So. Are you feeling a little jealous of French kids? Just a twinge of envy?
I'm feeling a bit frustrated myself. Because it seems to me that as long as we value convenience over quality, we will never eat sensibly. Ever.
If this video says anything, it says that quality food is about more than food. It's about time, intentionality, and permission to slow down. It's about the priority we give (or don't give) to preparing real food and then sitting down long enough to savor it with real people in comfort and safety. It's about relaxed enjoyment.
So, suspend your work ethic for a moment. (For 60-90 moments actually--the typical French lunch "hour".) Because as far as the body is concerned, this has nothing to do with decadence and everything to do with digestion. The body interprets relaxed dining behavior as an "all clear" signal, a sign that it is now safe to relinquish the "fight or flight" response and allow the "rest & digest" response to come online and go to work--a different kind of work, a different kind of necessary productivity, which produces a different kind of result for human flourishing: health and vitality.
How odd would you be in America, if you actually tried to sit down and be "productive" this way every day for lunch? (Instead of tossing back an energy bar and a coke, because that's all you have time for--and isn't food just fuel anyway?)
As food writer Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl observes:
A long, leisurely, vegetable-filled lunch doesn’t come out of nothing; it comes out of a day, a week, a life that supports lunch.
And I agree. If we want to have a healthier food culture, then we will probably have to be willing to really have a healthier food culture. Around here, that means we may have to be willing to swim upstream a little. We may have to be willing to be misunderstood, to risk being thought of as idle, or indulgent, or effete, or even French, while we digest our food and teach our children to do the same.
There is no way to make nourishing traditions convenient. They take love and work and commitment. As long as convenience, speed, and multitasking remain our chief cultural values, we will continue to be sicker and fatter than cultures who eat sicker and fatter than we do.
At the end of the day, the body doesn't give a rip about convenience. It never has. It has its own agenda: fight or flight; or rest and digest.
What's on your agenda today? Anyone got time for lunch?