Margaret Riesen is the Chef-Caterer at The Vegetarian Gourmet. Reach her at 510-865-2935 or Margaret@vegetariangourmetcatering.com
Sharing Meals Enhances Our Health
Sitting down to a wonderful meal is one of life’s great pleasures. I was raised in a rural community in Switzerland, where people grew most of their own food. My grandparents owned a small farm. They were poor, and yet they ate a diet which today we associate with privilege: organic fruits and vegetables, fresh butter and eggs, free-range chicken and wildflower honey. People worked hard, and the highlight of the day was sitting down to a shared meal.
Sharing food in community is one of our oldest rituals. In every culture, life’s milestones are marked with the sharing of food — marriages, births, rites of passage, burials. It was when early humans began gathering food in an organized manner — whether hunting in groups or cultivating crops — that marked the beginning of human societies. Instead of foraging or chasing down their next meal, humans started engaging in other activities, like painting on their cave walls.
Contrary to popular belief, our hunter-gatherer ancestors did not sit down to a meal of animal protein every day, but ate mostly what they foraged, like roots, berries and nuts. Like all living beings, we evolved along with our food supply, adapting over long periods of time to changes in diet. Fast-forward to the 21st century. Since the 1950s, the standard diet for many people has shifted from real food to processed food products, a move that has taken a huge toll on people’s health.
Now more than ever, it is vital that we take care of our health, and eating real food goes a long way to supporting that. Here in the Bay Area, we are fortunate to have access to fresh, local food year-round, with almost daily farmer’s markets to choose from, and local Alameda businesses like Dan’s Fresh Produce and Alameda Natural Grocery, among others.