GOOD

Q&A: Laurie David on the Importance of Sharing a Meal

Laurie David's new book chronicles the lost art of the family dinner. Some advice on how the rest of us might make shared meals more of a routine.


Are shared meals with friends and family a regular part of your life? If you're anything like most of us, the answer is likely no. Laurie David, environmental activist and an ex-wife of Larry David, is hoping to change that with a new book called The Family Dinner. Part-cookbook, part-shared meal bible, it chronicles her family's relationship to the lost art of eating together and offers tips for how the rest of us might make shared meals more of a routine.

GOOD: Environmental activist or radical family dinner revolutionary. Which is more fun?


LAURIE DAVID: Every issue I care about crosses the dinner table—from how far food travels to get to your plate, to how much meat we're eating. With the decline of the family dinner in the last 30 years, with the popularity of the microwave and processed foods, and not to mention the influx of women in the workplace, we've seen an explosion of health problems and it's no coincidence—it's completely connected to the fact that we're no longer eating home-cooked, fresh food anymore.

GOOD: How did this book project come about?

LD: It's the most personal thing I’ve ever done. One night, after having gone through a divorce and seen my share of ups and downs, I was sitting at the dinner table with my two teenage daughters (now 14 and 16). Dessert had been over for half an hour and my kids were still sitting at the table, talking away. I knew in that moment that I had done something right as a parent and I wanted to share the wisdom and the recipes I've learned.

GOOD: Why is sharing a meal so important?

LD: The book is for anyone, kids or no kids. Your family is whoever you sit down to a meal with; the key is how we connect to each other. For kids in particular, regular shared meals increase self-esteem, resiliency, and academic achievement. At the dinner table, kids become civilized, learning how to be patient and make conversation. Marshall Duke, a professor at Emory University, who studies rituals, recently conveyed to me what makes dinner so powerful: The dinner table is the number one place where family stories and family history is passed on. When we stop having dinner, we stop passing on these stories.

GOOD: Are you a good cook?

LD: I definitely have to follow recipes. I’m not someone who can invent recipes and I almost always leave out an ingredient. But I love to cook and I love everything about cooking, love the smells in the house, love creating the mood, love having guests over.

GOOD: Tell us about family dinner after divorce.

LD: Here’s the thing, more than half of all marriages end in divorce. When parents split up, people stop doing rituals, everyone's hurt, everyone's a mess. It's also the time families need rituals more than ever before. Family dinners got us through that miserable time and even got my ex-husband back to the table. Now we eat together as a family every other week.

GOOD: Your rituals include: Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Shabbat Friday, and "If It's Sunday, We Must Be Eating Chinese Takeout." What's your biggest tip for starting the ritual of a shared meal besides setting a regular time and drinking tap (versus bottled) water?

LD: The most important thing about the shared meal is sitting down. Your meal can be soup and a salad, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches—not three courses and a homemade crumble from the oven. Or do ritual lunches or ritual breakfasts. The single most important thing is the yact of sitting down and talking. No screens, no phone, no TV. Your brain needs the rest. And after dinner, everyone can go back to doing their solitary thing.

Author photo credit: Maryellen Baker.

Articles
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
test
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less
Health

Villagers rejoice as they receive the first vaccines ever delivered via drone in the Congo

The area's topography makes transporting medicines a treacherous task.

Photo by Henry Sempangi Senyule

When we discuss barriers to healthcare in the developed world, affordability is commonly the biggest concern. But for some in the developing world, physical distance and topography can be the difference between life and death.

Widjifake, a hard-to-reach village in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a population of 6,500, struggles with having consistent access to healthcare supplies due to the Congo River and its winding tributaries.

It can take up to three hours for vehicles carrying supplies to reach the village.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via Keith Boykin / Twitter

Fox News and President Trump seem like they may be headed for a breakup. "Fox is a lot different than it used to be," Trump told reporters in August after one of the network's polls found him trailing for Democrats in the 2020 election.

"There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it," he continued.

Some Fox anchors have hit back at the president over his criticisms. "Well, first of all, Mr. President, we don't work for you," Neil Cavuto said on the air. "I don't work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics