Is Technology Killing Our Relationship to Real Food?

An excerpt from this week’s Foodie Underground column on EcoSalon, looking at our high speed relationship to food and why we should be concerned.

Checking your iPhone during dinner is rude (well, unless you’re food porning it up… and even then, there are limits). But what’s worse? Making your iPhone your dinner partner.

That’s right food lovers, you can now buy a bowl for ramen that magically connects your iPhone so that you can surf and text and check your updates while you’re slurping down a bowl of hot noodle broth. Great! Why enjoy your meal when you could be reading your email?

In the midst of articles about farmers markets, CSAs and urban gardens, it’s discoveries like this that give me cause for concern, particularly about our future as a society. Not because hip food cities may soon be filled with ramen/iPhone bars (isn’t there an app that turns your phone into a set of chopsticks??), but because it’s an indicator of a larger cultural dilemma.

We live in a fast-paced world, where work is longer and meals are shorter. We trade the conference room for the dinner table, and soon eating is just another task in the day; something to be checked off of a to-do list.

We’re busy and so we cut corners, but food shouldn’t be one of them. Seeking out devices to replace the fact that we aren’t sitting around a table with family or friends is not only depressing, it’s a sign of the times: we live in a world where eating is an afterthought–something that we know we must do, just like we must wash the dishes and we must go to work.

But if we take the pleasure and ceremony out of eating, what are we left with? A world where good food isn’t honored and fast food is the norm. There’s a causal relationship between our high octane modern world and our path towards a public health epidemic: we don’t take time to eat, much less honor the process, gather with friends, celebrate the food in front of us and the company around us. Put an emphasis back on living life, and maybe food politics falls in place right behind.

We complain that dinner takes time and energy to prepare; but aren’t we lucky enough to be taking a moment to work with our hands and produce something that sustains us? Somewhere our relationship to food went askew – instead of flavor and sustenance we chose efficiency and in turn have created a system where taste is in fact the last criteria that is used in most food that is grown. Genetically modified tomatoes that grow into squares so that they pack better? Why not?

Food is one of the few moments in the day where we can disconnect. Remove ourselves from our digital lives and appreciate something physical and tangible. An all-senses affair. If we want to change the world of food, maybe we need to start thinking about our own interactions with it first. Are we present? Are making something or merely hitting the “warm up” button? Do we make time for food or is it an afterthought?

Read the rest of the article here.

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