Dinner Table Conversation Matters

by Holland-Mark | December 13, 2009

dinner table
Image by sleepydisco via Flickr

The problems of the world will be solved when we sit down to dinner. Quite frankly, I don’t care if you’re eating a roasted chicken or a KFC family bucket, we can solve the obesity crisis second, the point is not what you’re eating, but that you’re eating in communion with others — that you are taking the time to talk over a meal.

Growing up we always ate dinner together. Years later there would be practices, plays, PTA meetings, and friends that kept all five of us from sitting down to dinner, but even then we made it a point. I grew up believing in the power of a meal, but more than that I grew up believing in the power of dinner table conversation. It was through those conversations that I found confidence in my ideas, learned to take pride in my brothers, and understood the complexities of a world economy listening to my parents talk. At the dinner table, we were all equals.

But this tale is more than nostalgia; it’s the realization of a theory. Just this evening, a roasted chicken prompted an intimate dinner party that brought together a teacher (who is also a bird watcher, fluent French speaker, and organic food enthusiast), a musician (holding a Master’s who also happens to take an intense interest in genealogy), a budding architect (who spends his days working retail after deciding to stop making a life as a jazz musician), and myself (a girl with a scattered understanding of various non-urgent or remarkable matters). There over a chicken (which yielded less than a desirable amount of food for four people) we began to talk. We were expressing interests, asking questions of our companions, sharing theories about sustainable farming, comparing our theories to those of books we were reading.  (Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food was mentioned.) Amongst us was a wealth of understanding, insight, and personal experience. A native of Texas, my views on farming and meat are vastly different than my East Coast comrades. But that was not the point. The point was something else entirely.

In the absence of CNN.com, HuffPo, RSS feeds, and the pile of unread New Yorkers next to my bed that gives me nightmares, there is still a wealth of knowledge to be cultivated. When there is nothing else to be read, there will always be a chicken to be roasted and hungry friends with whom to share.

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