Comfort Food For The Economy

If Obama and staff can’t quickly energize the economy, we will all need more comfort food. And, we will be eating at home more. As a society, I think we needed to slow down a bit and enjoy more “moments.” Today’s economic downturn may just have been the wakeup call we needed.

I personally have felt like I’ve been on a 20-year roller coaster blending family, career, friends, networking, volunteering, raising a child beginning at 40, becoming a widow, re-marrying, getting my daughter through college, being her career advisor, and—going to the gym!! I made money, saved money, and spent a whole lot of money. Is all this pure craziness?

I had a 17-year-old student from France, Audrey, about 16 years ago. I took her to Costco. She was overwhelmed at the low prices we have. She loved America. Two years later she came to visit again. She observed, “In France we are taken care of from cradle to grave by the government. As a result we have no money and prices are high. We don’t have much ‘stuff’.” This time she was trying to evaluate which system was best. I became more conscious of how much “stuff” we have.

Audrey got me to begin thinking also that it is a lot easier to buy things than to get rid of them. I am sure my age is the main reason. Young people can’t get enough “stuff.” My 22 year old daughter is a prime example. However, I did teach her that she could buy many things, but it is best to only buy what she LOVED. One time when she was in high school, she went into Macy’s dressing room and tried on at least 20 garments. She came out with nothing and said, “I didn’t LOVE anything.”

Why is comfort food the medicine we need in a bad economy. Well, it reminds us of what our mothers and grandmothers cooked. It is often the retro or classic recipes that nouveau cuisine ignores. It is often a blend of a lot of food categories into one dish. It often cooks for 30 min. to an hour adding yummy smells to the home. It makes us feel secure that someone cares enough for us to cook dinner. And, we then all sit down and eat together.

Aha, this is sounding good. Can we stop long enough to dine together as a family? It has been proven that there are huge benefits to children to have family dinners. The conclusions of a study done by Columbia University show that teens who eat fewer than 3 family dinners a week are:

o Two and a half times likelier to smoke cigarettes.
o More than one and a half times likelier to drink alcohol.
o Almost three times likelier to try marijuana.

Two researchers at the University of Minnesota investigated the potential benefits of family mealtimes and found children gain these benefits:

o Better nutrition
o Better language and literacy
o Fewer eating disorders
o Fewer risky behaviours.

Joseph Califano Jr., chairman and president of the national Center on Addition and Substance Abuse, says that “the family dinner is more powerful than any law we can pass, any punishment we can level” for protecting children against risky behavior. “parental engagement is a critical weapon in the fight against substance abuse,” he says. “If I could wave a want, I’d make everyone have family dinner.”

The new cookbook, The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner, Easy Family Meals for Every Day of the Week not only is chock full of comfort food recipes, but one day of the week is dedicated to comfort food, Monday. The author Liz Edmunds says that this is because Monday is the day after the weekend where children need to get back into the routine of school for the week. Comfort food helps achieve this.

My new year’s resolution is to slow down, have comfort food for family dinners, and learn to make bread and home-made pizzas like the author of the above book exclaims is not as hard as you’d think and makes mom very “special.”