- Improved academics: sitting down and eating meals with family members was the strongest predictor of academic achievement in high school seniors  – even more than whether they lived with one or both parents.
- Regardless of gender
, family structure, or socioeconomic level, teenagers who eat dinner with their families at least 5 times per week are less likely to be involved with drugs later in life.
- Improved minds: dinner table conversations teach children more vocabulary than simply reading to them.
- Sitting down together for a meal nurtures family relationships and provides a time in the day to stop and focus on each other. The family table is also a natural space to foster good listening skills that serve kids well beyond childhood.
- Parents can be role models of healthy eating for their kids, and family meals promote a sense of belonging.
- Kids are more likely to try new healthy foods that they’ve never tried before if they’ve had a hand in preparing them.
- Helping cook a meal gives kids sense of purpose in their home space, making them less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as teenagers.
- Cooking together encourages children to take ownership over their eating, providing them with that wonderful sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes with preparing their own meal.
- Cooking together means spending quality time together doing something productive, and teaching kids a skill that will serve them throughout their lives.
- Because it’s nearly impossible to identify all the pesticides used to grow a banana from the tropics, and to know the route it took to get to your supermarket.
- The closer your food is grown to you, the less transportation and gasoline it took to get there, and the better for the earth it is.
- Because, even if it’s not organic, the apple from a grower in a nearby state is likely less aggressively applied with chemicals. It is safer and cleaner, and its path from farm to table is easier to trace.
- Supporting local growers’ and purveyors’ products means your money stays close to home, helping to build the local economy in your hometown instead supporting a big corporation in another city, state, or country.
- Because eating food that is in season is beneficial to your pocketbook as well. The cost of food transportation and storage for foods that are not in season make them more expensive than a fruit or vegetable that is seasonal and grown in your area.
- Because it tastes so much better! Local food is generally food that is in season. Have you ever tasted a bright red local strawberry in June alongside a big, white, strawberry from a supermarket? You’ll be able to taste the difference.
- Most fresh fruits and vegetables sold in supermarkets are shipped from California or Florida, but adequate nutrition can be found in growing in local soil no matter where you live. While warmer states might have citrus fruits year round, colder states have four bountiful growing seasons as well.
- See what is in season in your home state: http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/seasonalingredientmap
… Eat Whole Grains?
- Whole grains have 50% more B vitamins, 90% more vitamin E, and a whole lot more fiber than their refined counterparts.  Basically, with whole grains, you’re getting better nutrition for the same cost: more bang for your buck.
- What are they? Whole grains are the unrefined, entire seed of a plant. The seed is made of three parts – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. A whole grain contains all three, while a refined grain is stripped of the bran and the germ.
- Swapping whole wheat breads and cereals for their white counterparts is an easy way to decrease your risk of developing cardiovascular disease
, and type 2 diabetes.
- Some easy-to-find whole grains include: oats, brown rice, barley, faro, quinoa, whole-wheat flour, and wild rice.