During my Christmas vacation, my husband and I spent several days visiting with my parents who live a couple hours North of Cincinnati. It's borderline comical how we pack when we travel. The heaviest bag in the bunch? The food bag(s).
Because we make everything from scratch, I don't expect my mom to cook every meal and because my husband is on a strict eating plan, I definitely don't expect my mom to go grocery shopping before we get there. So, I pretty much throw everything I possibly can, from our fridge and pantry, into travel bags and off we go.
While at my parents, I observed two things. The first thing is that setting a good example, when it comes to healthy eating, does have a positive impact. It opens up the door for conversations about why we eat this and not that and how it effects our long-term health. By the end of our stay, I was helping my mom clean out their pantry. It was a blessing to hear my mom say, new year, no junk.
The second thing I observed is that more home-cooked meals lead to more quality family time. I have to say that cooking dinners with my mom (and dad, occasionally) were the highlight of my trip. It brought back memories of making cookies and other goodies with grandma. It didn't take long, after enjoying so much family-kitchen time, to realize how home-cooked meals and time spent together are being sacrificed for fast/convenient foods and meals in the minivan instead of at the table. I love what this article has to say about this topic:
The family dinner has been hijacked by the food industry. The transformations of the American home and meal outlined above did not happen by accident. Broccoli, peaches, almonds, kidney beans and other whole foods don't need a food ingredient label or bar code, but for some reason these foods — the foods we co-evolved with over millennia — had to be "improved" by Food Science. As a result, the processed-food industry and industrial agriculture has changed our diet, decade by decade, not by accident but by intention.
The whole article is a wonderful read. It's refreshing to see a news story that stresses the need to get back to basics and celebrates family time. We live in a culture that's constantly interrupted by cell phones, pagers, video games, errands, tight schedules—people are just plain tired. And, when the tiredness sets in, the first thing sacrificed is food, which we are paying dearly for in the form of disease, chronic pain, emotional issues, and lack of energy.
It's time to get back to enjoying the pure taste of unprocessed foods, learning (and enjoying) to cook, and using food prep time to teach our children to love eating healthy while building strong, open relationships. The result of doing these things is a healthy family & a memory bank full of precious memories to be enjoyed over and over again for a lifetime.