Family Dinner at the end of the day

My days’ off continue to be few and far between this time of year, but I felt compelled to write about family dinner at the farm, this year’s dairy intern, and the whole idea of food and its meaning at the end of the day.

Like most, I too am exhausted at the end of the day and would want nothing more than to have food delivered to my doorstep from an Amazon package with directions for how to open, heat, and serve; problem solved.

Spend time with your Food

The reality is that I have a garden outside my back door that I spent hours and weeks caring for and the farmers at the market who spent a great deal of time harvesting, washing and preparing healthy food for folks to take home for dinner; what do we do about that? Is the answer to trust? Trust that the box of goodies on the front porch awaiting our evening arrival has been handled, prepared and produced in a humane and safe way? That somehow that has the same value?

The idea and the actual process of putting food on the table that I gathered that morning or perhaps moments before dinner is a process that allows the mind the ability to slow down and appreciate the gift of being able to provide. While at the same time giving a sense of well being by providing nutrition at its highest level to myself and my family.

A French Family Dinner

Pierre Jurine, a young man from France, has spent the summer interning at the farm. Learning the art of cheese making and goat husbandry. Evening dinners have had many conversations about his country, food, farming, politics, etc…. On one particular evening, he asked about seating arrangements. He couldn’t understand why everyone changed where they sat every evening; everyone, except for Gregg and I that is. He was unclear about when one was allowed to leave the table as everyone seemed to randomly leave at different times without a word.

In his family of 5, they all sat in the same seat at every meal and his mother was the one to let them know when they could be excused. Dinners in France were different, in that platters of select foods were passed around the table for everyone to take from. Here, as he put it “all the food seems to be thrown together on one plate”

In regards to the seating, I suggested to him that perhaps it was a French thing. It brought back memories of my childhood around a very large farm table that seated 12. The oversized table made by my father had to be pushed away from the wall so that the bench could be lifted up for use. I was unfortunate enough to be stuck on the bench and forced to sit between two of my brothers. Mind you, I didn’t quite like being sandwiched between two of my brothers and I am not sure to this day who made the seating arrangements but I am sure there was a reason. Being able to leave the table on your own accord was nearly impossible for those of us sitting on the bench and therefore you sat until everyone moved. It was understood that you stayed until dinner was done; no leftovers on the plate.

From there each of the girls had their tasks of clearing the table, doing the dishes and sweeping the floor before the evening was considered complete. There are a few things that I do differently in my house when it comes to dinner, but coming together as a family unit each evening is not one of them.

I urge all who can, to come together as family and friends to engage in the process of making dinner and sitting around one big table together; even if it’s only for a half hour.