Thursday, May 6, 2010

Imitating Intergenerational, Indigenous Eaters

Another fine passage from The Jungle Effect by Daphne Miller, M.D., this time on how our modern culture has disrupted the age-old, powerful process of youngsters learning how to eat by imitating their elders:
At the same time that the mass media are pushing us to imitate celebrities, we have lost our opportunity to imitate our elders. It is now customary for people to leave home oat a young age and live apart from their parents or grandparents, often being separated from one another by hundreds of miles. With this distance, we have lost our opportunity to learn how to grow, collect, and prepare our indigenous foods. In addition, the family meal during which a group sits down together on a daily basis is slowly becoming extinct. Most of us find ourselves eating alone and often in front of the television. [WK—Guilty as charged.) This is a practice that invariably leads to overeating, since television prevents us from noticing our body's natural cues that tell us we are full. In addition, eating in isolation offers people little chance to learn table manners, share food lore, or appreciate the recipes of the previous generation. For many, celebrations involving feasting of fasting have also lost their importance. As a result, modest everyday meals punctuated by monthly or bimonthly feasts have given way to daily feasts where every meal becomes an overindulgence in calorie rich foods. (P. 42)
Yet another reason to preserve and protect the near-extinct practice of intergenerational living arrangements.

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