listed inquiries, but there are a plethora of reasons that it is of the utmost importance we strike down these habits. The dinner table has been the cornerstone of development for all people as long as it has been a concept; it was the original gathering, made for discussion, merriment, and growth. The forge that all lasting relations are formed in, and the pinnacle of interpersonal understanding. As we have crept into modernity though, use of this traditional respite has become a less common trend. The effects of this can be clearly seen in the children we raise.
A statement from the American College of Pediatricians in February 2021 states:
Family meals allow the parents to impart values and traditions, as well as demonstrate appropriate relationships, communication techniques, and problem solving skills.” They go on to claim positive correlations with academics, socialization, mental health, reduction of substance abuse, and a decrease of obesity rates. Sadly, fewer children receive these benefits than in the past. “Over the past three decades, family time at the dinner table and family conversation, in general, has declined by more than 30%. Families with children under age 18 report having family dinners three to four times per week. One third of families with 11- to 18-year-olds only eat one or two meals a week together. Only one fourth eat seven or more family meals per week. Furthermore, the quality of this time has declined with even those who partake. The experience at the meal table has also declined in quality with the increase in distractions, such as television watching, text messaging, phone conversations and social media.
I’m prone to agree with them in an anecdotal sense, given my view of a decline in such characteristics. I’ve seen too many children pacified by the embrace of a tablet or phone to disagree.
A study from the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity in 2013 corroborates some of this in European populations. After performing a questionnaire with 7915 children of a mean age 11.5 years, in eight European countries—Belgium, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland—they concluded:
The odds of being overweight was lower for children who ate breakfast and dinner compared to those who did not eat the respective meals. The odds of being overweight was lower for children who reported to never watch TV at lunch and dinner compared to those who did. A focus towards meal frequency and watching TV during meals in longitudinal and interventions studies in prevention of overweight and obesity, may contribute to a better understanding of causality.
As was stated above, one of the more pernicious trends in adults has been the rise of “zombie eating,” which refers to those that commonly eat while distracted by electronic stimuli. “Now, a new survey of 2,000 adults has found that a whopping 88% are so-called “zombie eaters” who stare at some type of screen while eating.” It is much to my chagrin that the only people I could find doing a survey on such a phenomenon are a foodstuff manufacturer themselves. As you can read from the article, it was conducted by Pretzel Crisps, a child company of the Campbell Soup Company—a company with a repertoire of snack foods, quick meals, and less than health-conscious choices save for V8, of which I would only recommend the low sodium version. I find little reason to believe that they would want this trend to change. If you read the article, they don’t seem to mention how absent-mindedly eating from behind a screen might be detrimental, but rather, give it a pass as normalcy stating “Zombie eating is something most of us can relate to – we’re busy, we’re productive, and we’re constantly on the move.” It seems telling that only a passing mention is given to the lack of a family dinner. When your business supplies the population with processed high-carb morsels and on the go soup, you really wouldn’t care much if people spent their time eating at work, or on the couch.
Now, if I was to go on with all of the problems that I find in our general food chain, I would be writing a book, not an article. From toxic ingredients, to widespread use of soy, the failures of an international “Just in time” model for delivery. Even the corruption in our own Corpo-Governance creating the misleading model of the USDA Food Pyramid, among other failures. Prominent issues within our food are mounting; they require our attention and action to correct for our nation. To rectify all of these issues, there is a need for awareness to be raised in our citizenry, and it would require more than just my words on this humble site. As it stands, though, no education or action will make an impact if there is no personal dynamic present to reinforce such knowledge.
This is why I invite you all to help: Gather your family, your friends, and your loved ones; find a way back to the table, and hear each other, without the distraction of digital brain sinks; and help rekindle the hearth of our nation, so that when change is on the horizon, we may inspire the hearts in our home.