I have always been drawn to food in a very deep, very feeling sort of way. I love flavor and texture...the process of starting with raw ingredients in the kitchen, and ending with a beautiful, delicious masterpiece. And as a result, as I've grown, I've been very drawn to food photography. Stunning food photography compels us to recognize the experience of eating as more than just sustenance. It is a ritual, an appreciation, a meaningful moment in our lives that recurs many times a day, day after day.
Even with my amateur food photography skills, capturing the visual subtleties of a dish is always a pleasure and a surprise for me. When I looked at this picture of a (failed) plum cake, I noticed the range of hues in the plum flesh and the aura of caramelized juice that seeped over the dish. This, the appreciation of what goes into our bodies and keeps us running, is one of the simplest and most beautiful aspects of our daily lives.
But the average American spends just 1.1 hours per day eating. At three meals a day, that's 22 minutes per meal. That's not a lot of conversation with the family. That's not a lot of savoring. That's not a lot of listening to your body.
We're all guilty of it. It's just too easy to use that time to multi-task, or to see that time as less valuable than the time we spend Getting Things Done.
But we pay a price. These data indicate there is some relationship between the time we spend eating and our obesity rates. Maybe it's causal, maybe not. But I'd be willing to bet that the mindfulness we engage when we savor our bites and chew our food can help us feel more satisfied and in tune with our hunger signals.
And let's not forget how culturally meaningful the dining table is. It is our time to bond with others, to be thankful, to take care of ourselves. If we don't invest time there, what does that say about our values?
We should find the time. Even if it's just once a week, for a Sunday breakfast or a mid-week dinner...we should find the time to be present with our food, to appreciate it and the company of those that share it with us. I have a feeling it's a big part of our joie de vivre.