Why study the family dinner? Well, for one it’s changing. Once a steadfast source of physical and communicative nourishment (intimacy, for better or worse, between your sister, your mom and your brother)…is no longer a regular figure in many North American homes. After returning to Canada from a year in the UK, France and Spain — where few children wandered far enough from the kitchen or dining room to avoid mom or dad’s “à table!” — I keenly felt the difference at home. We’ll eat together, if we happen to be around at the same time that night. Take it or leave it. My grandmother would not have approved.
Neither would have Mamie, my ’employer’ and surrogate grand-mère in rural Ariège!
A 2009 study by the market-research group NPD in the U.S. found that:
if a camera peeked in the kitchen window of every North American household we would see
- slightly more than half of them eating all together
- meals being eaten in shifts in one-third of all homes
- the TV blaring in 40 % of households
- a computer right beside the dinner plate in four per cent of the households (okay, admittedly not that high a percentage yet, but just wait until people realize they can have Skype meals with their loved ones across the globe)
It’s time to reclaim the family dinner (read the whole story at the Times-Colonist)