Cherie was away all of last week while I was here tending the farm. I used to work till it was dark, then come in expecting to have supper at 9 o’clock, or whatever time I stopped for the day. At some point she told me that supper is at seven, and if I want to eat with the rest of the family I need to be sitting at the table at that time. I’m glad she did it. After that I made it my practice to come in and eat with the family. I’m just sorry I didn’t do it sooner. During my lawyering days I almost never ate meals with the family. I skipped breakfast, ate lunch at work and had supper whenever I got home, which was long after the rest of the family had eaten. I regret how I lived in those days. Now I’m a strong advocate of family meals and prioritizing them over work.
But with Cherie and the kids gone I decided to squeeze in more farm work and just eat supper after dark. Unsurprisingly, I found that when I came inside at 9, after a very long and tiring work day, I just didn’t have the energy to prepare a decent meal. One night I made a sandwich and if we had any junk food in the house I would have eaten it.
My experience confirmed what I’ve read is a significant contributing factor to our health crisis. In our contemporary culture, where both spouses work (or where a single person is head of household) it is often exhaustion that causes one of them to pick up KFC on the way home, or to serve preprepared processed food to the family. There isn’t enough time or energy to prepare a healthy meal.
As I reflected on this I better understood why this happens, but I also knew that I couldn’t do it too. We must resist becoming slaves to this system and when it threatens to enslave us, we simply cannot give in. So I made meals, no matter how tired I was. I took time during the day (usually after lunch) to prepare good food that I could heat at night. I made the time, understanding as I did that growing good food was a worthless enterprise if I didn’t eventually eat it.
This is a challenge our society has to face and overcome. We cannot be seduced by the industrial food complex into surrending to them. Our workaholism is a deeper problem, and too complex for this modest post. So is the materialism which drives us to try to earn so much more money than we really need. It seems to me that our single most significant reason for earning money should be to assure that we and our families are well nourished. If the effect of earning more money is to cause us to be less well nourished, then we have crossed into paradox and irony.
But I’m glad to have experienced what is a reality to millions of Americans. And may we all have the strength and self control to dodge that trap.