The Dinner Table as Health Clinic

a group of people enjoying dinner

My wife Sue and I enjoyed a unique dinner last night. We and about 150 other people gathered for a meal in the packing room of a Denver cannery. The room had been transformed into a festive space, with tea lights strung above long tables where the diners shared heaping plates of food passed family-style.

The occasion was the Slow Meat conference, hosted by Slow Food USA. If you are unfamiliar with Slow Food, let me explain. It is the opposite of…fast food. That about sums it up.

Well, there’s a little more to the story.

An Italian named Carlo Petrini launched the movement in 1986 to oppose the opening of an American fast-food restaurant near one of the historical sites in Rome. Since then, the movement has flourished around the world to promote traditional and regional foods, and responsible farming practices. Part of the Slow Food Movement is involved with exotic recipes featuring unique regional ingredients.

But Slow Food also celebrates that the act of breaking bread together involves much more than simply satisfying our appetites. The family dinner table is where children tell of their day’s activities, and parents listen. A casual picnic is where families build memories. Many a marriage proposal was made—and accepted—somewhere between the appetizer and dessert of a romantic dinner.

Not everyone has the time or money to seek out exotic ingredients, and to spend hours preparing a gourmet feast. But taking the time to slow down a bit and spend time with our children, friends and family over a homemade meal certainly offers good medicine for the ills of our fast-paced lives.

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