So for those who know me, it’s absolutely no surprise that I love food and am a pretty big foodie (though if you saw me, you might not think I eat much). I love eating and I love cooking. I love watching different shows on the FoodNetwork.
I’m certainly not unique in being a person who enjoys food, and who enjoys the activities surrounding food (i.e. planning a meal, cooking, etc.). But even for those who may not appear to have a love (or boderline obsession for some of us) for food, food has a pretty profound impact on our social lives.
Consider some of the following ways in which food impacts and shapes our lives…
When something important happens in our lives, or even just something out of the ordinary, we often use this as an opportunity to indulge in some food.
Graduations – Out with family to a restaurant, or maybe have some type of large pitch-in meal.
Getting married? – Expect to serve dinner or at least hors d’ oeuvres to your guests.
Super bowl party – There better be some delicious nacho cheese dip along with a lot of other food.
Thanskgiving – I don’t think this requires any explanation.
Birthday – birthday dinner and cake…
Family reunions – again, expect some type of pitch-in or meal
Big date – dinner and a movie
All of these events have some sort of meal or food as a central component to the activity. People get together for these events or occasions and there’s an expectation that food will be served or available. It gives people something to do (eat!) while the occassion is taking place.
Our very social interactions often have food at the center. Eating or munching gives us something to do at many of the events and occassions listed above. This can halp to facilitate and ease a lot of the interactions that go on.
It also gives us actual content for many of these interactions:
“Wow, this dip is pretty good. What do you think?”
“Did you make that sauce? What did you put in it?”
Food gives us something to think about, talk about, comment on, and discuss.
Planning and cooking meals may also full of social interactions with others.
But it’s not just that food is available at a lot of these occassions and is topic for conversation; food actually structures the very organization of our lives.
Structure of Our Day
Think about a “typical” day for many people.
Wake up: Breakfast.
Off to work.
Break from work: Lunch.
Home from work: Dinner.
The very structure of our daily lives and the way that we’ve arranged the “typical work day” is aligned with our eating patterns. After we finish our first meal, it’s time to go to work. We get our midday break from work scheduled in as a meal. And we know that it’s time to get home from work in order to enjoy our third meal of the day.
Food is also something that many people obsess about.
There are people who binge eat.
People who eat to feel better.
People who despise food and won’t eat.
People who count calories and strictly monitor what they eat.
People who work out obsessively to eliminate any trace of having eaten.
People who have plastic or cosmetic surgery to alter the way that food has affected their appearance.
People who gain a sense of identity from food and are characterized by their eating habits: “Oh, he’s a health nut” “She’s a vegan” “He has a real sweet tooth”
This doesn’t even take into account the entire restaurant and food service industry or grocery stores and food suppliers. It doesn’t take into account food production. Or preparation. Or advertising. Or any of these other facets of society that are incredibly prevalent and influential.
Just a little food for thought.
So as a parting piece of advice in three words that I once saw and enjoyed:
Eat. Be happy.