Food, Inc. and Eating Alone

Have you seen the documentary “Food, Inc.?”

I had read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation and several other works about corporate ownership of our food supply, the corruption in the FDA, the horrors of the meat industry, etc., but I thought this film did a really good job summarizing a lot of that information for a wider audience.

Highly recommended.

On a second food note, I was so disappointedt by my favorite American Public Media talk show, “The Splendid Table’s” July 11 episode. Lynne Rossetto Kasper interviewed authors Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin about their new book, What People Eat When They Eat Alone (a subject that I thought was covered in a wonderfully entertaining fashion in the book of essays, Alone In the Kitchen With An Eggplant) — you can hear the audio here — and maybe I was just an extra Sensitivo today or something, but I found the tone of the whole thing incredibly hurtful. I eat alone every day of my life and I don’t think of myself as a freak or an object of pity, as the authors and Kasper seemed to imply. The segment’s tone to me was like, “Oh, it’s so FASCINATING what humans will eat when they’re in the highly unusual situation of HAVING TO EAT ALONE.” I’m driving along thinking, “Gee, I manage to eat quite normally under those BIZARRE circumstances. I wasn’t aware that I was such a sociological phenomenon!”

I mean, what? When I think of eating in America I think of people grabbing a Dunk’s coffee and bagel on the way to work, eating lunch at their desks, and then microwaving something fast for dinner. From what I observe, when families or couples do get to eat dinner together they consider themselves fortunate. I admire people who make eating with family a priority, even though some of my most unhappy childhood memories are located at the Sacred Family Dinner Table (and I hardly think I’m rare in that!).

Anyway, instead of being all depressed about it, I thought I’d make a positive recommendation: invite a single person over for dinner this week! We really do get sick of eating alone every day. We’re happy to contribute to the meal, too, which totally does not need to be fancy. Here, I’ll even recommend a simple menu (inspired by The Splendid Table!):

Pasta with a simple olive oil and garlic sauce
Steamed green veggies to go in the pasta
Grated parmesan
Wine or sparkling water and lime
Fresh berries over vanilla yogurt for dessert

Bon Appetit!

12 Replies to “Food, Inc. and Eating Alone”

  1. Interesting. For years I ate most of my meals alone, traveled alone, went to the cinema and concerts and theater alone …. Is it really so unusual? I saw a self-esteem expert on a talk show once who suggested single women go and have a meal at a restaurant by themselves – as a demonstration of their strength and confidence. I was like, “Really?” Apparently for a lot of people that’s a big no-no.

  2. I always loved to cook and when I was single I used to just make a big pot of something and eat on it all week. Now I think I’d probably freeze it into portions, then do the microwave thing. I still do that now with things like soup and spaghetti sauce.

    In div school some of my buddies had a house dinner every Sunday and invited people over. That was great because sunday night is the hardest night to be single, especially in the summer with the grills blazing.

    I was not above drawing good looking men into my apartment with a large pot of soup 😉

  3. I listened to that show as well on NPR.

    Now I am partnered, have been for several years and it is a freak of nature when we can get together for a meal. Just sayin’

  4. It’s not only single people who long for company at dinner. My DH and I are on different schedules despite his living here with me in Florida, he seems to be on California time… So we do not eat meals together expect if he takes me out (his lunch my dinner)

    I love the idea of inviting people over. If I could just get this place cleaned up. I long for people to invite me out to lunch. That would be lovely. I have been eating alone, mostly on purpose for most of my adult life. I remember how brave they thought I was in college for eating alone in the Cafeteria, but I really wasn’t — I was studying. Lunch with a book is a good lunch if you ask me.

    I heard that program and I do occasionally indulge in food I wouldn’t eat otherwise when alone… Sara Lee is one prime example. I didn’t catch the snarky assumption behind the assumption. Eating alone for me is normal. Eating with someone else is an occasion!

  5. Thinking about when I first lived alone and cooked for the week — what finally finished me was beet borscht. A week of beet borscht is a lot of beet borscht, no matter how rich the beef stock you start with. It was years before I could contemplate beets again.

    Unfortunately, my apartment then had one of those old-fashioned in-the-wall mini-fridges — the tiny freezer compartment had no separate door. They probably haven’t been manufactured for 60 years. I’m sure anything built since the 60s is more foodie-friendly.

    Farmers markets are a problem, since I am so tempted by absolutely everything, yet can’t eat it up before it goes off. I am grateful for frozen fruits and vegetables, which can be sugar- and saltfree, cooked a serving at a time. I live for smoothies — five servings of fruit a day in one blender.

    Any juice with fizzy water is just great. I find that with cran or pom juice in seltzer, I don’t yearn for a glass of wine with dinner.

  6. I love to cook and used to make fantastic meals for myself when I was single. I’d come home many a Friday night after work with a good bottle of wine and whip up something spectacular. Eating alone was a pleasure because I only had myself to please.

    Cooking for my family is very rewarding – they are very appreciative of my efforts, even my six year old – but I do occasionally miss those single eating days.

  7. I love the idea of inviting single friends to our house for dinner because I love cooking for friends… but I have a 13 month old and a 3 year old, so I can only offer food and chaos. No actual conversation and the bare minimum of companionship.

    Of course they will probably leave with a renewed appreciation of the simplicity of eating alone.

  8. What a load of cr*p! I think MFK Fisher wrote about this throughout her career. What one eats and the care with which it is prepared and eaten are just as important whether one is eating with others or by oneself.

    Eating thoughtfully can be a sacred moment – wheter eating by oneself and reflecting on the goodness and bounty of Creation or coming together with friends to share a meal (my mother always said that a peanut butter sandwich can be a fine meal if the company is good).

    I feel very strongly that the notion that dining alone is inferior has been created by needy types.

    Menschen essen, Tieren fressen.

  9. They just needed a topic of discussion. It is kind of offensive that they think everyone lives in the family homestead and comes home at 5PM to eat dinner together. There is much more diversity in the world than that.

  10. I was about to recommend Alone In The Kitchen With An Eggplant, then realized you already mentioned it. My husband and I do enjoy eating dinner together, but it actually gets boring sometimes–we invite friends over for dinner quite a bit.

    I always feel a bit touchy when people talk about eating alone; I did it just fine during the years before I got married. And it’s sometimes nice to have my cheese and crackers and diet Coke alone when my husband isn’t home for dinner.

  11. When I was struggling with an eating disorder, I binged alone, at night while my partner slept. Went on like that for years until things got way out of hand and I got help.

    These days, at least one meal a day is solitary. I rather enjoy it. I eat everything from sandwiches to fish tacos.

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