What’s the most sustainable thing you can do?
Stop using plastic bags?
Plant a tree?
Sure, those are all good options.
However, as a farmer, I’m here to suggest a radical idea that I believe can help save the planet.
Not just any dinner.
A dinner that starts at the farmer’s market and ends at your table.
Why a farmer’s market? Because it’s here that you can connect with your local farmers and purchase the very best food, at the peak of its nutrition and flavor. Take your whole family, say hi to the people who grow your food, and let your children pick out a new vegetable they’ve never heard of. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. It may seem a little scary to cook a vegetable you’ve never heard of, but that’s why it’s so amazing that the farmer who grew it is there to sell it to you. They’ll tell you how to prepare the fruits of their labor much like a parent will tell you how to care for their newborn child.
When you get home, pull your bounty from your bags (hopefully they’re re-usable) and start prepping your food. Get the whole family involved. Our three-year-old daughter is great at peeling garlic and cracking eggs. And, I don’t mean to brag, but our one-year-old son is kind of a genius at stuffing all the garlic skins in his mouth when he thinks no one’s looking. While you’re cooking, put on some music and dance in the kitchen (bonus points if you can convince your kid to try something other than the Moana soundtrack). Laugh together.
Dinner’s almost ready? Great! Set the table. Everyone helps. Plates, forks, napkins, glasses. At our kitchen table we light a candle to signal that dinner is beginning. It’s a tradition that started because our daughter kept getting up and walking around while everyone else was still eating. We bribed her with the promise of blowing out the candle if she waited until dinner was over to get up. Now it’s kind of my favorite thing about eating. Yeah, there’s food on the floor from the baby, and convincing a three-year-old to use a fork over her hands is a bigger challenge than you might think, but there’s a candle glowing at the center of the table, which makes us feel super fancy and sophisticated.
Family dinners are my favorite part of the day. It’s a sacred time, with no electronics and no distractions. It’s a time that’s purposeful, when we talk about the food we’re eating, where it came from and how it got to our plates. We talk about the Earth and taking care of it, so we can continue to harvest meals like the ones before us. Family dinner is a time when we reconnect with each other after a day of everyone going in different directions (or if you’re the baby, going in all directions).
And so, if you find yourself asking yourself, what’s the most sustainable thing I can do? Consider this. Eating food is one of the most personal acts we do as humans. You’re taking something wholesome that grew from the earth, and you’re feeding your body. More than that, preparing food together, food that comes from farmers (your neighbors) in your community, and sharing it with your family is where we truly start to understand just how important and beautiful our relationship is with the Earth. As you have more family dinners together, you’ll create your own traditions, and you’ll instill a love of food that nourishes your soul.
Plus, you’ll enjoy some really amazing meals together.
And that’s an idea I can get behind.
Image Source: @Andadot